Kicking off on RTÉ One tonight at 8.30pm My Money and Me sees Kathriona and Sinead help people across the country with their money issues – looking at how they are spending and finding ways to avoid common pitfalls.

We had lots of money, moolah, wonga, cash queries to put to Kathriona who kindly took some time to talk to RTÉ LifeStyle about everything from bills to negative equity to saving without (too much) sacrifice.

Just like the couple (Lorna and Keith from Artane, parents to Ryan and Faye) in your first episode tonight, many of our readers are in negative equity – what advice do you have for those who are continually feeling like their backs are against the wall? 

I am also in negative equity so I understand how frustrating it is especially if you feel there isn't much at the end of the month to play around with. Our new series shows that making small savings in a few areas can add up. 

Switching utility providers if you have been with the same company for a while could save you 10-15% on your bills. That doesn't sound much but if you add up how much you spend in a year on electricity, heating, phone, internet etc. and work out 15% of that total that you might be motivated to switch. There are good comparison and switching sites like and that help make changing companies painless.

Credit card debt is a big drain on finances. Look at getting a low interest loan from the credit union to clear your credit card debt. You'll be paying a far lower rate of interest so will clear the bill quicker. 

If people can find the time to review their finances and look at the bank statements and actually add up where there money is going on food, clothes, nights out etc. they can they budget roughly for the year. It takes a bit of effort initially but it's worth in the long run.

What are the biggest wasters of money and the easiest way to save?
It's not that eating out is a big waste of money - if you like it and can afford it then that's fine. But coffees and lunches do add up quickly and if you want to save for something in particular such as a family holiday then making small changes like bringing you lunch to work three days a week instead of five could add up substantially. 

For instance if two working parents each spend a conservative €7.50 between lunch and coffees every day and brought their lunch to work three days a week instead they'd save themselves just over €2,000 in a year.

That's a good chunk towards a family holiday for an extra five minutes of slapping a sandwich together. 

People don't seem to actually do the sums to see how something might be affordable if they adjust some aspect of their spending. 

The buying ahead in the sales (clothes-wise) for your kids is something many of us do - is that bad?It's always a good idea to buy clothes during sales times. The problem is if you think you're not really spending any money because you're getting 50% off. You're still handing over money! The average Irish family spends about €550 on kids clothes per child. Set yourself an annual budget and keep an eye on it over the year. 

Which is more important for Irish shoppers: Value for money or buying Irish?
Value for money.

Name three things that people will learn from watching the programmes?

  1. Unconscious spending adds up quickly. Set yourself weekly or monthly budgets for your groceries and incidentals – especially if you find yourself running out of money half way through the week.
  2. Bank fees add up. Keep on top of your bank statements. Know where your money is going by keeping an eye on your bank account either through online banking or your statements. 
  3. Set saving goals. Give your savings account a name - like 'Family Holiday'. If you do manage to save €45 a week by bringing your lunch to work put that money straight into your savings account. It is good motivation to see that money increase and if you don't lock it away you might spend it on something else! 

What was your best value purchase? What was your biggest splurge!
My best value purchase was probably my wedding dress. It was vintage and needed a lot of altering. I think it cost about €200 but once a dressmaker worked her magic it was my dream dress. 

My house was unfortunately my biggest splurge. Like a lot of people I paid silly money for a tiny two bed cottage in 2005.

Now that we're out of recession - do you think that people will begin to splurge again as per the boom I hope not! 

My Money and Me, tonight (Wednesday May 11) at 8.30pm on RTÉ One and if you miss it watch it on the RTÉ Player.