The last two years have made us switching experts. Change of plans, change of dates, change of gatherings. We have become nothing if not adaptive.
ot all voluntary, of course, but there’s nothing like a pandemic to make us reevaluate the way we live our lives, and that includes our financial lives.
Many people have used the various lockdowns and restrictions imposed to take a long and hard look at how we do things, like spending our money and making choices about what we want and need in our lives.
The good news is that many of us have found ways to do things differently that have saved money. This is the purpose of this supplement: save time and money with relatively little effort.
For many of us, it was the loss of a job or the start of working from home that finally made us realize how much things like heat, light and broadband really cost.
Being stuck in your four walls every day is expensive. Add the kids on the classroom zooms, the parents trying to attend meetings on Teams, and the teenager watching Netflix, and suddenly broadband speeds seemed as important to our lives as electricity and water.
2020 and 2021 were the years we determined the real impact of running a household on our disposable income. With 2022 already promising more uncertainty, what better way to assess family finances than making the decision not to get ripped off again?
Mindlessly renewing insurance policies, bearing your bank’s fees and commissions, and waiting for world oil prices to drop is child’s play. With the cost of living rising dramatically, it’s never been more important to be vigilant about your household bills.
“There is no doubt that the main driver of the cost of living over the past year has been the huge increase in the price of energy,” says Daragh Cassidy of comparison site bonkers.ie.
“In 2022, households will pay on average around €700 to €800 more for their gas and electricity. However, some providers have announced price increases that will add well over $1,000 to their customers’ annual bill.
“So the €100 electricity credit from the government is not going to do much in people’s pockets. But someone switching energy providers could save around €600 per year on average. Switching is so quick and easy to do, and discounts of up to 40pc are often available. This is a year where you don’t want to pay too much for your energy. »
Mr Cassidy added: “When it comes to mobile phone bills, someone who is out of contract and switches from a paid mobile plan to a SIM-only plan could save around €40 or €50 a month. .
“If you renew health insurance, it is of course not only a question of price. But even here, big savings are possible. Families with older, outdated plans often find they can save around $300 to $400 on their premium when looking at their coverage in detail. These are not negligible sums. »
But it’s not just a question of money.
“You can upgrade to faster broadband or better TV channels. Or you can switch car insurers or health insurers to get a better level of coverage or more benefits for the same price.
Mr. Cassidy says his mantra is: if you’ve been working with the same supplier for three years or more, you can rest assured that you’re either (a) paying too much or (b) getting an outdated, poor product/service. value.
As for big-ticket items like mortgages, AskPaul’s Paul Merriman says the lure of long-term fixed rates is encouraging money changers worried about rising interest rates this year.
“The main advantage of variable rates has always been the ability to overpay on demand without penalty,” Merriman said. “However, lenders are becoming increasingly flexible with their fixed rates, with some allowing customers to settle up to 20% of the outstanding principal balance each year without penalty.
“With this flexibility, combined with the security of a low long-term fixed rate, I anticipate that fixed rates will continue to dominate the majority of mortgage holders’ choices in 2022.”
So what’s stopping you from changing every aspect of your finances: from who you pay for your electricity to how you pay your mortgage?
The answer is nothing at all. More and more of us are discovering once we do it in one area of household finances, we can become almost evangelical about it. It’s a habit.
Yes, it’s a little complicated, but it’s a new year, a new you and like learning something new, the first step is the hardest.
After that, well, you will become a money-saving fanatic!
Don’t take our word for it – there’s science behind it too.
Professor Pete Lunn is Head of Behavioral Economics at ESRI. They have conducted research on switching and Professor Lunn says people tend to find the results surprising.
“It seems like the hassle factor might not be the main thing that keeps people from changing,” he says. “Of course it’s important, but even when the hassle factors are greatly reduced, the change impacts tend not to be large.
“For example, when it became possible to keep your mobile phone number when switching providers, it made some difference in switching rates, but surprisingly little given the reduced level of hassle involved.”
When it comes to big things, like a mortgage, it’s not the job that’s stopping people from doing it.
“People with mortgages could probably save more by changing their mortgage than by changing anything else. Few do. In some research we did for the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, we asked people to list all the things they would have to do to get there – to write down as much hassle as they might think. People who listed more hassles were the people most likely to change.
“This last example indicates what we now believe to be the most important factor. It’s not complicated, it’s knowing what you’re doing. Those in the mortgage experiment who listed the most factors were those who understood the process. They knew what a hassle it was.
“People who don’t change worry about what they don’t know. Is there a catch? Will there be a problem I haven’t thought of? Am I able to definitely choose a cheaper product? What are the chances of me making a mistake? We think this is the most important factor.
Do not worry anymore. All the answers, steps and processes are here.
We did it, so you can too.
There are no catches inside these pages – just savings.