Family budgets across the country are stretched to the limit as cost of living pressures weigh down – but there are still ways to save a bucket load.
It’s no secret that many households are struggling as inflation soars while interest rates continue to rise.
This week, the Reserve Bank announced a huge 50 basis point rate hike, bringing the official exchange rate to 0.85%, in a desperate attempt to contain heartbreaking inflation.
We’ve seen the prices of basic necessities like fuel, groceries and electricity skyrocket in recent months due to a perfect storm of conditions, including the war in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions. supply, staff shortages and increased demand.
Meanwhile, Australians are struggling to pay the bills, with search by comparison site Finder revealing that 35% of us are most concerned about rent and mortgage payments, while 31% are concerned about the cost of groceries and 26% are stressed about gas prices.
A Finder study also found in May that the average Australian spends $164 a week on groceries for their household, up from $152 in March, while petrol prices rose 64% nationwide. countries between 2016 and 2022, according to Consumer Price Finder analysis. Index data.
This is considerably higher than headline inflation and wage inflation over the same period.
NAB research also found that one in four Australians have recently cut spending on food delivery and entertainment services amid rising cost of living pressures, with one in two switching to cheaper brands or seeking actively cheaper products, while about four in 10 have reduced backed off or stopped buying micro-treats such as coffees, snacks and lunches, and about three in 10 have canceled or delayed a major household purchase such as a television, refrigerator or washing machine.
But the good news is that there are plenty of other easy ways to cut your expenses and save hundreds of dollars.
Fuel prices seem to be continuing to climb at the moment, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine causing serious bower pains.
In fact, petrol at some Brisbane filling stations is costing up to $2.24 a liter this week, with prices reaching $2.26 a liter in Sydney, $2.25 a liter in Melbourne and $2. $24 a liter in Adelaide all week.
But there’s a silver lining for NSW motorists via the NSW government’s popular FuelCheck app, which helps drivers find the cheapest fuel at the pump.
New figures reveal there have been two million downloads, and NSW Customer Service and Digital Government Minister Victor Dominello has said regular use of the technology could save motorists more than $800 per year.
“With the long weekend fast approaching, now is the perfect time to download FuelCheck and save,” Dominello said.
“It’s free, easy to use, and gives you real-time gas price information from anywhere in the state.”
There are also similar apps and tools in other states and territories, as well as the My NRMA app.
Joel Gibson, the campaign manager of A big switchtold news.com.au that in Sydney and Brisbane today some petrol stations had climbed while others had yet to raise prices so the use of fuel apps to find the right one could save motorists up to 40 cents per litre.
“Sometimes you can get 3-5% off gift cards with Woolworths or Ampol, which you can then combine with your buyer’s record discount to get around 10-14c/L of fuel,” said he declared.
“If you can live without your car or have two and only need one, now is a good time to sell with used car prices up around 30%. “
Mr Gibson said now is not the time to just throw items into your supermarket trolley.
“Check prices as we are seeing temporary spikes in things like lettuce due to flooding,” he said.
“Use unit price to compare value and substitute name brands for house brands.
“Ideally shop in more than one supermarket and draw attention to 50% promotions and the cheapest prices.”
Graham Cooke, head of consumer research at Finder, agreed it’s definitely possible to save money on groceries.
“Making a few simple swaps can significantly reduce your weekly store,” he said.
“Frozen vegetables can be a cheaper alternative to fresh vegetables and you won’t have to worry about them going to waste.
“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 stock your pantry.
He also recommended using grocery comparison apps like Frugl to compare the cost of products between supermarkets.
And when it comes to electricity bills, Mr Gibson said it pays to switch.
“Get a cheap fixed rate plan now if you can – there are still some out there, even though they are disappearing day by day,” he said.
“Otherwise, just pick a cheap variable rate plan and be prepared to switch again if you have to within the next six months. Once all retailers announce their new prices by July 1, you can see how your plan compares.
“Make sure you’ve claimed all rebates and concessions available to you from 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 find out if they will raise their rates – some people may have already received emails. You should also ask if you can upgrade to a cheaper plan,” he advised.
“The next step is to start comparing energy plans and possibly sign up for a flat rate plan that will lock in rates for 12 months. This means that when the July 1 electricity reset takes effect, you will likely be saving.
“These blueprints disappear quickly, so you’ll have to be quick.”
Mr Cooke said most of us cannot afford to sit around and do nothing about mortgages.
“Mortgage interest rates have changed a lot over the past few years and are generally much lower than they were a few years ago. If it’s been a while since you looked at your mortgage, you may find that you’re paying more than necessary,” he said.
“Refinancing your home loan can save you thousands of dollars.
“Many experts expect mortgage rates to start climbing again later this year, so locking in a lower rate now could set you up for success as inflation rises.”
General Money Advice
When it comes to money-saving tips, many of us often overlook the basics – but Mr Cooke said preparing a budget was key.
“Knowing where your money comes from and where it goes is the first step to getting your finances under control,” he said.
“Find out how much essentials like bills and groceries are costing you and how much you’re spending on ‘fun’ things like eating out and traveling.
“There are many 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 you can cut.
And if you’re lucky enough to have some spare cash, 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 upgrading to a bonus savings account, which earns additional interest if you meet certain criteria.”