Financial Comparison and Government Websites – Ireland

Updated: 25th May 2018

Comparison Websites

If you type “price comparison website” into any search engine and you will be presented with scores of sites promising to save you money on everything from your broadband and phone to travel insurance. While many of the sites are automated and just trawl other websites to collate pricing information in real time for people too busy to do the research themselves, there are also a growing number of personalised services which use real interaction to find people better value for money.

The first area where money can be saved is utility bills. A couple of years back, hundreds of thousands of Irish people cleverly made the Big Switch and moved from ESB to Bord Gáis Energy (both previously Irish state owned), which was promising to undercut the one-time monopoly by as much as 20 per cent. People made the change and then thought the job was done and they would be able to avail of the savings for ever, but after the year-one discounts were gone, the providers quickly switch consumers back to the higher rate – so what people need to do is shop around all the time.

Activities – Comparison Websites

Compare broadband offers in your local area

Compare broadband offers in your local area by using accredited websites below, and decide on which option offers lowest price and unlimited download capacity.

www.bonkers.ie

www.switcher.ie

Compare Mortgages to Find a Lower Interest Rate

Compare mortgages at the CCPC website below and decide if you are a first time buyer or if you are a likely mortgage switcher.

www.ccpc.ie/consumers/financial-comparisons/mortgage-comparisons/

Government Services - Ireland

MyGovID

www.mygovid.ie gives Irish citizens a secure “single sign on” to their public services. It is built on the Public Services Card, linking a ‘real word’ identity to an online identity. It can already be used to access Revenue’s ‘myAccount’ services and ‘MyWelfare.ie’ online services from the Department of Social Protection.

MyGovId provides users with a safe secure online identity for Irish government services. A MyGovId account will act as a secure “single sign on” identity for multiple online government services across a variety of government and public sector organisations.

Users can already access a range of social welfare services and Revenue’s “MyAccount” service using a MyGovID account. Eventually, all government online services will migrate to the secure MyGovID platform.

See more in press release from 23rd March 2017:

www.per.gov.ie/ga/government-launches-mygovid-a-safe-secure-online-identity-for-government-services-in-ireland/

Besides the www.mygovid.ie website mentioned above, here is a list of the main Irish government websites:

Irish Government Information Portal

www.gov.ie/en

myAccount enables you to access PAYE services (including Jobs and Pensions), Local Property Tax, Home Renovation Incentive and many more services using a single login and password. You can also update your personal details, review your tax affairs, make payments and apply for certain tax reliefs and incentives.

www.ros.ie/myaccount-web/home.html

MyWelfare website can be used for a variety of services including application services, jobseeker's services, request payment statements and booking appointments for allocation of Personal Public Service Numbers and Public Services Cards.

www.mywelfare.ie

MABS is the Irish State’s money advice service, guiding people through dealing with problem debt for more than twenty years.

www.mabs.ie

And finally, here is a website that needs no introduction…

www.revenue.ie

Activities – Government Services

Calculate Income Tax Payable

Calculate your income tax payable by referring to revenue website to find out tax credits and standard rate cut-off point, and then checking it corresponds with amount deducted each week/month from your wages/salary.

See the following websites for guidance…
www.citizensinformation.ie/en/reference/case_studies/case_study_calculating_your_income_tax_case_studies.html
www.revenue.ie/en/tax/index.html

 

Paying Bills Online – Ireland

Updated: 25th May 2018

Online bill pay saves you time and eliminates the hassle of writing out a cheque, addressing an envelope, mailing the payment and filing the papers. With electronic statements and billing, all you have to do is set up your account online and you are on your way to easy and convenient management of your account.

Online statements allow you to easily review past bills online in one centralised location. Furthermore, paying your bill online means there is no chance your payment will become lost in the mail and since most payments are posted to your Utility provider within 3 days, you reduce the chance of late fees or penalties.

Online Banking

The first step to avail of online banking is to register with your bank either online or by giving them a phone call. The registration process is quite straightforward when you have an existing current account. Once registered, you will typically be given a Registration number and Personal Access Code (PAC) which you can use to access Online Banking.

Benefits of Online Banking include:

  • Easy-to-use
  • Online account & credit card statements available
  • Bank securely 365 days a year
  • Customer Service Advisers are available for non-routine transactions

Typical features available:

  • Check your account transactions & balances
  • View your eStatements and eFee Advices
  • Make payments to Utility Services and other Payees
  • Create Standing Orders and Manage Direct Debits
  • Transfer money between accounts domestically and internationally
  • Order a cheque book

Utility Providers Website

The main Household Utility Providers in Dublin include Electric Ireland for electricity and gas, Bord Gais & Flogas for gas, Vodafone, Eir, Sky & Virgin Media for Internet, TV and Phone and Panda & Greenstar for waste disposal. All of these Utility Providers have their own website where a customer will be given access to an online account with the following benefits & services:

Benefits of Paying on Utility Providers website include:

  • Easy-to-use
  • Online bills available for printing (e.g for Proof of Address to open Bank a/c)
  • Pay securely 365 days a year
  • Credit Card accepted (which is not the case with mybills.ie)

Typical features available:

  • View your current service provider account
  • View your bills from the past 12-18 months
  • Edit your contact & bank details
  • Submit meter readings (where relevant e.g Electric Ireland, Bord Gais etc)
  • Make debit/credit card payments or set-up direct debit online

mybills.ie

Mybills.ie is a website provided by An Post, that allows you pay over 100 billers including major utility providers, charities and online catalogues using your debit card or bank account. Credit cards are not currently accepted, presumably to discourage people from borrowing to pay regular bills – this could be a serious drawback for people who always pay their credit card bills in full.

