If you are living on a low income, you may have sources of income that you never considered. You may be able to increase your income through social welfare, asking for help from family members or getting some tax relief among other options.
See also help managing your money during COVID-19.
Check your social welfare entitlements
You may be entitled to a social welfare payment and not be aware of it. Social welfare payments are available for:
- Working people such as the Working Family Payment
- Unemployed people
- Families and children
- Widows, widowers and surviving civil partners
- Guardians or orphans
- Older and retired people
- People with a disability and carers
- People returning to education
If you get a social welfare payment, you might also qualify for extra social welfare benefits. It’s easier than you might think to check out what benefits you are entitled to if you’re on a low income.
In some cases, you may be able to claim an Exceptional Needs Payment. This is a single payment to help meet essential, once-off, exceptional costs, which a person could not reasonably meet out of their weekly income such as a funeral or a flood.
If you are new to social welfare read about the social welfare system in Ireland.
Change some things in your work
If you have a job, there are some things you can do to increase your income.
- Increase your hours
- Ask for a raise
- Check you’re receiving at least the legal minimum rates of pay
- Look for a better-paid job
Look at other ways to make money
Below are some tips you could think about to try to make some extra money:
Sell your unwanted stuff online on eBay or other online marketplaces like DoneDeal or adverts.ie.
Turn your hobby into extra money, for example knitting, jewellery making, tutoring students, writing web articles, fixing computers, taking wedding photographs.
Do market research online or in person, but be careful of scams online.
Make extra cash by charging for cleaning or ironing services.
Ask other household members to contribute
Many households struggle because every adult living in their home does not contribute fairly to the costs of running it. The same can be true for couples.
If this is you, and you are struggling to manage your money, now is the time to have that difficult conversation. Your family members may have no idea of the financial strain you are under. It can also be an opportunity for learning about money management that would benefit family members throughout their lives.
Check if you are entitled to maintenance income
If you are not receiving maintenance from a former partner, but you think you are entitled to it, find out your rights by contacting:
The Legal Aid Board also has a family mediation service and can be contacted on 1890 615 200 for details of local services. Free Legal Advice Centres have a booklet on maintenance or phone 1890 350 250 for details of local services.
Check if you can get tax relief
You may not be claiming all your tax entitlements. For example, if your partner is working, it might be worth checking if you should be tax sharing. Tax sharing is when you share your tax credits with your partner or spouse. Your partner may have a higher income than you and by sharing your tax credits with them, you can pay less tax together.
If you’ve had a change of personal circumstances, such as losing your job, you may be entitled to claim a refund of tax and USC.
Make sure you are receiving all your tax relief. You can claim:
- Third-level education fees
- For medical or dental costs
Further information is available about tax from Citizens Information.
Make money from your property
If you are renting out a room in your home or considering it, you could be exempt from tax on this income under the Rent-a-Room scheme. But if you receive a social welfare payment, check first if it will be affected.
Do you have a second property you could generate an income from? If you receive income from renting out a second property, and you want to include it in your My Budget plan, make sure to count only the income after tax.
You may have allowable expenses you can offset (reduce the tax you pay). Call Revenue on 1890 20 30 70 for more information.
As a landlord, you have both rights and responsibilities.
Apply for charitable help
If you have no other sources of income and no room for cutbacks, consider applying to a charity for help.
There are many charities in Ireland. Some will help people based on the type of employment a person has or used to have. Others will help based on your need, for example, the Society of St Vincent de Paul. They may help you if, for example, you are in serious need due to a health issue, have to buy essential household items or need to cover the cost of education.
There is no one list of charities that provide financial support, but there is a register of charities you can search.
Sometimes people can feel embarrassed to ask charities for help. In our experience, charities giving financial or other support want to help. They understand that money difficulties can affect anyone, and are very understanding of how hard it can be to ask for help.
Emergency borrowing to make ends meet
Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to get a low cost loan to help you make ends meet at a difficult time.
It Makes Sense Loan
Many credit unions are now offering the It Makes Sense Loan. This is a low-cost loan of between €100 and €2,000. You can apply if you get a social welfare payment and can’t get a loan from a bank or other lender.
You must join the credit union and, in some cases, make the repayment through An Post Household Budget Scheme. Call to your local credit union to get more details or check their website www.itmakessenseloan.ie
Be very careful with other kinds of borrowing. Things like moneylending loans can seem like an easy solution, but can make a bad situation worse. They’re often a very expensive way of borrowing, so try to find other ways if you can. Get more advice before you borrow.
If you are struggling to pay debts, you can read about tackling debt.
Get more help from MABS
Learning to manage your money can seem difficult when you don’t have a lot to start with, but help is always available. If you’re struggling to make ends meet, or you feel like borrowing more is the only solution, contact MABS.