Family budgets across the country are being stretched to their limits as the cost of living increases, but there are still ways to save a ton of money.
It’s no secret that many households are struggling as inflation skyrockets as interest rates continue to rise.
This week the Reserve Bank announced a bomb super-sized rate hike of 50 basis points, pushing the official cash rate to 0.85 percent in a desperate attempt to contain inflation.
We have seen prices for everyday necessities such as fuel, groceries and power explode in recent months due to a perfect storm of conditions including the war in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions from Covid, staff shortages and increased demand.
Meanwhile, Aussies struggle to pay the bills, with research by comparison site Finder showing that 35 percent of us are most concerned about rent and mortgage payments, while 31 percent are concerned about grocery costs and 26 percent are stressed by gasoline prices.
Finder research also revealed in May that the average Australian spends $164 a week on groceries for their household, up from $152 in March, while gasoline prices across the country rose 64 percent between 2016 and 2022, according to the Finder. analysis of Consumer Price Index data.
That is significantly higher than headline inflation and wage inflation over the same period.
NAB research has also found that one in four Australians have recently cut back on food delivery services and entertainment amid rising costs of living, with one in two switching to cheaper brands or actively looking for cheaper products, while about four in every ten have cut back or stopped buying micro-treats such as coffee, snacks and lunch, and about three in 10 canceled or postponed a major household purchase such as a TV, refrigerator or washing machine.
But the good news is that there are many other easy ways to cut corners and save yourself hundreds.
At the moment, fuel prices only seem to continue to rise, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine causing serious pain in the bow.
Gasoline at some stations in Brisbane was even priced at $2.24 a liter this week, with prices rising all week to $2.26 a liter in Sydney, $2.25 a liter in Melbourne and $2.24 a liter in Australia. Adelaide.
But there’s a silver lining to NSW motorists via the NSW government’s popular FuelCheck app, which helps drivers find the cheapest fuel at the pump.
New figures reveal that there have been two million downloads, and Victor Dominello, NSW’s Customer Service and Digital Government Secretary, said using the technology regularly could save motorists more than $800 a year.
“With the long weekend just around the corner, now is the perfect time to download and save FuelCheck,” said Mr. Dominello.
“It’s free, easy to use and gives you real-time fuel price information wherever you are in the state.”
There are similar apps and tools in other states and territories, as well as the My NRMA app.
Joel Gibson, the campaign manager at A big switchtold news.com.au that in Sydney and Brisbane today some petrol stations had risen while others have yet to raise prices, so using fuel apps to track down the right one could save motorists up to 40 cents a litre.
“Sometimes you can get 3-5 percent off gift cards at Woolworths or Ampol, which you can then combine with your store receipt discount to get about 10-14c/L of fuel,” he said.
“If you can live without your car or if you have two and only need one, it’s a good time to sell with used car prices up about 30 percent.”
Mr Gibson said now is not the time to just toss items into your grocery cart.
“Check prices as we are seeing temporary spikes in things like lettuce from the floods,” he said.
“Use unit prices to compare value and replace big brands with private labels.
“Ideally, shop at more than one supermarket and pick the eyes from the 50 percent off specials and cheapest prices.”
Graham Cooke, head of consumer research at Finder, agreed that it was certainly possible to save money on groceries.
“By doing a few simple swaps, you can shave a decent amount off your weekly store,” he said.
“Frozen vegetables can be a cheaper alternative to fresh vegetables and you don’t have to worry about losing them.
“Canned foods like beans and tomatoes are a great addition to soups and stews, as are grains like barley and rice. Depending on your supermarket and what you buy, it may also be cheaper to buy in bulk and restock your pantry.”
He also recommended using supermarket comparison apps like Frugl to compare the cost of products between supermarkets.
And when it comes to power bills, Mr. Gibson said it pays to switch.
“Get a cheap fixed-rate plan now if you can — there are still some, though they’re disappearing by the day,” he said.
“Otherwise, just choose a cheap variable rate plan and be prepared to switch again within six months if you have to. Once all retailers have announced their new prices for July 1, you can see how your subscription compares.
“Make sure you’ve claimed every discount and concession available to you through state and federal governments — start your search at energy.gov.au.”
Mr Cooke said now is the time to act.
“Call your current energy supplier and ask if they are going to increase their rates – some people may have already received emails. You should also ask if you can switch to a cheaper subscription,” he advised.
“The next step is to compare energy plans and possibly sign up for a fixed rate plan that fixes the rates for 12 months. This means that when the July 1 electricity reset goes into effect, you will likely be spared.
“These plans are disappearing quickly, so you have to be quick.”
Mr Cooke said most of us couldn’t afford to sit back and do nothing when it came to mortgages.
“Mortgage interest rates have changed a lot in recent years and are generally much lower than they were a few years ago. If it’s been a while since you’ve looked at your mortgage, you might find that you’re paying more than you need to,” he said.
“Refinancing your home loan can save you thousands of dollars.
“Many experts expect mortgage rates to rise again later this year, so if you hold on to a lower interest rate now, you could be successful if inflation rises.”
General Money Tips
When it comes to money saving tips, many of us often overlook the basics, but Mr Cooke said budgeting was key.
“Knowing where your money is coming from and where it’s going is the first step to getting your finances in order,” he said.
“Calculate how much the essential things like bills and groceries cost you and how much you spend on ‘fun’ things like eating out and traveling.
“There are plenty of budgeting apps like the Finder app that let you see all your money in one place. Once you have a rough idea of your spending habits, you can figure out where there is room to cut.”
And if you’re lucky enough to have some cash to spare, Mr. Cooke said you should consider investing.
“Savings accounts are the safest way to keep your money, but low savings rates make it nearly impossible to earn interest on your money,” he said.
“Consider switching to a bonus savings account, which pays out extra interest if you meet certain criteria.”
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