For most people, summer is a fun time but only when you are on top of your finances and are organised. How do you fund your summer holiday ? Is some or all of it on your credit card with the self-promise that you are going to systematically reduce it over the coming months before Christmas and your next big spend ? At least that’s the plan you hope but to quote Mike Tyson “I had a plan until I got punched in the mouth!”
So now that your credit card is feeling particularly vulnerable – 50% of us only pay the minimum balance every month and of course, paying only the minimum means it will take you at last 20 years to clear the full debt – is there anything you can do to gain your financial independence in the aftermath of the summer of 2019 ? While I don’t want to be a killjoy before you have even planned your summer break, but before you get your punch in the mouth, here are 10 practical and easy to implement tips on clearing your credit card after your holidays – all you need to do is plan :
- Switch your credit card balance to a more competitive rate: The AIB Click card is the most competitive right now at 9.13% 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 whopping 23.4% rate when you take out cash on the card ! Caveat Emptor. There are 4 credit card providers who offer 0% for up to 12 months on balance transfers. Remember your credit history is checked and you do have to have some form of regular income. Those providers are
- An Post Money ( 12 months )
- Bank of Ireland ( 7 months )
- KBC Bank ( 6 months )
- Permanent TSB ( 6 months )
- 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 2019, you will save yourself over €900!
- 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 2019. Of course you’ll need a baby !
- Shop Online: 50% of shoppers shop 3 – 4 times per week that is according to research conducted by the Marketing Science Institute and that figure is growing. 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.
- 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. Go for Sky’s basic package as opposed to their advanced package and you could be saving you over €600 per annum. Check out ComReg’s site www.callcosts.ie
- 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 € 4,418.18 (assuming € 1.35 per litre). A car that averages 35 miles per gallon or 12.30 kilometres per litre will cost just € 3,160.97. The savings would pay for your road tax and insurance in 2017! Go hybrid or even fully electric !
- 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. Again check out www.skype.com and again ComReg’s site www.callcosts.ie
- 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, consider switching your mortgage to consolidate some of those debts if allowed. New lenders like Finance Ireland are offering this feature. This could 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. Remember the TOTAL of your monthly financial commitments should not exceed 35% of your net monthly income.
- 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.
- Contact Money Doctor or your preferred financial adviser for an indepth review of your finances. Learn how to budget and plan. Find out where the best deals for savings, insurance, loans, investments and pensions in a tell not sell initiative. Be prepared to pay for this advice as you would a doctor, accountant or solicitor otherwise that adviser may have a vested interest.
Follow any of those tips and you’ll have a smashing summer !