Broke Until Payday… Again? Here’s How To Get Your Financial Sh*t Sorted

Money, huh? There's never enough of it for the little things, let alone the biggies. Jennifer Conway's showing you how to go from woe to pro in the cash stakes - and still have a life.

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Does your bank account see-saw from ‘I’m living off two-minute noodles’ to ‘HELL-o, ASOS wish-list’ come pay day? You’re not alone, but if you’ve got total FOMO after ditching Friday night drinks to save for two weeks in the sun, remind yourself it’s okay to chill at home, judgement-free. Why? Because heaps of us are saving for something and being careful with our cash.

So, if you’re serious about that trip to the Bahamas, that new set of wheels, heading back to college or owning your own gaff, stop day-dreaming about winning the Lotto (guilty) and put our savvy money tips into action and get moving in the right direction.

How do I… save for a car?

The first step? “Think about how much you can afford to spend,” says Petrina Grehan, an advisor with Consumer Help. “Factor in the running costs, including insurance, tax, NCT, fuel, repairs and servicing.” Steven Barrett from Bluewater Financial says get a separate savings account for your car cash to go into. “Automate your savings from your current account every month,” he advises. Take a bit out of each paycheque; think, €20, €40, or more. It’ll soon add up.

Another option is the Credit Union, or you can get finance direct from car dealerships; most offer tailored repayments, starting with a deposit as low as seven percent of the on the road price. Toyota.ie offers new customers flexi-loans, likewise, opel.ie offers APRs as low as 4.9 percent with a term of 24 to 61 months. Bonkers.ie compares car loans for amounts from €5,000 to €25,000 over six months to 10 years, showing your monthly repayments.

How do I… save for a holiday?

“If it’s a holiday in 12 months, save one twelfth of the money each month,” Steven advises. He also says it’s best to shop around for the best saver account. “Banks offer the best rates on regular saver accounts than on any other savings account,” he reveals. But what if your trip of a lifetime is only a few months away? You might have to curtail your nights out, but trust us, three months of entertainment overseas will make up for a few months of zero fun at Coppers. Promise!

Consider keeping a money jar; even a small contribution like €2 a day can make all the difference over a few weeks. Once you have the funds, it pays to shop around when booking, according to Petrina, who also says you may find it cheaper to book the different parts of your trip separately. “If you’ve private health insurance you might be able to get discounted travel insurance too,” she points out. Plus, to cut costs, book tours through last-minute deals.

How do I… save for a house?

Before you start planning Ikea trips and house warming parties, there’s plenty of prep needed. You’ll need the bank’s help, because in the real world, your credit rating matters, so that lenders are happy you can make the repayments on any loans you receive. “A poor ICB (Irish Credit Bureau) record is a big no-no,” says Steven. It may be the decider on whether you get a mortgage or not. You can check your ICB status and apply for a copy of your credit report at icb.ie.

“When working out how much you need to save, remember you’ll also need to budget for legal, valuation, insurance and furnishing expenses,” Petrina warns. “Consider using a regular savings account to start building your deposit, then transferring it to a lump sum deposit account, to get a better return,” she advises.

To reach your savings goal, Petrina recommends choosing an account that requires lots of notice to take out money, and treat your savings like an on-going expense, so you save the same amount each month. Got it.

It’s important to know how much of a deposit you’ll need. “First time buyers can borrow up to 90 percent of the first €220,000 of the purchase cost of the property. If the house is worth more than €220,000, you must have a 20 percent deposit for anything over that amount. For a house worth €300,000 you need a €38,000 deposit. This is known as loan to value (LTV). You’ll have to come up with the rest yourself,” Steven points out.

How do I… save for college?

Taking a leap back into college life? The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) allows those who qualify to return to full-time education in approved courses while continuing to get income support – ask at your local social welfare office to see if you’re eligible. “Plan your budget, include allowance, student loans, expenses and grants,” Petrina instructs.

“Open a student account; most banks offer fee-free banking to students, but do shop around,” she advises. Consumerhelp.ie compares the student loans on offer for the best rates, and it’s important to check out studentfinance.ie to confirm if you’re eligible for financial support from the State. Each college provides a range of student grants and scholarships; full details on the student grant scheme are available at susi.ie.

Anything else? “Before you sign up to your gas, electricity or wifi provider always check to see if you can get a student rate,” Petrina says, and she also advises that you pick up course books second hand, or check if your college library has them on loan throughout the year.

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