Tips to pocket some savings
With the rising cost of living thanks to higher fuel and commodities costs, mortgage repayments and more, there are numerous ways you can soften the financial hit.
Shoppers continue to feel the pinch at the supermarket checkout, and by planning your purchases with a shopping list, you might be able to lessen the financial pain.
New data from comparison website Compare the Market 1 shows that 12% of Aussies are trying to save by shopping at cheaper stores, and 8% are buying in bulk to save long term. Also, some shoppers are nabbing discounts on baked goods, hot chickens, and meat closer to closing time and taking advantage of supermarket reward programs that allow them to exchange points for discounts on their shop.
Regardless of where or how you shop, be sure to compare unit prices to see which items are cheaper. For example, XYZ peanut butter might be $0.70 per 100 grams compared to ABC, which is $1.41 per 100 grams. Online grocery shopping often makes this process easier by displaying the unit price per item and letting you sort by that.
Another great way to reduce your supermarket spend is by committing to using a shopping list. This way you can avoid having a stockpile of the same ingredients because you can’t remember if you’ve run out or not. And by meal planning, you only buy what you need so if a recipe calls for 1 capsicum, buy that instead of a whole packet and letting the un-used ones spoil in your fridge drawer.
So, shop with a list, but also be sure to stick to it. Some consumers use a whiteboard or write a list to record items that have run out – or are about to - and need to be purchased. Then they simply take a photo of it and head off to the supermarket.
Another way to use lists to keep tabs on your grocery spend is by shopping online. By shopping online with the likes of Coles and Woolworths, you can review your cart before paying to ensure you keep the total spend within your shopping budget, plus you can sort by what’s on special including the unit price of items (e.g. the cost per 100grams)
2. Compare your service providers for a better deal
We’ve all heard the ‘shop around’ advice before, however it can be tricky to know you’re getting the best deal when many comparison websites may only display providers who are advertising with them.
Some people may not be aware that the Government provide a number of free comparison sites to help people compare the cost of electricity, gas and even health insurance.
For example, Energy Made Easy is an Australian Government energy price comparison service for households and small businesses where you can find and compare all the electricity and gas plans of all retailers.
All Australian Health Insurers are required by Law to provide details of their products to the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman. At privatehealth.gov.au you can enter your current policy number if you have it and/or some basic details about the kind of cover you require to find the most suitable policies for you.
Both services are un-biased and there’s no advertising or kick-backs involved so you can rest assured you’re dealing with the cold hard facts.
And for other service providers? In business and life, there's a saying that "you don't get what you deserve - you get what you can negotiate".
The bottom line is that every consumer's responsibility is to ensure they get the best deal possible, whether it's home and contents insurance or the cable television connection.
Start by listing all the utilities and services you use and what you're currently paying. Then note down precisely what you are getting for your money, so it's easy to compare apples with apples when researching the market.
Also, some companies might offer their best deals to new customers, leaving their long-time clients paying a 'loyalty tax'. If you've been loyal to your current supplier for years, you'll probably save money by switching however it’s always a good idea to negotiate with your existing provider first. Knowing what's on offer elsewhere can improve your ability to negotiate a better deal if you're keen to stay with your existing supplier.
Comparison websites make looking for better deals easier. You can compare offers on insurance, credit cards, home loans, car loans, utilities and more. Knowing what's out there will give you more confidence to negotiate a better deal with your current supplier. A few comparison sites to try are Canstar, Finder, iSelect, Compare the Market and Choosi.
That said, it’s not the website you need to negotiate with – so be ready to contact your supplier to discuss the information you've gathered. You've done your legwork and are familiar with what's out there, so take a casual and pleasant approach during your call. That said, stand firm when you're asking for a better deal – it's usually in your service provider's best interests to give you an improved deal to retain you as a customer. But if they don’t, be prepared to move on to greener pastures to save money.
3. Save money at the petrol bowser
In a year where petrol prices have rapidly pumped big money out of our hip pockets, there are several ways to beat the bowser. Fuel price apps, for example, can help you find the cheapest petrol anywhere in Australia, so you don’t get overcharged on fuel – and you can use most of the apps free of charge.
Some apps are run by state and territory governments, while others depend on motorists submitting data during the day. These apps include PetrolSpy Australia, Fuel Map Australia, Motormouth, and state-based apps such as FuelCheck (NSW), Fair Fuel (Queensland) and FuelWatch (WA). They all advertise mostly accurate, up-to-date prices and show the lowest price and what times of day are cheaper.
You can also monitor the ACCC’s ii website to stay abreast of the petrol price cycles in Australia’s major cities.
4. Tis the season to be saving
The silly season picks up from Melbourne Cup day onwards and can make a massive dent in our savings. Some people turn to credit cards or buy now pay later platforms such as Afterpay to fuel their festive spending, while others plunder their savings. Either way, it can leave you feeling broke when the New Year rolls around. So, what can you do about it?
Before you start dreaming up all the fantastic things you could buy for Christmas, it’s better to draw up a Christmas budget that you can stick to no matter what. As part of your yuletide budgeting, consider how much cash you can spare for family and friends and what you can spend on each person. Once you have a budget, you can look at practical gift ideas in those price ranges.
One way to stay on budget is by shopping at the many retail sales – retailers have the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales coming up in late November. By utilising lay-by and the big sales deals, you can purchase Christmas gifts at a generous discount.
You’ll love this fantastic price comparison tool if you’re a bargain hunter. Price Hipster is an extensive search engine where thrifty shoppers can compare prices across products and stores. If you’re a truly dedicated saver, you can sign up for email price alerts and daily deals as Christmas approaches.
A clever way to boost your Christmas savings is to set aside an amount you won’t miss and start saving early. It’s the perfect way to ensure you don’t plunge into your savings before Christmas.
5. Your loyalty savings
If used sensibly, store loyalty and rewards programs can be a great way to save money on purchases.
Moreover, when it comes to lowering our cost of living, whether you’re earning points in exchange for gift vouchers, flights, or receiving exclusive offers and discounts, every little bit counts.
However, there’s a catch, and you must be savvy about using rewards programs. One of the primary purposes of a loyalty program is to encourage us to spend more money, whether it’s coffee or groceries – think here about Coles Flybuys program and Woolworths’ Everyday Rewards. However, your goal is to save money. So, it would be best if you were careful that the rewards work for you and do not cost you.
For more information – or for more savings tips, just speak to an Easy Street team member or call us on 1300 13 14 65.
Last updated: 21 July 2023
The information contained in this article is only correct at the point of time of publication. It is general information and has been prepared without taking into account your personal circumstances, objectives or needs. Please consider if this information is right for you before making a decision to acquire any product.