Save Yourself

Olive McNiff of Davy

We get a grip on our finances and start taking the idea of a rainy day fund seriously…

We are living in slightly scary financial times. A quick glance through the newspapers and we’re thinking maybe life would be easier if we were one of those people wearing tinfoil hats taking none of it in. However, much as we’d like to take a duvet decade from all of life’s ills and ignore those bank statements, we’ve got to grow up and face the mournful music. Last March, Taryn Trainor of Unite trade union noted employment for young women had actually fallen during this so-called recovery. Nearly 1-in-10 women are underemployed, with many only able to secure part-time work while others are unable to secure enough part-time hours to live sustainably on.

Standard Life and Connect Women in Pensions Group released a study that found women’s ambitions for their pensions were not aligning with the reality of their savings. The average woman is striving for a nest egg of €45,000 per annum, but is actually only saving enough for a pension of €2,000 a year, €45,000 overall. A small state pension of around €12,000 a year is provided but seems to be continuously threatened under never-ending austerity measures.

All this adds up to one undeniable fact – women need to start saving more and get way more serious about it. We caught up with Olive McNiff of Davy to help us get serious about the impending future.

Your twenties are a maelstrom of rent, overdrafts and trying to afford Electric Picnic tickets. At what age should one start thinking about saving?
It’s never too early to start thinking about saving as it gives you a good discipline about managing your spending. Such an approach affords you the opportunity to plan for the future and enables you to make provisions for unexpected expenses. If you’re struggling with managing your cashflow then you should have a basic monthly budget plan. There are plenty of budget planning tools online like or if you have a gmail account there is a google docs ‘budget/financial planning’ tool that’s really useful.

Clearing off debt or starting to save – which deserves higher priority?
You have to do both, however at a minimum you should maintain monthly repayments on any debt, as your history of repayments will be referred to by financial institutions if you ever want a loan in the future. If you have any additional cash, look to pay off higher interest debt such as overdrafts, credit cards and shorter term loans.

What are the best options – bank, credit union?
For shorter term deposits there is no significant difference between Banks or Credit Unions. Banks offer better access to cash e.g. ATM cards, however in some cases Credit Unions may offer better access to loans for their members.

For particularly low-earners and people struggling, where can they start to make a difference?
The difficult decision to make is to either cut expenditure on discretionary spending, for example a monthly subscription to satellite TV. Alternatively, you may have the opportunity to increase you income by working longer hours for example. Neither option is easy or particularly attractive.

How safe are savings?
Cash deposits are secured up to €100,000 under the Irish Deposit Guarantee Scheme and other investments are guaranteed up to €20,000 under the Investor Compensation Scheme. It’s always important to ensure your savings and investments are held with a reputable institution that will safeguard your assets.

Olive McNiff is a Portfolio Manager in Davy Private Clients. The opinions and answers to these questions are those of the individual and not Davy.

Jeanne Sutton @jeannedesutun

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