Figures from the European Central Bank show those with money on deposit here suffer the lowest interest rates in the euro zone. The average rate for fixed term savings across the single currency area is 0.42%. But in Ireland the rate is just 0.1% which, of course, is also subject to Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) at 39%.
Frank Conway, financial advisor and founder of Moneywhizz.org, said that it is interesting to note that Irish people are still actually putting money into banks to save at all. Mr Conway said a lot of people do not realise that there are other ways to grow their money. People do not grow their money by saving it - saving just protects it. If they want their money to grow, they have to invest it, he stated.
Mr Conway said the idea of investing may be difficult for some people as their investment history has been buying very limited stocks or by buying a property - which is itself high risk. He said that small amounts of money should be kept in savings, while large amounts should be invested over a long period of time. People's rainy day fund should be kept for three to six months' worth of savings, he added.
If consumers are able to invest wisely and keep their fees low, the stock market will achieve a lot of growth over time, the financial expert said. But he said that can be a challenge for most people in Ireland as they are not aware of how the system actually works. People's experience with shares on the stock market probably relates back to very limited companies, he added.
Mr Conway said that some people are starting to pay down debt as a form of saving. He said that if a person could change the term of their mortgage loan to 25 years from 35 years they could save €60,000 to €70,000. In recent years the Central Bank has been encouraging consumers to switch to better mortgage rates or pay down their mortgage faster - something which most banks allow.
MORNING BRIEFS - Irish builders merchant and DIY group Grafton, which generates the majority of its earnings in the UK, says it has benefited from favourable trading conditions so far this year. Revenue was up just under 8% to £851m over the four months to the end of April according to a statement released by Grafton ahead of its annual general meeting later this morning. In Ireland, where Grafton is the largest builders merchant and owns Woodies DIY, the company said it benefited from recovery in construction activity which it described as broad-based. Its like-for-like revenue here, excluding the impact of any new outlets opened during the year, was ahead by 13.6%.
*** Consumers appear mostly to have come to terms with uncertainty about Brexit. The latest KBC Bank/ESRI consumer sentiment index was virtually unchanged in April compared to March. Sentiment weakened considerably last year in the wake of Britain's vote to leave the EU before staging a recover. It has now levelled off. KBC's chief economist Austin Hughes said concerns about 'macro' issues such as Brexit and US President Donald Trump had eased. However only one in four consumers reported feeling an improvement in their household finances during April. Mr Hughes said this indicated the scope for any "feelgood driven pick-up in consumer spending" was limited.