John Lowe of Money Doctors gives invaluable advice on how to tackle that credit card aftermath debt. 

A whopping €965.80 is the average amount spent at Christmas in 2019 by every adult living in Ireland. That figure was compiled by Deloittes recently in their 22nd annual Christmas survey. We are also still tops in Europe for spending with nearly € 500 spent on presents, over € 288.30 spent on food & the balance of € 177.90 spent on socialising.

So now that your credit card is feeling particularly vulnerable – 50% of cardholders only pay the minimum balance and for those who do just pay the minimum balance,  it will take up to 20 years to clear the entire debt – is there anything that can be done to gain financial independence in 2020 ?

Here are a few practical and easy-to-implement tips :

  1. Switch your credit card balance to a more competitive rate: The AIB online Click card is the most competitive right now at 9.11% APR. While this rate is not one of those pesky introductory offers, there are nevertheless 73 terms and conditions attached to the card. Including the enormous 24% interest rate when you take out cash on the card ! Caveat Emptor.ou could transfer your credit card balance to one of 4 credit card providers offering 0% IF you had a good credit history…

Permanent TSB & KBC Bank for 6 months

Bank of Ireland for 7 months

An Post Money for a whopping 12 months

…after the time has elapsed, the interest rate reverts to the higher rates applicable.

  1. Bring your lunch to work: It costs €2.00 to make a sandwich in the morning whereas it costs on average €6.00 to buy it in the local deli – add in a packet of crisps for good measure. Over the course of 2020, you will save yourself over €900!
  2. Buy generic food brands: There are big savings on tea, coffee & cereal in particular. When shopping, always compare unit price as opposed to pack price. If you can save 10 cent on a diaper and you change it 6 – 8 times per day, that’s a savings of almost €300 in 2020.
  3. Shop Online: 50% of shoppers shop 3 – 4 times per week that is according to research conducted by the Marketing Science Institute. Shoppers making a ‘quick trip’ to the supermarket end up buying over 50% more than they had anticipated. If this translates to €10 each time, that’s an extra €2080 per year. Shop once per week and it’s €520 versus €2080 per year. That is a realistic savings of €1,560 per year.
  4. Rethink your broadband/tv/phone providers: There are many good deals out there and the telecoms industry is so competitive that there’s always a good deal to pick up. The status quo is not your friend here. Consider downgrading your tv package also if you are not making the most of it. Sky’s basic package will cost you €246 per year as opposed to their advanced package of €852 per year, saving you €606 in 2020. Check out ComReg’s site
  5. Buy a more economical car: Save yourself over € 1,250 by driving a more economical car. If you drive 18,000 miles / 28,800 kilometres per year and your car averages 25 miles or 40 kilometres per gallon / 8.8 kilometres per litre it will cost € 5,563.64 (assuming € 1.70 per litre). A car that averages 35 miles per gallon or 12.30 kilometres per litre will cost just € 3,980.48 – a saving of € 1,583.16 per annum. The savings pays for your road tax and insurance in 2020! Go hybrid and save the planet and your pocket !
  6. Check your latest phone bill: Call costs can be extraordinary if left unchecked. For those of you with a half decent PC or laptop, set up a Skype account. Calling from computer to computer is free regardless of the recipient’s location and calls to mobiles & landlines are only a fraction of the price compared to most landline operators. Check out and again ComReg’s site
  7. Pay off high interest credit cards & loans before your mortgage: the sniper approach will tackle the most expensive loans first with your surplus monies. If you are under pressure to maintain all your monthly debts, request a switch on your mortgage to interest only. This will reduce your repayments every month by up to 30%. This is recommended providing you have the discipline to accelerate your debt repayments at a later stage.
  8. Set up a loose change jar: Anytime you come home empty your pockets of your loose change. You will be very surprised how quickly a few quid accumulates.
  9. Contact Money Doctor for a review of your finances. Learn how to budget and plan. Find out where the best deals for savings, insurance, loans, investments and pensions and all at the same fee as a visit to your local GP.

Congratulations. If you follow the above steps, you will save yourself at least € 5,000 in 2020 !

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