Cold Turkey for Big Spenders. In today’s treat yo’self culture, we tend to fuel fire with fire. Turning 30? I smell Prosecco. Promoted in work? Weekend in Europe. Survived hump day? Domino’s for one.
The hangover of Christmas is still lurking but the new year is in sight. New year, new you, less shoes. You’re about to go cold turkey on all indulgences. So, why not take wellness beyond the body and exercise some financial fitness?
New film Downsizing (in cinemas January 24) stars Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig as a couple trapped in the rat race, longing for an easier life with less debt and more disposable income. Science interjects with the solution – a newly-invented procedure to shrink their bodies to 5 inches so they can live a more financially viable and sustainable life. But their plans to get rich or die tryin’ don’t exactly pan out as expected.
You don’t need to turn to drastic measures to cast the shackles of debt to the wayside. Here’s our tried and tested tips that will send you on your way to paying off your mortgage early.
Switch it Up
You probably opened your first bank account with the lure of a free money box and card holder (wallets were for yuppies, yo) but have you recently evaluated whether your bank is right for you? Monthly fees can vary greatly from one financial institution to another so it’s well worth shopping around for the best rate. Not only do some banks offer sign-up incentives, they may offer favourable rates for new customers. If you don’t fancy the hassle of changing banks, use the new offer as a bargaining chip to whittle down costs in your existing account.
In no way related to an abs crunch (sigh of relief), you may have the power to negotiate rates with your credit card company or complete a balance transfer to a new card. Most banks have some wiggle room, especially if you’ve been consistent in paying your balance on a monthly basis. Make a phone call to your card issuer (the number is on the back of your card) – you may be entitled to switch your balance to an entirely different card as well.
Your broadband and cable bill shave a huge chunk off your monthly wage packet. Some of the leading TV and broadband services in Ireland cost between 40 and 140 euro per month. Visit new website Switcher.ie to compare prices between the leading service providers. If you find yourself watching everything on Netflix, why not call your cable provider and discuss cutting it off or at least reducing the bill? Cutting down on live TV not only means lower electric and cable bills, it also means no ads. And no ads means no getting sucked in by the latest gadgets and special offers. Not that we’re ones to judge.
While your on Switcher.ie go compare gas and electricity prices too. Once you have found the best option, turn the heating down by one or two degrees and see if there are any radiators (like in the garage) that can be switched off, while not forgetting to turn off unused appliances. These tweaks can make all the difference.
Stop collecting, and start selling
It’s time to Marie Kondo-ify your scrap heap. If it’s not sparking joy, get rid of it. We’re all a little guilty of hoarding those things we think will have value in several years to come. How’s that worked out so far? Still not making a mint? Donate, sell and scrap the crap.
You probably have a rake of barely worn clothes/shoes/perfumes in your wardrobe with new additions every season. There are a plethora of selling sites out there and most have apps where you can upload photos straight from your phone. Adverts, Done Deal and Ebay are old favourites websites and newer sites like Depop, Vestiaire Collective and most recently, Facebook Marketplace allow you to get a little bit more creative. Depop has a featured section whereby if you have a creative way of wearing your outfit, you could be featured for thousands of followers to see. You can also use hashtags so it’s easier for people to locate your items.
Consignment stores are popping up more and more across Ireland. Shops like Siopaella, Designer Exchange and Ruby Ruby accept pre-loved clothes, bags and accessories. Your item is housed in store for 3 months and if it doesn’t sell in that time you can retrieve or donate your product. Once it’s located elsewhere, you might just realise how little you miss it.
Sign up for Rewards Cards
There is an age old adage that says never shop for food when you’re hungry. Be vigilant with your spending. Make a list and check it twice. When you’re list-less, you’re far more likely to splurge on an impulse buy, racking up another €20 without even knowing it. We all have great intentions but hold back on buying quinoa and kale in bulk if you’re just dipping your toes into Veganuary. Easy does it, tiger. Most of the nationwide supermarkets have cash back rewards cards. Keep the fob on your keyring and you’ll have racked up cashback in no time, trust us. Supervalu, Tesco and Dunnes Stores all have great schemes but it’s not just food stores that reward your loyalty. Brown Thomas, Arnotts, O’Brien’s Wines, Boots and a selection of local pharmacies all give more bang for your buck.
Take the hit
Buying coffee can be one of the most costly habits you can have. Most local coffee shops will have cards you can stamp. Bewley’s Coffee is probably the best one, giving you a free cup every fifth one. The cost of a speciality coffee is approximately €3.40 but that means that you’re getting €3.40 back for every €13.60 spent. We’re not thieves of joy but swapping your takeaway coffee out for an Espresso machine or French press will save you a huge amount in the long run. Or better still, instead of buying every day, start by buying 5 days a week. You could say €16 a month. Not to be sniffed at.
New research from behavioural economists (note to self: suggest this career path to future offspring) shows that automatically setting up a standing order or direct debit into a savings account is the best way to save. Putting away 10-15% of your monthly salary might seem impossible but if the money goes straight out, you might not even notice it and it will force you to cut costs at whatever the price.
Re-finance your mortgage
It’s not that common, it doesn’t happen to every guy and it is a big deal. Paying off your mortgage early isn’t the norm in Ireland right now but it does happen and deserves some serious kudos. A 15/20 year mortgage might take a larger percentage of your take-home pay but it gives you a lot more freedom down the road and allows you to actually own your house before you’re in the final strait. Re-financing has had some pretty bad publicity. Yes, it requires a new appraisal, title search and application fees but it gives homeowners a solid opportunity to reduce the loan’s term up to 50%. If your credit score has gone up or interest rates have gone down, re-financing could be a great way to save.
Spending is fun. That rush of dopamine when you click add to cart can provide the boost we needed. But, depending on the purchase, this hit can be fleeting. How much more rewarding is it to reward oneself judiciously and save so that you can pay off your mortgage early? Try it, budget and see.
If you’re thinking of trading up, down or moving neighbourhoods book your free valuation here today.