Live Q&A "Family Finances" with Aine Carroll of


Live Q&A “Family Finances” with Aine Carroll of


Welcome to our Live Q&A with Aine Carroll of and the National Consumer Agency. Aine is our guest expert tonight and will take your questions about Family Finances. So thanks to Aine for taking the time to join us and remember to refresh your screen (F5 button) to see new questions and Aine’s responses.

Susan asked earlier “What age would you recommend starting saving for your child’s third level education?”
Lisa Brill McHale: at birth!
Sonya O’Leary: id say when u start thinkin about havin kids ūüėČ
National Consumer Agency: Hi Susan. The earlier the better like most things! What you want to do is get an account that gives you a good rate of interest & you as might be happy locking your money away that will help. You would want to give yourself 3 – 10 years (obvisouly depending on how much money you want to save) Check out the savings rates available on¬†–
Allison Caslin My lil ones school has a scheme from junior infants ya can put in what ever every wk dey make da interest but its so handy i tink every sch shud do it
Lory Manrique-Hyland Now
Lorraine Goggin have had a account open for all three a long time putting small funds away
Liz Morgan Every single penny of my children‚Äôs allowance is in an account for their future -and I‚Äôm still afraid its not ever going to be enough, but i will Never spend it on anything else…


Belinda Jane Higgins How many insurance quotes should you try to get when shopping around and reviewing your policies before renewing them? Or is there an easier way to compare products and costs?
National Consumer Agency Hi Belinda. We would recommend getting at least three quotes when you are shopping around for your insurance or use a broker. We have great shopping around checlists for motor and home insurance which you can use to compare the different benefits and features of insurance policies when you are shopping around. They are available here-
Belinda Jane Higgins Thanks. Also, is it a good idea to have insurance policies with one company? Some of them offer discounts if you have say both your health and motor policy with them, for example? I’ll bookmark that link
National Consumer Agency If you get good discounts then yes it’s a great¬†idea! But make sure you’re not losing out on a better value policy elsewhere. Shop around for each type of insurance first & then see what discounts are on offer. And bargain!


Anne emailed earlier – ” I currently have no life assurance and do not own¬†a house, I want a policy in case something happened me but I do not know where to start, there is too much choice and jargon”
National Consumer Agency Life insurance can be a bit daunting! Best place to start is to think about how much money your dependants would need if something happened to you. And there is also the question of how long you need your policy to last. That has a huge bearing on the cost. A goodplace to start is at You might want to think about other types of insurance if you get sick/lose your job –


Annette O’Donnell: If you sell your house and had mortgage life insurance on it, can you continue paying into that policy or does it end when sale goes through?
National Consumer Agency: Hi Annette, You’ve usually got two options- cancel your mortgage protection cover and pay no further premiums or¬†keep the policy and pay premiums until the original end date
National Consumer Agency Just to add that you may not have this option of keeping your mortgage protection policy if it was taken out through a group policy with your lender, as they will usually close off the policy when your mortgage is cleared.
Annette O’Donnell: Thanks but what benefit is there in keeping it?
National Consumer Agency: Hi Annette, it acts as a life insurance policy if you still need the cover so it could be cheaper than taking out a new policy.
Annette O’Donnell: ah ok thanks
Nina Warde Hi just to point out re a mortgage protection policy 1) even if your mortgage is paid off it’s up to you to cancel the policy with the insurance company not mortgage lender and 2) unless things have changed in the last couple of years mortg…age protection is solely a life assurance policy for your mortgage (to protect the lender in the event of death of the lender). So you would need to double check on the type of policy you have. Once the lending company been paid the debt there is no further use for this type of policy for you. Hope this makes sense!!!


Lèon Fox Do you have to wait until your House insurance is up for renewal before switching companies?
National Consumer Agency: Hi Leon. You can switch your home insurance at any time but if you have paid for your insurance in advance check withyour insurance company to see if you will get a refund on the remaining month’s premiums before switching.
Lèon Fox: Great thanks


Etain Wilson: I have an older child, and haven’t really started giving him pocket money, should I start – does this help them to learn the value of money ?
National Consumer Agency: Hi Etain. It is important that children have an understanding about the value of money. You can help them achieve this by giving them pocket money maybe in return for them doing a few jobs around the house. It is also important that they understand that they may need to  make choices when they spend their money and that you encourage them to save a little reguarly maybe by opening a savings account. We did a piece recently on teaching children good money skills which might be of interest to you-
Etain Wilson: thanks for that i’ll check it out


Helen Gaffney A friend has booked her wedding for September – with the vat decrease on food, etc should the hotel pass this on to her?
National Consumer Agency Hi Helen. Yes they should as the VAT rate in Sept will be 9% – you can get more info over on our consumer rights website.
Helen Gaffney: Thanks just discussing it today – will pass the info on.
National Consumer Agency: Enjoy the wedding!


Mykidstime: Jennifer asked earlier ” We get paid monthly and no matter how much we budget, it never works out and we always end up short on the last week of the month! Any tips?”
National Consumer Agency: I know the feeling! You might want to go back through your budget and cut out anything discretionery – and look at the dates of your direct debits and standing orders too. Than can help. Try our budget planner too?