Benefits of Paying Bills on Mybills.ie include:

  • Easy-to-use
  • Pay securely 365 days a year
  • Run by reputable state company i.e An Post
  • Manage all your bills on a single website

Actual features available:

  • Pay multiple bills in one step while showing a running total on screen
  • Bill Payment History by single or group of bills
  • Scheduled Payments so you can pay regular bills when income is available in your account
  • Payment Flexibility to pay a portion of a bill with a view to paying the remaining balance at a later stage.

See more at :-

http://www.anpost.ie/AnPost/mybills.htm

 

Dublin City Council Payments

See the website below :-

http://www.dublincity.ie/main-menu-services-housing-apply-mortgage/pay-your-bills

Safe Online Payments

Before you type your card details into a website, check that the site is secure. Look out for a small padlock symbol in the address bar (or elsewhere in your browser window) and a web address beginning with https:// (the s stands for 'secure').

You also need to check that the website is trustworthy. Here are a few suggestions for ways in which you can reduce the risk of using a fraudulent site:

  • Be suspicious of offers that seem too good to be true. This could indicate that a site might be selling illegal or pirated items.
  • If you're not familiar with the website, you could ask family members, friends or colleagues for their opinion. They might be able to offer you alternative recommendations.
  • You could also do an internet search to see if the site you are investigating is mentioned favourably on sites you already trust.

For more information about buying online, check out these websites…

https://www.ccpc.ie/consumers/shopping/buying-online/

https://www.eccireland.ie/faqs/shopping-online/

Manage Your Money

Updated: 25th May 2018

Many people have experienced financial difficulty due to recession, reduction in working hours or job loss, or need for expensive medical procedure. You may have high outgoings like college fees and books, car maintenance or upgrade, or high rent/mortgage fees.

There are also other factors that can contribute to financial difficulty such as a relationship breakdown, increased expenditure or poor budgeting with simply not enough money to go around.

 

Step 1 – Complete a Financial Health Check

A financial health check will give you a clear picture of your finances and helps you identify where you need to make changes. You should complete this step at least once a year, particularly if your income changes or you experience a big life event. See Consumerhelp website link below for steps to carry out financial health check.

Step 2a – Identify Your Goals

Whether it is saving for a holiday next year, paying off your credit card debt or starting an emergency fund, everybody has different goals. When you have a goal, you will find it easier to stick to a budget. Once you identify your goal, you need to work out how much it will cost and how you will put money aside to achieve it.

Step 2b – Prioritise Goals

Once you have a list of Goals, you should then list them in order of priority so that you can attend to most important ones first. For instance, would you rather pay off your mortgage ten years early or take a holiday. Is being able to retire early more important than putting your children through college.

Step 3 – Make a Budget

A budget is simply a plan showing how much you expect to receive and how you plan to spend it. It will show you how much money is coming into your household, your main outgoings and how much you can afford to offer to those you owe money to - your Creditors like Credit Card Bills, Loans Outstanding etc. For Goals set in 2a above, you may need to set realistic targets and work towards them in easy stages. You should allocate a certain amount each month towards your Goal so that you can gradually save the required amount in time for the event e.g Education Fees need to be available in time for your eldest child starting College.

See more at :-

https://www.ccpc.ie/consumers/money/budgeting/managing-your-money/

Activities – Managing Your Money

Produce Excel Cash Flow chart using Budget spreadsheet as Input

Introduction

This tutorial takes you through all the steps to produce an Excel Cash Flow Chart for a typical 6 month budget period. The Excel Cash Flow Chart will give you an idea how well your budget will balance over a given budget period – it shows at a glance if your balance will be likely to grow, breakeven or go into a deficit.

Step 1 – Open Sample Budget Cashflow Spreadsheet

There is a sample Budget Cashflow Spreadsheet available in the following shared folder for you to use, it is called - GNUCashflowanalysis - PC Tutor - Qtr 3 2017.xlsx

PC Tutor Activity Files

Step 2 - Set-up personal budget for 3-6 month period

The first step in creating a budget is to decide what it is you want to track and analyse. This decision will affect which sections you include in the sample Budget Cashflow Spreadsheet.  For example, if you want to track all your cash flow, you may create a cash flow budget by entering amounts for asset, liability, income and expense categories.

Before creating a budget, you must also decide what period of time you want to plan for. The most common budget periods are monthly and annual. If you want your budget to plan for changes in financial patterns over time, then you should include multiple budget periods in your budget. For example, if you want to plan on having higher utility expenses in the winter than in the summer, then you might break your annual budget into 4 quarters or even 12 months, and budget a higher value for the winter periods than for the summer periods.

Figure: Sample Budget Cashflow Spreadsheet showing 6 month budget from July 2017

Step 3 – Copy balance from Budget Worksheet and Paste into Cash Flow Analysis Worksheet

Figure: Copy Monthly Budget Balance from July 2017 to Dec 2017 from Budget Worksheet

Figure: Pasting of link for Monthly Budget Balance into Cash Flow Analysis worksheet

Step 4 - Interpret results.

Figure: Cash Flow Analysis Calculations

On the screen above, you can see the Cashflow calculations in the Closing Balance row. It is basically a cumulative sum of each Monthly Budget Balance within budget period.

Figure: Cash Flow Analysis Chart

Finally, the above Cash Flow Analysis chart shows how the budget balance grows during the budget period.