Two-thirds have less to spend than last year


THE FIRST quarterly spending survey of 2012 which is published by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) this morning will make for depressing reading.

Almost two-thirds of the adults surveyed have less to spend now than they did last year, while 16 per cent of those surveyed said they had nothing left at the end of each month and 6 per cent said they have less than €20 left.

Nearly 70 per cent of respondents said they were worried about not paying their bills, while 24 per cent said it left them “really worried and stressed”.

On savings, the situation was not much better, with 46 per cent unable to put any money aside.

The ILCU has introduced a new element to its quarterly survey this month and will use a series of case studies across four demographics to highlight the financial pressures felt by Irish consumers and to try to help people to improve their situation.

Its “Fix Your Finances” project will see the four case studies detailing the state of their finances at regular intervals.

Through the website, they will track their disposable income, where they are feeling financial pressure and what their main financial concerns are each month.

Midway through the process an independent financial adviser will be brought in to help them better manage their money.

It is hoped that by the end of 2012, they will have a better organised approach to money management.

The youngest in the case study is Darragh Mullen (19) a psychology student at NUI Maynooth, while the oldest is 72-year-old Peter O’Brien from Tallaght. Also involved are Dara Mahon (42) from Limerick, and the Carroll family from Dublin.

Ms Mahon is an office administrator and rents her home. Her annual income is €25,000 down €13,000 on last year. Although she has very little left to spend at the end of each month once essentials are paid she tries to save about €40 per week. Her most pressing concern is affordable health insurance.

Marise and Derek Carroll and their adult daughters Michelle and Laura live in Knocklyon. Both parents work full-time and their joint annual income is about €56,000.

The family’s biggest expenditures each month are mortgage and loan repayments. Each member of the family owns a car.

Darragh Mullen (19) lives in Rathfarnham with his parents and is a first-year student.

He works part-time in his local pub earning €2,000 a year. His only monthly disposable income is tips of about €130, €80 of which he is saving for his summer holiday.

He says his biggest financial challenge is the cost of petrol and his most pressing concern is he won’t be able to afford fuel for his mother’s car.

Peter O’Brien (72) lives in Tallaght with his wife. He is retired and has a State and private pension and is still paying off a mortgage which is the main outgoing.

He says the main extra pressure he has felt from the austerity measures is the household charge.

ILCU chief executive Kieran Brennan said the case studies would “bring a real-life dimension to the research”. He said each one had been chosen because they “reflect the national population”.

Mr Brennan said that “every Irish person has been impacted in some way by the current financial crisis and we want to let people know that they are not alone in their struggles.

“The aim of the ‘Fix your Finances’ project is to show how different people are affected in different ways by things like increased motoring costs, the household charge, grocery prices, college/school costs, loan repayments including mortgage and rent, health insurance.”