How to understand the maths around your bills and save money

Analysis: deciphering the complex numbers around energy costs, mortgages and supermarket prices is key to making good financial decisions

The difficulties many people encounter when learning maths can lead to maths anxiety: negative emotions and behaviours associated with any encounter with mathematics or numbers generally. Educators speak of the maths anxiety cycle, where these negative states inhibit mathematical learning – and prevent individuals’ development of the very confidence and skills that would help them to overcome their anxieties.

But the importance of basic mathematical knowledge and skills is undeniable. We live in a mathematical world, and mathematical literacy – the ability to calculate, think and communicate effectively in mathematical situations – is needed to engage with and stake our place in that world.

A context of immediate relevance is the cost of living crisis. News on this topic invariably involves mathematical terms – the unwelcome percentage increases of fuel prices, interest rates and the rate of inflation. Understanding the numbers is key to making good financial decisions.

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From RTÉ Radio 1’s Drivetime, Dr. Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin from UCD talks about maths anxiety

In relation to energy costs, it is important to know where your euros are being spent. quotes an average household electricity bill of €2120 (from October 21st, 2022). Averages are much-loved by analysts, but sometimes have marginal relevance to individual consumers. Indeed, averages can be misleading: the average salary in a company…

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