OVER SIX IN TEN IRISH CONSUMERS UNABLE TO COVER THE COST OF ESSENTIAL BILLS WITH THEIR REGULAR INCOME
New research from Switcher.ie has revealed that 65% of Irish consumers cannot afford to cover essential household bills with their regular income – with almost four in ten (38%) dipping into their savings to cover the costs last year
People also turned to plastic with over a quarter (26%) using their credit cards to pay for their everyday bills
Motor insurance (44%) is still the number one cause of financial pressure – rent and mortgage payments, broadband/internet, paid TV services and electricity are also among the household utilities that put consumers under strain
Over a third (37%) of people say they are in some form of debt with 14% admitting they are worried about their debts
Switcher.ie urges consumers to take back control of their finances in an effort to limit their reliance on credit.
New research published today by independent price comparison and switching site Switcher.ie has revealed the worrying extent to which our nation relies on credit and savings to cover the cost of essential household bills.
The research shows that dipping into savings is the most common method people use when trying to cover essential bills, with 38% admitting to doing so last year. Consumers have also admitted to using short-term fixes such as credits cards (26%) and borrowing money from family/friends or the bank (21%) to cover the cost of household bills. Others say they have used money given to them by family and friends (11%) while some (4%) have resorted to pawning or selling their belongings to make ends meet.
This reliance on accessing savings, using credit and borrowing money to cover essential utilities reflects the pressure put on Irish households when it comes to keeping up with the expensive cost of living. It therefore comes as no surprise that almost four in ten (37%) consumers say they are in some kind of debt. Of those who have some form of debt, over one in ten (14%) admit that they worry about it.
The research also shines a light on the household bills that cause financial pressure for households – with motor insurance coming out on top (44%) followed closely by rent and mortgage repayments (43%). Other household essentials, such as property tax (33%), electricity (29%), broadband/internet (26%) and paid TV services (26%) are also identified as expenses that put a strain on family finances.
These pressures not only take a toll on consumers financial footing, but it can also have a knock-on effect when it comes to their mental and physical well-being. Research from Switcher.ie in December last year revealed that 54% of people believe their financial worries have an impact on their mental health and 44% on their physical health.
And, with the latest AA cost of running a home analysis showing a year-on-year increase in the costs of upkeeping a household in Ireland, it looks as though these financial pressures and concerns will not be letting up anytime soon for already cash-strapped consumers.
Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of Switcher.ie, said: “With costly everyday expenses always knocking at the door, for many consumers it can be a constant battle to comfortably cover these household necessities with their regular income. Sadly this research reveals that our efforts to scrape together cash are solving the immediate issue, but are also leaving no space for future savings. Moreover, relying on credit and borrowing money is only a quick fix to a problem that can easily snowball out of control. It should only be used as a last resort, otherwise you run the risk of piling up your debts rather than paying them off.
“However, there are ways to stay on top of our household finances by keeping a closer eye on our spending. Setting a weekly or monthly budget is a good place to start so that you can track your incomings and outgoings. This will help you work out how much you need to cover essentials each month and how much you’ll have left over after paying off these bills.
“If you’re still struggling after making a budget then there are ways you can save and put a bit of extra money back in your pocket to help ease the strain. Reviewing your monthly payments to make sure you’re not forking out for services you don’t use can also really help save you money. For example, if you predominantly use streaming services to watch television you should consider opting out of your paid TV package if you rarely use it. While switching your household energy, broadband and mobile plans can also significantly reduce your monthly bills – especially if you haven’t switched in a while. Right now by switching your gas and electricity alone you could save up to €396 which you could put towards paying off some of your existing debts or put away into savings.”
For more information, visit Switcher.ie
For further information please contact:
Jacinta Bonus, Switcher.ie on 01 517 5921 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Notes to editors
Research was carried out for Switcher.ie by iReach Insights, involving 1,001 online interviews with Irish adults aged 18+years. The total sample is representative of the national population in Ireland.
 In response to the question: “Apart from your regular income (salary, pension or benefits) which of the following have you used to meet the cost of essential bills last year? Please select all that apply. Dipped into savings, Overdraft, Credit card, Bank loan, Money loaned from family and friends, Money given by family and friends, Doorstep lenders/ payday loan, Pawned or sold my belongings, None, I covered the cost of all essential bills with my regular income, Other (please specify).”
 In response to the question: “Thinking of your household bills in general, please state if each of the following bills puts you under any financial pressure when it comes to paying. Electricity, Gas, Home insurance, Motor insurance, Health insurance, Bank account fees, Fixed line phone, Mobile phone, Broadband/ internet, TV licence , Paid television service, Streaming service, Motor tax, Property tax, Bins/ recycling, Rent/ mortgage payments, Repaying other loans or hire purchase, School or college fees/expenses, Clothes, Food/groceries.”
 “Thinking about your day to day living costs such as essential bills, which of the following best describes your situation? I am in debt and I’m worried about it, I am in debt but not too concerned about it, I am not in debt, Prefer not to say.”
 In response to the question: “Thinking about your financial worries and the impact they have on you, please state how much you agree or disagree with each of the following statements – i.e. Strongly Agree/ Agree/ Neither/ Disagree/ Strongly Disagree: Worrying about my finances impacts on my mental health / Worrying about my finances impacts on my physical health / Worrying about my finances negatively impacts my relationship with my partner/family / Worrying about my finances impacts on my relationships with friends as I can’t afford to socialise with them / Worrying about my finances distracts me from my job/study / Worrying about my finances keeps me awake at night”
Switcher.ie launched in January 2013, with the aim of offering consumers free, independent and impartial price comparison and switching services for gas, electricity, home broadband and digital television. Switcher.ie aims to make it easier for Irish households to compare prices, save money on their regular bills, get the best deals on offer and make their hard-earned money go that bit further. For five consecutive years Switcher.ie has been accredited by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities as an impartial, accurate and independent supplier of domestic energy price comparisons and is a member of Guaranteed Irish.
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Switcher.ie is owned by Switcher Limited, a privately funded internet-based business focused on consumer engagement and innovation.