THE STATE of Irish consumers’ finances continues to worsen with half of all adults now saying they struggle to pay bills on time, research published by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) this morning indicates.
Its third What’s Left tracker survey of the year found 1.85 million adults have less than €25 a week to spend after essential bills are paid. This compares with a figure of 1.82 million in July and 1.64 million in April. Since the last survey, there has been an increase of 28,000 in the number of adults with nothing left at all after essential bills are paid.
Consumer sentiment remains weak, particularly among those with little or no income left at the end of the month. Of this group, 90 per cent are worried about how they will cope if unforeseen expenses crop up, while 60 per cent said they were living to work as opposed to working to live.
The survey also shows that 42 per cent of Irish adults have had to borrow money to pay bills on at least one occasion over the last 12 months, while 70 per cent say they cannot save any money, the highest figure recorded by the ILCU since it started tracking spending nearly two years ago.
Some 58 per cent turned to family and friends for help, with 24 per cent using credit union loans to meet household bills.
Mortgage or rent continues to be the most expensive bill for the majority, with 70 per cent saying it was their single biggest expense. Utility bills are now in second place as a result of increases in gas and electricity prices and the colder weather.
Transport and car-related costs continue to creep up the list and are now in fourth position.
Some 96 per cent say they are worried about the impact December’s budget will have on their day-to-day spending, and 80 per cent are concerned they will not be able to cover the cost of heating and lighting their homes in the face of rising utility costs.
Despite the gloomy outlook, only one in five people said they would be cutting back on Christmas spending this year. The bills most likely to be put off are TV licence, bin charges, and TV and telecoms bills.
The chief executive of the ILCU, Kieron Brennan, said the survey showed that for many people, “the challenge to simply survive continues”.
“I also think people need to think long and hard about Christmas this year and whether they can afford to get caught in the buying frenzy that begins in earnest after the Halloween break.
“Remember to shop around for the best value and only spend what you can afford. Sit down and work out a budget for the season before you start spending and stick to it.”
Borrowers more likely to try to pay credit union debt: Business and Innovation