Irish Households’ savings at record levels

Irish households saved more than 4 times the average amount during the first quarter of 2021, according to a recent study by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The CSO reports that Irish households saved more than €10 billion during the first three months of 2021.

This massive increase in savings was undoubtedly related to Covid-19 and it’s corresponding economic restrictions. Due to businesses being closed because of lockdowns, government unemployment benefits, or some combination of the two, incomes either held steady or increased, while spending was dramatically decreased. The CSO also reported that uncertainty about the pandemic and how long the lockdowns would last may have forced many Irish citizens to build up an increased amount of precautionary savings, in case money became tight in the future.

When looking at the numbers, it is no surprise that savings grew dramatically when compared to the first quarter of 2020. Compared to the first three months of last year, Government subsidies increased by €1.1 billion, and social protection payments rose by an even larger margin of €2.7 billion.

While the Pandemic Unemployment …

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Central Bank accused of unjust regulations on credit unions

Credit union chief executives have recently criticized the Central Bank’s regulations on the sector, calling them “excessive and unjustified”. After conducting research, a group of CEOs from credit unions across Ireland, chaired by Queen’s University Belfast professor Donal McKillop, have claimed that under the Central Bank’s current regulations, Irish credit unions are forced to set aside unjustifiably high levels of their capital into reserves, much higher than that of Irish and European banks.

Under the Central Bank’s current rules, credit unions must set aside a minimum of 10 percent of their total assets in reserves. This means that when a credit union member saves €100 with a credit union, the credit union must then put €10 in its reserves, if a member saves €1000, the credit union must put €100 in reserves, and so on. In its research paper, the Credit Union CEO Forum deemed these rates “excessive” and many credit unions have put limits on amount of savings they will accept from members, with some capping savings at just €10,000.

The CEO Forum’s paper states that these reserve capital …

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Cryptocurrency: Market trend or the future of Finance?

Over the past year you have probably heard a lot of buzz surrounding the world of cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is essentially a form of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Cryptocurrencies operate using a technology called blockchain, which is a decentralized form of recording and managing transactions that is spread across many computers. One of the main advantages of using blockchain to manage cryptocurrency transactions is to increase security of these transactions. Cryptocurrencies are also increasingly being used as a speculative investment in addition to purchasing goods and services. While over 10,000 cryptocurrencies are traded publicly, the most valuable and most famous is Bitcoin. Bitcoin first rose to prominence in December 2017 when its value skyrocketed to almost $20,000, before falling down to $3200 just a year later. This extreme price volatility among bitcoin and other cryptocurrency has prompted debate among investors and analysts over whether bitcoin is a legitimate currency and the future of finance as we know it, or just another speculative investment.

Critics of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies point to its volatility and extreme …

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Should you go to a broker or a bank?

First of all, a broker works with numerous banks or other lending organizations and can locate the best prices and conditions for you. Consider a broker as the intermediary between you and possible lenders and banking companies. A bank is, of course, an institution-specific direct lender. Many householders are looking for the best rates for loans. From 8 to 30 years, you’ll be stuck with your mortgage. Therefore you want a monthly payment that’s convenient to you.There are a few benefits to utilizing a mortgage broker, such as access to an extensive range of lenders; because brokers have access to a large number of direct lenders, they can shop and match your circumstances. They are like a personal tour guide who selects the finest airlines, hotels, and car rental businesses to get the most incredible bargain for you. You have your back, and they’re going to work together to make it work. A broker also saves you long-term time. As only one application must be submitted in full instead of only one application for each bank or lender alone, …

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El Salvador Becomes First Country to make Bitcoin Legal Currency

El Salvador has become the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender. Officials in the Salvadoran congress voted in a “supermajority” of 62 out of 84 votes. This fulfills president Nayib Bukele’s promise to make bitcoin legal tender alongside the US dollar. 

 

“The purpose of this law is to regulate bitcoin as unrestricted legal tender with liberating power, unlimited in any transaction, and to any title that public or private natural or legal persons require carrying out,” the law reads. Furthermore, the law enables prices to be shown in bitcoin. Taxes can now be paid in bitcoin, and exchanges in bitcoin are exempt from capital gains tax. The government will also be partnering with digital wallet firm Strike to provide an easy and simple to use financial framework based around the cryptocurrency. Jack Mallers, founder of strike, claims that adopting bitcoin could help countries like El Salvador avoid some of the pitfalls of traditional fiat currency, such as excessive hyperinflation, that developing economies are sometimes prone to. 

