Irish households can offset the financial impacts of Covid-19 by saving €5,000 per year in three steps according to Martina Hennessy, a mortgage expert.
She says the average household in Ireland can improve their finances by doing the following:
- Switching their mortgage providers
- Claiming tax rebates
- Changing utility providers
By reviewing these "big-ticket items" during the lockdown, substantial sums can be saved by the average household says Ms Hennessy.
The Managing Director of doddl.ie says: “Spending lockdown time looking at bigger items can substantially improve household finances,
“Switching your mortgage is the one change a household can make that will have the largest impact on your finances."
Ms Hennessy reports an increase in applications to switch mortgage providers from people in recent weeks as people look to make substantial savings.
She says comparing interest rates is the best means to make a saving in the medium term and is a wise use of time amid the Covid-19 lockdown.
She says: “The lowest rate on the market is 2.2%, yet there are still over 220,000 households paying standard variable rates of up to 4.5%.
“Switching from 4.5% to 2.2% will result in a saving of €127 per month for every €100,000 outstanding over a 30-year term.
“On a mortgage of €300,000, the annual saving will be €4,572. Taking a five-year fixed rate at 2.2% will save €22,860 over that period.
“As a rule of thumb anyone who purchased a property after 2008 should review their mortgage regularly."
An investment of hours can pay massive dividends.
Ms Hennessy also says tax refunds applications are another worthwhile exercise with relief available for those now working from home.
“Too many people miss out on claiming their entitlements, believing it either too complicated or not worth their while, but the average refund for a Taxback.com customer is €1,076," says Ms Hennessy.
“You can claim tax relief on the expenses you incur if you are now working from home.
“There are also reliefs available for medical and non-routine dental costs, couples in the first year of marriage and for flat rate expenses, such as €153 for electricians and €518 for teachers.
A final recommendation from the mortgage expert advises Irish households to shop around on their energy suppliers.
She says: “The Commission for Energy Regulation estimates that dual gas and electricity customers who switch suppliers each year save an average of over €400 per annum.
“Choosy.ie, One Big Switch and Switcher.ie allow customers to find better deals than their existing tariffs."
Yesterday the Office of the Revenue Commissioners urged employees working from home to claim tax relief that could be worth €16 per week to them.
Tax refund specialists at Taxback.com said that thousands of employees will never have worked from home before, and so will be completely unaware of the relief that is available to them.