Ten ways to reduce your spending this year

1          Before you head to the supermarket to do your grocery shopping, check one of the many useful websites out there to find out what special offers are available that week. Then plan your shopping, make a list and stick to it. Take a look at www.valueireland.ie, www.cheapeats.ie, www.mydeal.ie and www.smartshopper.ie.

2          It’s your choice as to whether you shop in the big multiples or discounters North or South of the Border and no one should tell you otherwise. If you do feel a patriotic twinge, buying local produce could make a difference.

Check out your nearest farmers’ market, visit your independent grocery stores and producers and ask local farmers about buying direct.

3          Sales are no longer the preserve of the New Year. Visit the Kildare Village outlet for permanent discounts of up to 60pc or The Outlet in Banbridge for permanent discounts up to 70pc, where Southerners account for an amazing 80pc of sales recorded.

Take a look at www.thesavvyshopper.ie for updates on special offers and ask about pre-Christmas sale days in your favourite high street stores.

For example, Easons is offering 50pc off its ‘best books of the season’ and have free deliveries on orders over €25 when you buy online at www.eason.ie.

4          Shopping online can be great and if applied right can save you loads.

Shop via www.bethrifty.ie and get cash back to your own account every time you buy something.

Buy discounted cosmetics on www.strawberrynet.com and search eBay for unused toys. www.amazon.co.uk are offering free delivery on most items when you spend more then £25.

If you need extra guidance, take a look at An Post‘s new shopping directory, where discounts are also offered, at www.shoppingdirectory.ie.

5          If you don’t want to or can’t spend money on some things, then visit your nearest swap shop to exchange unwanted clothes for a whole new look.

Deck out your home with free unwanted furniture and other bits and pieces from www.gumtree.ie, where you can also buy second hand and swap. Also check www.barter-it.ie and www.swapbunny.com.

6          Don’t throw out old discs and spend on getting replacements, get them repaired.

CDs, DVDs and games can be repaired at €5.99 per disc by www.discrepair.ie with free postage from anywhere in the country. They charge €6 but you pay to post it, so if you’re in the Cork area, bring your broken discs and games to the www.corkcomputerclinic.ie at their Cork city and Midleton stores.

7          You may want to cut back on going out to save money but when you do go out, plan it by checking out the special deals in restaurants and hotels.

Take a look at www.cheapeats.ie for café and restaurant deals and www.feelingfrugal.ie for special deals on hotels, golf and spas. Another new site is www.tipoff.ie where you can register to get texts about deals and discounts in your chosen areas of interest — from restaurants and concert tickets to sporting events.

8          You should always compare prices while you wander around shops and it’s worth doing it online as well. Check out www.compareireland.ie and www.compare.ie to see if they have different prices listed for what you’re after.

9          Make sure you’re on the right tariff with the right provider for your telephone and mobile needs. Analyse your bill to see how many minutes of calls you make and how many texts, to what networks and when. Then input the details to www.callcosts.ie to see which provider has the best deal for you.

10        Don’t buy bottled water. At around €0.80 for a 1.5 ltr (your recommended daily amount) it really is a very expensive luxury, especially since in Ireland we have perfectly healthy tap water available for next-to-nothing. Don’t like the taste of tap water? Perhaps you could get to like it more easily if you realised drinking the bottled variety could be costing you around €400 a year!