New research shows that it might not be such a happy New Year for Irish consumers when it comes to their finances in 2018. Many admit to feeling less than optimistic about the year ahead, with money concerns and financial woes weighing heavily on people’s minds:
- 95% of consumers admit to worrying about their finances with 2018 set to bring more of the same concerns
- Three-quarters of consumers (72%) feel they’ll either be in the same financial position, or worse off, in 2018 than they were in 2017
- Almost half of consumers (47%) are concerned they won’t be able to save anything in 2018 after paying for essentials and 43% worry they wouldn’t make ends meet if unexpected expenses came up
- Over half (54%) of those who worry about their finances feel it impacts on their mental health, while 45% say it negatively affects their physical health
- Switcher.ie urges consumers to take control of their finances as we come into the new year.
New research published today by independent price comparison and switching service, Switcher.ie, reveals the extent of consumers’ financial concerns for 2018. Rather than looking forward to a happy New Year, money worries look set to remain high on the agenda with little to suggest that consumers’ concerns will be alleviated anytime soon.
Already, a huge 95% of Irish adults admit to worrying about their finances. One in five (18%) say they’re always worried, while a quarter (25%) say they often are – just 5% say they never have any financial concerns.
As we head into 2018, this looks set to continue. Despite talk of a recovery and changes to income tax and USC in Budget 2018, less than three in ten (28%) feel they’ll be better off than they were in 2017. In contrast, over a quarter (26%) believe they’ll be worse off, with almost half (46%) expecting their financial position to remain unchanged.
Sadly, only 29% of consumers are confident that in 2018 they will be able to meet all of their day-to-day expenses (such as rent or mortgage, energy costs, telecoms and groceries), as well as setting savings aside and being able to cover unexpected expenses. Others (27%) expect to be able to meet their day-to-day expenses but won’t be able to save, while a third (33%) say they’ll manage to meet their day-to-day expenses, but will struggle to do so.
Worryingly, one in ten (9%) say they’ll have to borrow money if unexpected expenses crop up in 2018. However, the fear is that the number resorting to credit could end up being even higher, with almost half (47%) admitting that saving anything at all after paying for essentials could be a problem, and a similar number (43%) worried they wouldn’t make ends meet if they were hit with an unexpected expense.
The concerns that consumers have about their financial situation in 2018 are varied – one-fifth (21%) are worried they won’t be able to afford essential bills like energy, broadband or groceries, and the same amount (20%) are concerned they could struggle to pay their rent or mortgage. Other fears include not being able to afford to go on holiday (23%), not getting a pay rise (20%), or losing their job (14%).
And many people feel that these financial worries could have an impact on their health, relationships and career. Over half (54%) say these fears impact on their mental health, with 45% concerned about the effect on their physical health. Over four in ten (43%) say their financial worries impact negatively on their relationships with their partner or family, while 38% say thinking about these things distracts them from their job or study. The same number (38%) say worrying keeps them awake at night.
Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of Switcher.ie, said: “The scale and extent of Irish consumers’ financial woes as we come into 2018 is huge. We’re hearing a lot of talk about the recovery, but the reality seems to be that this hasn’t hit consumers’ pockets just yet.
“It’s likely many of us could be emerging from the Christmas season with a financial hangover that feels hard to shake. Getting a handle on your finances may seem like a really big job, but in fact, making several small changes could start to ease the pressure and make you feel more in control.
“Get started by drawing up a monthly budget, taking some energy-saving measures around the home, and ensuring you’re not paying more than you need to for household essentials like broadband, energy and your mobile phone. This can make a huge difference. Not only will addressing these issues save you money, reducing your stress about these things could also have a positive impact on your health, happiness and relationships in the year ahead.”
Switcher.ie’s top tips for tackling your finances in 2018
- Draw up a monthly budget, including all your income and expenses, and try your best to stick to it. If you can manage to put some money into savings each month, even better.
- If you have long-standing credit card debt that you’re finding hard to shift, think about switching to a card with a 0% balance transfer offer, making sure to pay the balance off within the interest-free period.
- Ensure you’re not paying more than you need to for your household essentials. If you haven’t switched your energy, broadband or phone plan in some time, make it one of your new year’s resolutions to take half an hour to do this. It’s quick and easy and could save you some much-needed cash – switching energy alone could save you up to €335, while savings of up to €432 are available on some broadband packages.
- Take time to review all of your monthly payments – be it for the gym, a cinema membership, or a streaming service – and cancel any you no longer use.
- Make the most of any tax reliefs or benefits you’re entitled to – for example, you can claim tax relief on some medical expenses that are not covered by the State or by private health insurance. There’s loads of information on benefits and taxes on the Revenue website, so take some time to check these out at the start of the year.
- Take some energy-saving measures around the home. Simple changes, like turning down the heating by just one degree can knock up to 10% off heating bills, while turning appliances off, rather than leaving them on standby, will reduce the appliance’s energy use by around 20%.
- See if you can get a discount by switching from monthly to annual payments. The chances are you’re paying extra for the convenience of paying things like gym membership or insurance on a monthly basis, so although paying upfront will be a larger outlay of cash in one go, it will save you in the long run.
- See if you are eligible for fee-free banking – although many banks have re-introduced fees on current accounts in recent years, many still have accounts that offer fee-free banking once you meet certain criteria, like making a specified number of payments using the account each month. Check this out – it could save you a few Euro a month.
For more information, visit Switcher.ie
For further information please contact:
Maeve McLaughlin, Switcher.ie on 01 517 5922/087 133 2526 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Images for use are available on Flickr here.
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: “In general, how often do you worry about your finances? Always (almost daily), Often (almost weekly), Sometimes (almost monthly), Rarely (once or twice a year), Never”
 In response to the question: “Compared to 2017, which of the following statements best represents how you feel about your finances in 2018? I will be better off in 2018 than I was in 2017/ I will be worse off in 2018 than I was in 2017/ I will be the same in 2018 as I was in 2017”
 In response to the question: “Thinking ahead to your finances in 2018 in general and your day-to-day expenses, in particular, (e.g. rent/mortgage, electricity, gas, oil, TV, broadband, bin charges, mobile phone bills, groceries, etc.), which of the following statements applies to you the most? I’m confident I will be able to meet all of my day-to- day expenses, save some money and cover unexpected expenses/ I will not be able to save but will meet my day-to- day expenses/ I’ll manage to meet my day-to- day expenses with my income but it’ll be a struggle/ It’s likely I’ll have to borrow money or use credit if unexpected expenses come up/ It’s likely I’ll have to borrow money or use credit to meet some day-to-day expenses.”
 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/ Neutral/ 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 distracts me from my job/study/ Worrying about my finances keeps me awake at night.”
 In response to the question: “Which of the following, do you think, you’d worry about in 2018? Please select all that apply. Not being able to afford to go on holiday/ Not being able to afford essential bills like gas, electricity, broadband, or groceries/ Having to struggle to pay my rent or mortgage/ Not being able to save any money after I pay for the essentials/ Not being able to make ends meet if unexpected expenses arise/ Losing my job/ Not getting a pay rise/ I don’t have any financial worries for the coming year.”
 Source – Switcher.ie: How does Switcher calculate its savings messages?
 Source – Switcher.ie: Broadband comparison tool
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. Switcher.ie is 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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