If you’re feeling the pinch, you’re not alone. Relentless interest rate hikes and skyrocketing food, housing and utility prices have seen the average household living costs increase by up to 9.6 per cent this year alone.
Thankfully, there are five cost-saving changes you can make right now to help ease the financial pressure and take control of your finances. From reducing your energy bills to reviewing your loans and shopping around for better deals, these simple steps can make a huge difference to your bottom line – for the better.
1. Slash your grocery bills
The weekly food shop can leave a big dent in many families’ wallets. But there are plenty of opportunities to save. Start by planning your meals for the week based on what’s already in your fridge and pantry. You don’t need to be serving up Instagram-worthy meals every night – choose simple recipes that use just a few ingredients.
Browse catalogues to take advantage of specials and buy items that have a long shelf life in bulk. Shop seasonally for fruit and veg or buy frozen. Even better, if you have the space, try growing your own.
2. Switch providers
Too often, we stay with the same electricity, gas, mobile phone or internet provider out of convenience and loyalty, when we could be making savings by shopping around.
First, make a list of all the utilities and services you use and how much you’re paying. Note down everything that’s covered in your bill and your average usage requirements so you can compare like for like against other providers. Many will offer attractive perks or incentives for new customers.
Feeling time poor? A comparison service like iSelect can help you try to find a deal that better suits your needs and budget from its range of plans and providers. You just need a copy of your last bill, then you can do it yourself online via the website or chat on the phone to an iSelect consultant.
3. Reduce water and energy consumption
Like everything else, you’ve probably noticed that gas, electricity, and water costs are increasing. One way to reduce your bills is to cut your consumption, and there are lots of ways you can do this.
Try using appliances during off-peak times when they cost less to run, switch off lights as you leave a room or hang clothes outside to dry on sunny days. Turn off the heater or aircon and look to energy-efficient ways to control your home temperature, such as opening or closing doors, windows and blinds, wearing extra layers of clothing in winter or sealing any gaps around windows and doors.
Save water by capping showers at four minutes, and if you’re in the market for a new washing machine or dishwasher, choose one with a good energy or water star rating (the more stars, the more efficient).
4. Do an insurance audit
While it may seem counterintuitive to pay for insurance when money is tight, it may be a worthwhile expense for this very reason. From health insurance, to car insurance, home and contents, pet and travel, insurance safeguards you against potential financial stress should you have an accident, need important healthcare or if your home or belongings are stolen or damaged.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t question how much you’re paying for insurance. Each time you receive a renewal notice, have a close read of your policy to make sure you’re not paying for cover you don’t need – a classic example is pregnancy cover when you no longer need it.
And don’t be afraid to go elsewhere for a better deal. Like utility providers, insurance companies are keen for your business.
5. Relook at your home loan
Almost one-third of all mortgage holders are at risk of mortgage stress, says recent research from Roy Morgan. Much of this is due to the spate of interest rate hikes in recent years, which have seen families pouring up to 45 percent of their income into their home loans.
If this is you, your first port of call should be to your lender to request a home loan review. You may be eligible for discounts or new home loan features that weren’t available when you first took out the loan. You can also ask to adjust your payment frequency to reduce the amount of interest you’re paying. Paying fortnightly instead of monthly may help you pay down your loan faster.
Visit iSelect to explore more ways you could save on insurance, energy bills, home internet plans and more.
*iSelect does not compare all products in the market. The availability of products iSelect compare may change from time to time. Not all products made available from iSelect’s providers are compared by iSelect and due to commercial arrangements, area or availability, not all products compared by iSelect will be available to all customers. Some products and special offers may only be available from iSelect’s call centre or website. Click here to view iSelect’s range of Providers.