Irish Financial Review

Managing back-to-school expenses wisely

By Frank Conway –

Back-to-school expenses can place an excessive financial burden on families. So, it is important families are prepared; to budget effectively and where necessary, borrow prudently in the run-up to the back-to-school expenses rush.

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With the right level of planning, back to school expenses can be managed and minimized

Following are some simple tips to help families prepare:


  1. Set your money target – work out how much is needed to cover costs
  2. Review your income – regardless of whether one is employed or self-employed, they must know their the financial bottom line especially their net take-home pay each month (plus any additional money received).
  3. Identify all expenses – this includes all costs, fixed (mortgage, car payment etc) and variable (groceries, entertainment etc).
  4. Set your timeline – if the target is to save €1,200 over the course of a full year (this is slightly more than parents pay in back-to-school costs) this works out at €100 per month.
  5. Stick to the plan – but be flexible. The best way of reaching a money goal is to build in flexibility. No month will ever be the same. Strive to save more than the target amount during months where cash is available as there will also be months where cash will be tight. Over time, it should all balance out.


Some  parents have little choice but to use borrowings to pay for back to school costs, the following are some useful tips to help them borrow effectively.

  1. Credit cards – make the maximum payment, not the minimum. This way, users have the greatest chance of paying the least amount in interest charges and fees – which can add a significant financial cost otherwise.
  2. Short-term – longer term loans may offer the convenience of lower monthly repayments but they also cost much more in interest charges which increase the overall cost to the borrower.
  3. Check the APR, not the rate – the Annual Percentage Rate is the absolute measure of the cost of money and the best measure of the true cost of borrowing.
  4. Avoid late payment charges – those can really add up and make loan repayments crippling.
  5. Say no to money lenders – some charge up to 200% interest rates which cost borrowers significantly more over time.

With sufficient planning and the right amount of money knowledge, back-to-school expenses can be minimized ensuring parents have peace of mind.


PayPal to offer debit cards

PayPal and Visa have announced an extension of their strategic partnership to Europe.


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A growing number of fintech companies are targeting consumers for day-to-day banking services.

PayPal, under its banking license in Europe, will join the Visa network allowing consumers to pay directly with their ewallet funds wherever Visa is accepted. The European partnership will also make it easier for financial institutions who accept PayPal payments to offer Visa checkout options too.

Businesses who accept either payment method will be able to offer both, allowing the two companies to grow exponentially on the European market.

Most importantly, PayPal will have the ability to issue debit cards to European consumers and businesses. In the future, this would make it possible for PayPal customers to use their ewallet funds wherever Visa is accepted worldwide. Furthermore, clients will be able to transfer funds to their debit accounts in real time across multiple markets.

Across Europe, a growing number of non-bank services and financial technology (fintech) firms are eyeing up lucrative market opportunities in the personal financial sector, including Facebook, Samsung and Apple.

Are these Brexit brands bad for Irish families?

One pro-Brexit brand gets reduced  9% VAT while Irish consumers pay full price

A number of UK brands that operate successfully across the Irish market are big supporters of Brexit. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be examining how their Brexit support may impact the Irish economy and Irish families in the coming years.

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Mr. Simon Wolfson of Next is a major Brexit supporter

Next – the boss of Next, Mr. Simon Wolfson has been a major backer of the Brexit campaign. In today’s edition of the UK Independent newspaper, Mr. Wolfson is quoted as saying that he has “no regrets about backing Brexit“. However, since the Brexit vote, a growing number of UK brands have raised their concerns with the UK Tory Government about the return to a hard border between Ireland (and the EU) and the UK. The long-term return of such a border would have a significant social and economic impact across the Irish economy. But Mr. Wolfson does not appear to care.

Wetherspoon – this brand has been looking to expand it’s foothold in the Irish economy and is currently a beneficiary of the reduced 9% VAT rates across the hospitality sector. But, rather than thank Ireland for lower VAT rates, head of Weatherspoons has been a vitriolic critic of the EU and everything it stands for. That man is Tim Martin and he has used highly derogatory and inaccurate language calling the EU’ a body of unelected apparatchiks“. Mr. Martin is of course completely wrong. EU parliamentarians are of course elected by EU citizens in the EU parliament elections and various agencies within the overall framework are established at the direction of the EU Parliament. Weatherspoons operates a number of pubs in Dublin and Cork including The Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire, The Great Wood in Blanchardstown, The Old Borough in Swords and The Linen Weaver in Cork. Tim Martin clearly does not care about the impact a hard Brexit will have on the Irish economy and the health of the Irish economy.

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Mr. Tim Martin has been incorrectly described EU parliamentarians and ‘unelected’ and has been a leading Brexit campaigner despite owing a number of pubs in the Republic of Ireland

In summary

As it stands, the so-called ‘hard Brexit’ advocated by Tory Prime Minister Theresa May will result in a significant loss of jobs across Ireland. For Irish consumers, in order to protect their personal financial well-being, they need to start thinking about the financial impact on them and their families. Brands that support Brexit have a right to their positions. But Irish consumers would do well to understand what those positions really mean to them and their families.

More to follow.

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