Get a handle on your mortgage or rent
A strong demand for housing and rising interest rates has seen property prices soar across the country, with Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Sydney seeing the highest growth. This has had a knock-on effect on mortgage repayments and rental prices, which equate to a large portion of many family incomes.
If you’re feeling the pinch, relook at your spending to see if there are expenses you can cut out. Gym memberships, streaming services, food delivery services, holidays and takeaway are all “nice to haves” but not necessities. Putting these types of expenses on hold for a few months will help free up some cash for more essential costs.
If you’re a mortgage holder, you can call your lender to request a home loan review. You may be eligible for a discounted interest rate, or can opt to adjust your payment frequency to reduce the amount of interest you’re paying or lock in a portion of your loan at a fixed rate to avoid future interest rate rises.
Renters can request a payment plan in times of financial difficulty or try negotiating for a reduction in rent in exchange for a longer lease or undertaking basic repairs themselves. If you’re hit with an unexpected rent increase, you can dispute it with your rental agent or your state’s rental tribunal.
Slash your energy bills
Electricity rates surged by 15 per cent over the 12 months up to July this year, with many households seeing a significant increase in their bills. With these rates expected to stay as is for the current financial year, some state governments have introduced rebates to help ease the pain.
The one positive in this situation is that we, the customer, generally get to choose who supplies our gas and electricity (for those who live in South East Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT). While it could be a good idea to call your existing provider to see if they can improve on your current rate, a comparison site like iSelect can help you compare your current plan/rate against its range of other leading energy providers and plans to see if you can switch and save money. Some retailers may also offer perks and incentives for new customers, so consider taking advantage of any on offer but be aware that some of these deals may expire after a year or two.
There are also plenty of ways to reduce your energy consumption, from using appliances in off-peak periods, to adjusting air-conditioning temperature settings (just one degree up or down can use around 10 per cent less energy) or hanging clothes outside to dry instead of running the dryer.
And remember, if you receive your energy bill and don’t have the money to pay it in full, you can call your provider’s hardship team to ask for an extension or set up a payment plan.
Cut back on your grocery spend
According to recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, food costs have increased by 7.5 per cent in the last year. Dairy prices rose by 15.2 per cent, while bread and cereal prices grew by 11.2 per cent.
With some forward planning and savvy bargain hunting, you can shop smarter to keep costs down. Start by writing a meal plan for the week, planning around ingredients you already have in your fridge and pantry. Use catalogues to write your shopping list based on what’s on special and buy things in bulk.
Buy fruit and veg when it’s in season or try frozen, and aim for a few meat-free meals each week.
Reconfigure your insurance
Insurance premiums are also on the rise, especially in the areas of home and contents and motor vehicles, with parts and repair costs, labour shortages and greater frequency of natural disasters all playing a part.
Try opting for a higher excess for a reduced premium, paying annually rather than monthly or quarterly, and removing cover for under-25 drivers on your car insurance.
And don't be afraid to shop around. The cheapest policy this year may not be the cheapest next year, so each time a renewal lands in your inbox, do your homework before letting it automatically roll over. Insurance companies are keen for new customers, and comparison sites like iSelect can collate options for you, from its range of insurers and plans.*
Reduce child-related expenses
Raising kids is expensive! There are the essential needs of feeding, clothing and providing a roof over their heads, not to mention education. Recent figures reveal that even a public school education can cost up to $100,000 per child when mandatory fees, devices, uniforms, camps and tutoring are taken into account.
Reduce school-related expenses by buying uniforms and books second hand, stocking up on stationery when it’s on sale and labelling everything – less items lost means less items to replace.
Look for free events and activities to do with the kids, such as trips to the park or library, bike rides and bushwalks, picnics and swims at the beach. And check if you qualify for government assistance for a range of services, such as childcare, medical costs, dental and more.
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