Special Report
A special report is content that is edited and produced by the special reports unit within The Irish Times Content Studio. It is supported by advertisers who may contribute to the report but do not have editorial control.

Start the year by planning ahead to put your finances in order

Spent too much over Christmas? Mabs can give free advice to help get you back on track

No matter what your income, planning for a better financial future is often high on people’s resolution lists.

According to Karl Cronin, regional manager at the North Connacht and Ulster Money Advice and Budgeting Service (Mabs) Regional Office, the new year is a natural time when many people begin to reassess their finances.

“Every year, we tend to see the fallout from the cost of Christmas in late January into February as credit card bills and utility bills issue,” he says. “At this time of year, we strongly advise people to review how much Christmas has cost them, and aim to save up this amount over the next 10 or 11 months to spread the cost of Christmas and remove the financial stress associated with what can be a very expensive time of the year for many.”

The good news is that there are myriad supports available for those finding themselves in a financial funk. For example, Mabs offers free, confidential and independent advice on money management and problem debt. Its network of money advisers are available across Ireland to offer advice and support on budgeting, working through problem debt and enabling people to regain control of their finances. Last year, its helpline received over 23,500 calls.

“Much of our work is based on developing an accurate and sustainable financial statement for the client or household,” Cronin explains, adding that their typical client is aged between 40 and 65.

“We ensure income is being maximised and review expenditure for potential savings, before reviewing the debts and establishing how much is available to address each of them.”

Mabs also has a team of dedicated mortgage advisors for those in danger of losing their home.Cronin stresses that people don’t necessarily have to be in debt to contact Mabs. “We offer advice and support to anyone who wants to prepare a budget, save for a special occasion, or maybe at risk of running into problem debt in the future.” But he urges people who are concerned about debt and money management to contact Mabs at the earliest opportunity.

Longer-term planning

Those who aren't in debt but are keen to build a more secure financial future may feel 2022 is the year to do just that. Irish Life Financial Services (tied to Irish Life Assurance) offers help and advice to customers to identify their protection, pensions, savings, and investment needs.

According to Laura Mongan, head of retail products and propositions with Irish Life, professional advice can help you see the wood for the trees when it comes to proper financial planning. “An adviser will help you get a better sense of your current situation and highlight where you could do more to secure your financial future. They can help you marry the two, creating a financial plan that matches your personal budget and goals,” she says.

Mongan says their research shows that most people have some level of financial concerns. People of all ages contact Irish Life for advice on issues such as planning for retirement, making the most of a lump sum of money such as a redundancy payment or an inheritance, or buying a property or taking out a mortgage. Mongan explains that Irish Life’s adviser or broker will ask for information that helps build a clear picture of someone’s financial situation so they can offer the best possible advice, armed with all the facts.

“This conversation can remind you of the arrangements you have made and help you work out where there may be gaps in cover or opportunities to make your money work harder. Our advisers offer financial advice to hundreds of people across Ireland every day.”

And this service is completely free, with no commitment, she adds. “There’s no hard sell or commitment required to do anything afterwards. So, you can take all the information and advice offered, and move at your own pace.”