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Money advice: National Consumer Agency’s top five tips

The NCA’s online tools were used over 400,000 times in the last year which they believe shows a strong appetite among consumers for money managing information.

Image: Household budget via Shutterstock

THE NATIONAL CONSUMER Agency has launched their top five tips to help consumers manage their money this spring.

“Spring is the ideal time of year to review your personal finances, as people plan for the year ahead,” said Karen O’Leary, Director, Public Awareness and Financial Education Division.

They advise people to make a budget so you can work out where you’re spending your money and plan for essential expenses such as a mortgage, rent and utility bills and set money aside for future expenses such as back to school costs or car insurance.

The NCA’s budget planner and financial product comparison tool was used over 400,000 times in the last year, which “indicates a strong appetite amongst consumers for information to help them manage their money,” added O’Leary.

Here is their five top tips to spring clean your finances:

  1. Start by budgeting – Check out the budget planner on to help you work out what you are spending your money on compared to your income. Get a calendar and fill in occasions, bill dates, insurance renewal dates and back-to-school related costs so you can get a clear picture of what your future expenses are for the rest of the year.
  2. Make a savings plan – Once you have worked out your budget, you can see if you can afford to put a little money aside on a weekly or monthly basis. Open a savings account, and remember that accounts with the higher interest often have limited access, so shop around for an account that is right for you. You can set up an account with a bank, building society, An Post, Credit Union or State Savings. Check with your workplace to see if there is a scheme in place which can help you save, for instance a holiday loan scheme. The savings comparison on allows you to compare saving accounts, including the interest rates on offer from the main providers in the Irish market.
  3. Face up to debt - Debt does not just affect your finances but can impact on other areas of your life such as your health, relationships and work. It is difficult to face up to debt but ignoring it will not make your debt disappear and could make your situation worse. If you are finding it hard to make repayments speak with Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), your bank or provider to see what your options are.
  4. Reduce your bank charges – Check your bank statements to see what charges, if any, you are paying on your current account. Bank charges can include transaction charges and ongoing administration fees. If you have an overdraft you could be paying further charges like interest, a renewal charge and surcharge interest if you go over your limit. The National Consumer Agency has an up-to-date comparison of current account fees, including details of how you can qualify for free banking.
  5. Check for a better deal on household bills - Recent NCA Research found that 63 per cent and 61 per cent of consumers, respectively, have not checked to see if better value was available for gas and electricity providers in the last three years. It is worth checking once a year to see if you can get a better deal on your regular bills such as gas, electricity, phone or broadband. There are a variety of different household packages that could work for you and your family, which may work out cheaper than paying for services separately.  A recent NCA life insurance cost comparison showed potential savings of up to €7,500 over the lifetime of the policy for dual term life insurance cover of €250,000 over 25 years for a 33 – year old couple, both smokers.

Do you have a household budget?

Poll Results:

No (684)
I hope to start one (638)
Yes (304)

Read: 54 per cent of people still believe now is a bad time to save >

About the author:

Amy Croffey

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