The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) has today announced the launch of their second 2012 ‘What’s Left’ tracker. Carrying on from the 2011 series, the 2012 trackers publish how much disposable income Irish people have left, where they are spending their money and the financial hardships they are facing.
Disposable Income Decreases
1,820,000 left with €100 or less each month after essential bills are paid. Disposable income in Ireland has dropped in the past three months since the April 2012 tracker was recorded, with 69% of people having less than they had 12 months ago (2011).
Consumer sentiment has weakened. 87% now worry about how they will cope if unforeseen expenses arise (increase from April figures of 84%). Many also show greater concerns over their ability to continue coping financially if further changes are made to social welfare or income tax (increase to 81% in June from December figures of 71% and April figure of 73%). Additionally 61% (vs. December 2011 59% and April 57%) agreed that they are currently living to work as opposed to working to live.
Half of bank account holders (50%) are unaware of what their bank charges to operate their current account. In addition, 54% of current account holders have no idea what they pay would pay in charges if their account is overdrawn. Of those that are aware of bank charges, the majority of (41%) try to maintain a minimum balance on their account to avoid bank fees while a further 13% reduce or limit transactions to meet their banks requirements. 13% would increase transactions to meet bank requirements and a further 15% have switched to another bank for lower banking charges.
Negative Income and Reliance on Credit Cards
62% of the population have some form of loan exposure. 39% of Irish people are exposed to credit card debt. 25% of those with a credit card depend on it to make ends meet each month. 28% of those with credit cards miss payments. 34% only make the minimum payment on their card each month. The average amount owed by Irish consumers on their credit card is €1,100. Worryingly only 54% are aware of the interest on their credit card, meaning 46% do not know their credit card interest rate.
Mortgage and rent continue to be the most expensive bills for the majority of Irish adults (72%). Groceries remain in second place (57%). Utility bills remain in third position (54%). Transport and car related costs retain their position in fourth place with loans and repayments moving up the list into fifth place (increase to 27% in June from 21% in April).
Rising utility costs (gas and electricity) had increased the financial pressure on families, with all utility providers announcing various increases. 40% of consumers have had to borrow to pay their household bills in the past 12 months. Of this group, the largest proportion rely on financial help from family and friends, 30% use the credit union 10% rely on their bank and 10% on moneylenders.
Delayed Bill Payments
47% of consumers struggle to pay all of their bills on time. This figure has remained the same since the April 2012 tracker was recorded. TV license (17%), TV/ telecoms (8%), bin charges (7%), and electricity (7%) are the bills most likely to be put off by consumers. 44% of those who cannot pay their bills on time are very stressed and worried.
Work Related Expenses
Child care comes in as the greatest work related expense at €520 per month on average (of those with children), this is followed by car fuel (€145) per month, daily lunches (€110) per month and public transport (€77) per month.