Q. We hit the same bump in the road every year – clueless as to where to start in sorting our finances. Apart from the mortgage – € 240K at € 1334 a month over 25 years, we have 4 separate loans totalling € 15,000 at € 520 per month and owe money to some family members. We have 3 children under the age of 11 and while we have a net € 4,200 coming into the household every month, it is a continual struggle. Any ideas ? Thanks Paul – Rathmines Dublin 6

A. Thanks Paul and I agree – it was a tight Christmas for you ! Just on your overall debts, you have over 44% of your net monthly income going on those financial commitments – the ideal is to have less than 35%. That’s not including any of the family loans or credit card debt you may have. But you do have some leeway. For starters I was able to work out the interest rate on your mortgage is 4.5% – assuming your home is worth c. € 500,000 you could attract a better fixed rate. You could also consolidate your personal loans to a 5 year home improvement loan with your local credit union. My local one has an interest rate of 7.95% – it would mean an immediate saving of € 217 per month on the current € 520 per month you are paying. Save half of these two savings into a regular saver account ( best Bank of Ireland at 2% ) and you will have a Rainy Day Fund of nearly € 2,800 by the end of the year ! I would also recommend you do a budget plan – write to me for the free budget planner spread sheet ( has all the categories, tots itself up and simple to use ) to let you know how much it costs to run your life on a monthly basis. You won’t know yourselves by the end of January ! Happy new year.


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