 

This decision is unprecedented, as no country has yet …

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5 Negotiating tips to make sure you get the best house price

When buying a home, you can expect to negotiate with the seller or estate agent for a better price. In fact, many homes end up selling below the asking price, since most sellers ask for slightly more than market value to account for negotiations. Your ability to negotiate could have a huge impact on whether or not you pay the best possible price for your property. Here are some tips to help prepare you for this part of the home buying process.

1. Don’t be afraid to negotiate

While asking for a better deal may seem awkward at first, it is completely normal to haggle for a house price. The reality is that haggling and negotiating happens regularly in the real estate business, and many homes sell below asking price every day. Most sales people are not offended by you asking for a better price, and it is often quite the opposite, as this signals your interest in buying the property. However, it is crucial to ask politely and avoid any hostility and confrontation during negotiation.

2. Research the local …

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Costs you Should be Aware of before Buying a House

There are more costs associated with buying your first home than just the 10% deposit. There are many additional fees, duties and taxes that you should be aware of before buying your home. 

 

The first fee you should be aware of is the stamp duty. The stamp duty is not included in your mortgage, so it’s a good idea to save this fee up in addition to your 10% deposit. The stamp duty is calculated at 1% of the selling price on a home or residential property of up to €1m, and 2% of the selling price on homes and residential properties above €1m. This stamp duty may change however, and full details are available on the Revenue.ie website. 

Legal fees are another hidden cost of buying a home that you should look out for. There are a lot of legal aspects that have to be accounted for when officially transferring ownership of the property to you, so you should find a trusted real estate lawyer to take care of this transfer. Legal fees will vary depending on …

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5 Tips to Protect Yourself from Cyber Crime

Cyber Criminals have many ways to access and steal your financial information online. In the past year, this threat has only increased due to the covid-19 pandemic and its effects, namely the increased amount of online banking and transactions. As fintech continues to make more and more advancements and we move closer to a true ‘cashless society’, making sure your personal finances are secure will be more important than ever. Whether it’s strengthening your passwords or using antivirus protection, there are many steps you can take to make sure your personal information and assets are safe and secure. Here are 5 easy tips to get you started. 

 

Protect Your Passwords!

You’ve probably heard that having a strong password is essential to your online security, and this couldn’t be more true. Use passwords of more than eight characters, containing both upper and lowercase letters as well as special characters. Avoid using the same password on multiple websites. If you do, a hacker could compromise all of your accounts with one lucky guess. For additional security, you can also consider using …

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4 Easy Ways to Improve your Financial Literacy

Financial literacy is one of the most important and underrated skills that anyone can have. Understanding basic financial concepts such as mortgages, inflation, and interest rates is critical for financial success. Once you unlock this knowledge, you will be better equipped to effectively manage, save, and invest money for you and your family. This knowledge, combined with other good financial habits, is the key to financial well being and freedom later on in life. While everyone has varying degrees of financial literacy, there is an overwhelming amount of resources available to expand your knowledge on financial topics.

 

Read Personal Finance Books

If you enjoy reading, there is no shortage of finance books that cover a broad variety of topics, from eliminating debt to saving for retirement. One book recommended by Forbes magazine that covers the latter is Rewirement: Rewiring The Way You Think About Retirement!, by Jaime Hopkins. This book tackles common misconceptions and bad habits that prevent people from having flexible and successful retirement plans. For a variety of books on many topics, check out Insider’s …

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Mortgage Broker vs. Bank: What’s the Difference?

Buying a house is one of the most important decisions of your life, which is why you need to make sure you pick the right lender when applying for a mortgage. However, there are many different types of lenders, each offering different products and rates for your mortgage, so it can get overwhelming. 

 

The first type of mortgage lender is a Direct Lender. A direct lender is a financial institution that originates, processes, and funds the loan all by itself. In other words, the company you work with is the one loaning you the money. Direct Lenders include big banks like Bank of Ireland, credit unions, and specialized financial companies that deal primarily with home loans and mortgages. An example of a specialized mortgage company like this is Quicken. 

 

The second type of mortgage lender is a Mortgage Broker. A broker is the “middleman” that helps you find the best possible rate for your home loan. Brokers work with multiple mortgage companies and compare rates to find the best lender for your specific situation. 

 

Now that …

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