Mykidstime: Fiona asked earlier – ” we have some credit card debt but also have some savings, would be better off paying off the debt now? We arereluctant to lose our emergency savings though”
National Consumer Agency: A good rule of thumb is always to have 3 months salary in an emergency fund (easier said than done!) Although you areprobably paying far more interest on your credit card than you are earning on your savings, keep some savings for a rainy …day. You could try transferring the balance to a 0% card that would help you to pay it off quicker- check out what’s available here
National Consumer Agency: Also – forgot to mention if you don’t want¬†‘on demand’ access to your money, you might get a better rate.


Belinda Jane Higgins: And where is best to have a savings account – or is it a matter of shopping around again?
National Consumer Agency: Hi Belinda, this depends on your savings objectives but we would always recommend you go for an account with a good rate of¬†interest. If you are looking at saving money regularly we have a regualr¬†savings cost comparison on our website, its… which gives the most up-to-date rate of interest for regualr savings accounts available in Ireland. Always check and see what acccess you will have to your money aswell as some may restrict access for a period of time.


L√®on Fox: Any advice on how to budget the costs of having more kids ? We’d love to have more but don’t know how we’d afford it
National Consumer Agency: Hi Leon. We have loads of info here – You might also want to download our ‘Baby Steps Guide’ – though as you say ‘more kids’ you probably know most of it already! A good regular savings account would be a good place to start –
L√®on Fox: Thanks, that’s great. We do have 3 other kids but lots of my friends are only starting down that route so I will tell them about the Baby Steps Guide


Mykidstime: A parent asked earlier – ” We are struggling with Back to School costs but do not qualify for the back to school grant, is there any other options available”
Sandy Shaheen: What is a back to school grant please?
Lisa Reilly: some schools have a book grant . i cant have it either cause d hubbie is self employed so unfair i no ppl who earn alot more than him i dont work yet they can avail very unfair system
Mandy Murray O’Rorke: has a new category for Second Hand School Uniforms.
Marian Robinson: Do you mean the Back to footwear and clothing allowance from the dept of Social Protection??
Mykidstime Info on Back to School allowance –¬†Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BTSCFA) helps you meet the cost of uniforms and footwear for children going to school. The scheme operates from June to September each year…
National Consumer Agency Hi. This is a very expensive time of year for parents. We will shortly be publishing a back to school budget planner to help parents plan their spending so that they can budget and prioritise their spending. It will be up in the next few days on It might also be worth taking a look at your monthly household budget and see if you can make savings on some of your current spending which you can then put towards the back to school costs
Cora Ahern The link above is to the Social Welfare page… it’s means tested, but if you qualify……..
Maria McKevitt (on facebook too) offer a book and uniform swap
Karen Hearne: ‚Äé@ National Consumer Agency, it’s a bit hard to make cuts on spending that we’ve already made cuts on!!! I have cut down on many things just so I can pay household bills and with only my husband working. So unfortunately we dont qualify for back to school grant either, unlike many others who earn more and seem to qualify for everything!!!!


Jennifer Buttner: Hi. We switched to electricity from Bord Gais a while back as part of the Big Switch. Should we now switch back to ESB with their new deals – will there be real long-term savings in going back ?
National Consumer Agency Hi Jennifer. Since 4 April 2011, ESB Electric Ireland has been able to set its rates for electricity without approval from the Commission for Energy Regulation in the same way to Airtricity and Bord G√°is Energy. So they have discounts that …were not available before. No guarantee how long any discounts will last with a provider but switching is easy (as you know) so you can just keep an eye on the market. You can get a full list of providers from


Mykidstime: Linda asks ” Is Hire Purchase ever a good option?”
National Consumer Agency Hire purchase is fine – unless you can’t afford the repayments because you don’t own the car until you make the last repayment. So, you can’t sell it if you neeed to pay back what you owe. It can be convenient to get your car finance like this from the garage but make sure you know what you’re getting and compare the cost of credit against other options (like personal loans).
Ann Barrett nope if you can mange to wait and save up it would be better
Patricia O’Donnell Flynn Their rates can be higher than banks
National Consumer Agency Not always – but they are totally different products so make sure you know before you sign up.

Mykidstime: Last question from Tara ” Where would you recommend investing money at the moment”
National Consumer Agency That depends on your attitude to risk & your goals. A good financial advisor can help – as can our website. Check out the saving & investing info.
Liz Morgan I missed the session tonight, but this is such a NON answer- really!! Of course there are variables, but give a decent answer please ūüôā
Tina Leeson Have to agree with Liz there

National Consumer Agency Thanks everyone for all your really interesting questions. Hope we helped a bit! Big thanks to Aoife working with me tonight too. Time to go home!
Belinda Jane Higgins: That was really interesting – thanks!
Mykidstime thanks again for a great session very interesting!
Jennifer Buttner Thanks, very helpful
Denise McDonnell thank you for all that info..very interestng and informative..!!
Helen Gaffney Thanks – great info

Mykidstime Thank you to the National Consumer Agency for joining us this evening. More information can be found on

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