Irish consumers are struggling to make ends meet, with the majority forced to borrow or dip into their savings to meet the cost of essential household bills. This is according to new research published today by independent price comparison and switching site, Switcher.ie.
The findings show that in the last year, over six in ten Irish people (62%) were forced to resort to using credit or our savings to pay basic household bills. Less than four in ten (38%) were able to cover the cost of essential household bills, such as rent or mortgage, insurance, energy and broadband, through their regular income alone.
This suggests that the cost of living is not only a significant challenge for Irish consumers, but could also be a big factor in their levels of household debt. Last year, in order to make ends meet, one in four (26%) used a credit card, while 16% used an overdraft, 12% borrowed money from family and friends, and 8% used a bank loan.
The research shows that people also turned to pawning or selling belongings (4%), and using doorstep lenders/payday loans (2%). According to the survey, a fifth of Irish consumers (17%) are worried about the debt they’ve found themselves in as a result of paying day-to-day living costs and household bills.
More than four in ten (43%) say their rent or mortgage payments cause them financial stress, closely followed by motor tax (40%) and health insurance (36%). One-third of those questioned (34%) said paying their electricity bills puts them under pressure.
The research shows that the constant juggling of money is also taking an emotional toll, with many day-to-day expenses putting householders under pressure. While the CSO recently reported that premiums are going down, motor insurance is still the biggest cause of worry, with almost half (49%) saying this bill puts them under pressure.
Commenting on the research, Managing Director of Switcher.ie, Eoin Clarke said, "It’s true that we may not be able to control our income level or the cost of living, but we can all take steps to control our spending - firstly by creating a weekly or monthly budget and sticking to it where possible and secondly by taking control of our essential household bills. The fact is that many of us stick with the same providers for years and years, automatically renewing our policies and contracts. As a result, we often end up paying far more than we need to for these essentials."
He added, "Some of the biggest financial headaches - such as motor and health insurance, energy bills, and broadband and TV costs - could be easily reduced if you’re willing to set aside an hour or two to shop around for better deals. In fact, switching energy, broadband and mobile plan alone could save you well over €1,000, which could go a long way towards clearing some residual debt, or bulking up your savings."