New research published today by independent price comparison and switching site, Switcher.ie has revealed the worrying extent to which Irish consumers relying on credit and savings to cover the cost of essential household bills.
The research shows that dipping into savings is the most common method people use when trying to cover essential bills, with 38% admitting to doing so last year. Consumers have also admitted to using short-term fixes such as credits cards (26%) and borrowing money from family/friends or the bank (21%) to cover the cost of household bills.
Others say they have used money given to them by family and friends (11%) while some (4%) have resorted to pawning or selling their belongings to make ends meet.
Furthermore, the research shows this reliance on accessing savings, using credit and borrowing money to cover essential utilities reflects the pressure put on Irish households when it comes to keeping up with the expensive cost of living. It therefore comes as no surprise that almost four in ten (37%) consumers say they are in some kind of debt. Of those who have some form of debt, over one in ten (14%) admit that they worry about it.
The research also shines a light on the household bills that cause financial pressure for households - with motor insurance coming out on top (44%) followed closely by rent and mortgage repayments (43%). Other household essentials, such as property tax (33%), electricity (29%), broadband/internet (26%) and paid TV services (26%) are also identified as expenses that put a strain on family finances.
These pressures not only take a toll on consumers financial footing, but it can also have a knock-on effect when it comes to their mental and physical well-being. Research from Switcher.ie in December last year revealed that 54% of people believe their financial worries have an impact on their mental health and 44% on their physical health.
Commenting on the research, Managing Director of Switcher.ie, Eoin Clarke said, "If you’re still struggling after making a budget then there are ways you can save and put a bit of extra money back in your pocket to help ease the strain. Reviewing your monthly payments to make sure you’re not forking out for services you don’t use can also really help save you money. For example, if you predominantly use streaming services to watch television you should consider opting out of your paid TV package if you rarely use it. While switching your household energy, broadband and mobile plans can also significantly reduce your monthly bills - especially if you haven’t switched in a while. Right now by switching your gas and electricity alone you could save up to €396, which you could put towards paying off some of your existing debts or put away into savings."