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How to manage on a limited income - part two

written by Rachel_McDonald
20.07.09 Posted in Smart living 0 0

Surviving on social welfare was not a burning issue for most Irish people over the last 10 years - until now that is.....

Turns out life is a bench after allTurns out life is a bench after all

2. Structured budget: Make out a budget on your weekly income and outgoings. Visit for an excellent easy guide to draw up a budget. It supplies printable personal budget sheets to make it easier to include all your expenses, as well as a spending diary. It is basically a structured plan to make your way out of financial chaos and manage huge income drops.  

3. Keep to the plan, don't make promises to creditors that you can't keep. Show them this budgetary plan to demonstrate that you have a plan and will be able to pay them in six to 12 months. 

4. Communicate with your creditors by letter. It's less intimidating and also legal evidence that you are being proactive and doing your best to manage the situation. 

5. Health is wealth: "We see a lot of people ill with money worries because their self-esteem is tied up with money and their ability to provide for their families but ultimately the greatest asset you have is your health," says Culloty. 

With Ireland facing deflation for the first time since 1960, your social welfare payments may stretch that bit further unless, as many fear, the Government cuts social welfare or ups taxes and charges in today's budget. Still, the price drops are quite hefty. The cost of fuels went down by 7% in January and clothing took a 13% hit in the January sales. Mortgage interest rates have also dropped. But prices remain higher in Dublin region.  

While it's difficult to gauge individual social welfare incomes and spending, we've looked at some social welfare income models for three different types of people and estimated how much may be taken up by the essentials. 

The Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice in Ireland examined a minimum essential budget for six households across Dublin over a week. Here are three examples. 

  • A two-parent household with two children under 10 would need €435.22 to maintain a minimum standard of living with food at €102.89. The partnership estimates that the social welfare income for this family including back to school clothing and footwear allowance, an early childcare supplement, a medical card and local authority rent of €45 would be €482. 
  • A single male would need a weekly income of €251.84 with food at €72.17. The partnership estimates that if he was eligible for rent allowance and a medical card, his weekly income would amount to €314.80 
  • A pensioner couple would need a weekly income of €330.40 for basic living standards with food at €81.05. The partnership estimates that their weekly income, including free travel, medical card, TV licence, fuel allowances, electrical allowances and telephone allowance, would amount to €452 with a local authority rent of €54. 

Further information and support

Social welfare: Tel: 1890202325

Money, Advice and Budgeting Service (Mabs) has 60 offices nationwide, runs a helpline, weekdays, 9am-8pm: tel 1890283438;

St Vincent de Paul has regional offices around the country. National office: tel: 01-8387355;

Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice. Tel: 01-8780425;

Rachel McDonald



Rachel McDonald lives in Dublin and, when not working, enjoys travelling, dancing and dabbling in the never-ending project of revamping her home. She counts herself lucky to have a tolerant housemate...

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