Lean in 2017: Where to Find Your Biggest Savings

Here are some everyday expenses you can put some manners on in 2017...

As the new year begins, we’re all starting to set our goals and saving money is usually top of the list. When committing to a savings goal, getting organised is half the battle. Your best first step is to try out a budget calculator to help you get to grips with your monthly income and expenses and see where your biggest savings can be made.

That being said, you won’t be able to predict every expense that’s going to pop up in the New Year but getting to grips with your day-to-day costs is going to be critical to reaching your long-term savings target.

Here are four everyday expenses you can put some manners on in 2017:

Household Costs

When it comes to keeping costs down always do your best to apply the following three principles: Efficiency, economy and discipline.

Efficiency

If buying new appliances for your home, keep energy efficiency at the forefront of your mind. A bargain in-store could end up costing you more in the long run. For example, a 48” LCD TV watched for five hours per day can consume about 98W of power while an LED TV of the same size may only consume 55W. Look out for the energy rating stickers and labels on new appliances.

Some electricity providers offer ‘off-peak’ electricity between 11pm and 8am in the winter time and between 12am and 9am in the summer time. This means you could run the dishwasher, washing machine or dryer during these hours for a reduced cost. 

Economy

Never stop looking for opportunities to economise.

Do you have a full television subscription with sports and movie channels, but find that your family is only watching online content? Downgrading to a more basic TV package is a great way to regain some control on costs.

Doing a full weekly shop and budgeting for a set number of meals during the week will always be cheaper than shopping as you go. You can cook ahead and freeze too, for the nights you don’t have time to cook.

Sign up for loyalty cards with your local supermarket and be sure to make use of any vouchers or shopping points accumulated at the end of each month.

Discipline   

When it comes to saving some money, it’s often the case that we already know some of the changes we should be making but find it difficult to stick to good habits. Be strict on yourself for the first month and then saving and lean living will come more naturally in the following months.

Cost of Education

Although education in Ireland is ‘free’, in truth, it costs approximately €40,000 to get a child from their first day of primary school to their last day of university once transport, clothing, books, administration fees and extracurricular activity fees are all added up.

Plan early

Many parents only truly understand the extent of school costs once it's too late and end up having to fund everything out of day-to-day expenditure. This is why it’s a good idea to setup a savings account to help offset some of those costs ahead of time.

Shop savvy

When doing the weekly shop, look out for multipacks on juices, fruit pops or any other lunchbox items that offers savings and consider using non-brand or everyday range groceries were possible.

Do your best to make packed lunches most days of the week, leaving lunch money for ‘treat days’. And label those clothes and books! Disputes over ownership could lead to you buying a whole new uniform or booklist.

Transport

If you live near the school, walk with your children in the morning and in the evenings, weather permitting. Also, make sure your children avail of the school child Leap Card for cheaper fares.

Running a cost-saving car

Cutting the cost of running a family car can be difficult because expenses such as fuel are essential to its operation. You can, however, learn to spot potential efficiencies and operate a ‘lean motor’ in 2017.

Shop around to find the best deal on petrol prices and use handy apps such as Pumps.ie, which will find you the cheapest fuel stations across the country based on their location.

For fuel efficiency purposes, don’t leave heavy items in the boot that you are not using and remember to keep your tires properly inflated as your car will burn more petrol than usual trying to compensate for any imbalance.

Services such as Parkopedia.ie and Q-park are other options that can help customers locate parking spaces and save money at the same time using just their smartphone.

Save money moving house

When you move into a new home, you’re likely to face multiple big spends in a short space of time, so it’s more important than ever to make savings wherever you can. Make sure to take an electricity reading from your old abode before you leave. Contact your electricity provider immediately and close the account.

Ask family or friends for a helping hand when it comes to moving house. Calling in favours will save you a considerable amount of money. Only move things you want in your new home. There’s no point paying to transport an old sofa that you are considering throwing out. Moving house can be expensive and planning and saving in advance of starting out in a new home is advisable. 

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Kick-start your new year saving plan with €100 from Zurich

Want to give your savings a big kick-start? Start a LifeSave Savings plan with Zurich Life and they will gift you a €100 contribution to your new savings plan. Offer starts January 16th and runs until March 31st.  Terms and conditions apply.

Zurich also has a handy budget and savings calculator to help you get to grips with your monthly incomings and outgoings and see where your biggest savings can be made this year. 

Zurich Life Assurance plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.