Frugal new year: 17 ways to make it to the next pay day

Eat porridge, jump on the wagon, leave your cards at home, and cash in those coppers

Photograph: Thinkstock

Photograph: Thinkstock


So the tree is heading for recycling and what’s left of the turkey has been confined to the bin. Most people will have been paid two week ago and will have to wait almost four weeks for the next pay cheque to hit their account. According to a credit union survey, it will take most consumers more than eight weeks to recover from their spending splurge. Here are some tips to help you out.


1 Eat porridge

Enough porridge to keep a whole family going for seven days costs no more than €1 in your local supermarket, if you choose the right option. A week’s supply of milk for that porridge will cost a fiver, which takes the total cost of breakfast for a family of four to €6. A 1kg box of Kellogg’s Cornflakes, meanwhile, costs nearly a fiver. By swapping to porridge, you’ll shave €20 off your monthly bill. And it’s better for you, too.


2 Make your own lunch

And take it to work with you. A sliced pan and a block of cheese will easily knock €25 a week of the cost of keeping yourself fed throughout the day. You can also make a week’s worth of meaty stew for €5. Five bread rolls to go with it will cost €2, taking the cost of a hearty lunch for a working week to €7, or 80 per cent less than buying a sandwich every day.


3 Cut out your morning coffee too

But just until payday. By cutting out just one takeaway coffee a day for the rest of the month, you will save about €50.


4 Compare prices

Almost half of us have never compared prices to see if we can get our gas or electricity for less. Only a quarter have ever changed health insurance provider. Spend an hour this week shopping around for these three things. It won’t add anything to the bottom line for January, but it will make you feel better about yourself and your finances.


5 The soundness of Spotify

If you listen to music and have yet to discover the joys of Spotify, you’re really missing out.The basic version is free, but for €10 a month you will get access to an enormous array of music. It is like owning a record shop.


6 Your flexible enemy

Take your credit cards out of your wallet and leave them at home. If you have them with you, you might be tempted to lean on them.


7 Drop the debit card

Leave your debit card at home too. It’s much easier to spend €100 on plastic than in cash: you think about it more when you’re handing over notes.


8 The no-spend challenge

Set yourself a challenge to spend nothing for just one day. Then see if you can make it three days. Then five. Spending money is a habit, but if you put your mind to it, it can be broken. You’d be amazed how easy and refreshing it is to get through a whole day without spending a bean.


9 Drop the shops

The key to not spending money is not going in to shops at all this week. If you find yourself weakening, you just need to ask yourself if you really need whatever it is you are tempted to buy. If you can’t answer a truthful yes, then let it go.


10 Booze-free January

Get on the wagon, not forever but until the beginning of next month. New year’s resolutions are always a disaster because they are open-ended and we get bored and drop them, but if you set yourself the goal of getting through the next 25 days, it is much easier to do. The average Irish adult drinks the equivalent of eight pints of beer a week. That’s about €35 if you do all your drinking in a pub. Cut it out for the month and save yourself as much as €140.


11 Switch to own-brand

Pricewatch has long been a convert to own-brand products. We’re not saying they are all lovely; there is some awful stuff selling under the brand names of some of the State’s biggest retailers. But there is also some very high-quality stuff, and typically it sells for 30 per cent less than the brand equivalent.


12 Supermarket sweep

Get to know the time your local supermarket marks down its perishable goods every day. Most do it at about 5pm, but it differs. You’ll save on perfectly good food – and even some treats.


13 Scavenge

Empty your freezer and cupboards. You probably have a whole week’s worth of food in there.


14 Get app happy

Download WhatsApp, Viber and Free Wifi Finder and see how long you can go without using your phone in a way that costs you money.


15 Join your local library

You’ll be amazed at how far they have come.


16 Flog your stuff on eBay

If you have never done it before it might sound complicated, but it is very simple and can be addictive.


17 Cash in your coppers

Last month the Central Bank pleaded for the safe return of hundreds of millions of coppers worth tens of millions of euro that have simply disappeared in Irish homes. You probably have some of them. Cash them in.



We asked Twitter users for their tips to make it through January:


  • Play service suppliers against each other, such as car/health insurance and cable companies, to get the cheapest deal. Caragh Kearney
  • Walk or cycle instead of the bus or car. Feargal MacMeanmain
  • Bargain with everybody! You never know until you ask. Siobhán Brennan
  • Buy only what you need or love. Ann Connolly
  • Do online grocery shopping. Keeps track of total spend as you go and less likely to pick up random frivolous crap you don’t need! Dave Cunningham
  • Light the fire with waste paper and cardboard instead of firelighters. Johann Doorley
  • Don’t shop for food while hungry. I just bought two bags of chocolate pretzels and a pot of jam for no reason. Laura Kennedy
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