Making ends meet from week to week, can send any family into a spin -- but, investing a little time and effort, can save you a fortune.
Narelle and Chris Frecker's bills are double what they were five years ago. With three kids ... two televisions .... a computer … and several phones ... their electricity isn't the only bill growing.
To stay on top -- they use direct debit. “That helps us budget a bit for it -- we can put a bit aside and we know its going to be roughly the same amount each time”, the couple said.
But the hassle of changing companies for a better deal, is often worse than a chore. But consumer group Choice has found more than half of all families are now actively finding ways to reduce household bills
The Freckers decided to shop around online:
Their first stop was iselect.com.au -- for health insurance: Their Health Insurance with Medibank was about $2,820 -- for similar sorts of options, they found with HCF a better deal for $2,340 -- a saving of around $480.
Now car insurance: after 20 minutes filling out forms online, they found their annual bill of $732 with AAMI could be reduced to $654 with Budget Direct -- a saving $78.
Next stop was goswtich.com.au to compare electricity prices. Currently they're paying about $2,618 a year with Origin but for the same service, they can switch to Red Energy for about $2,300 a year -- a saving of $320.
With gas they're paying about $1,035 year with Simply Energy. Changing to AGL will save them $52 a year, but they'd have to sign up for a two year contract.
As for their phones, mobile comparisons were difficult to find on phonechoice.com.au . Their home phone and internet deal on the other hand, proved a little more fruitful. Currently they're paying $1,620 a year for AAPT -- they can change to Optus and pay $1188 -- a yearly saving of $432.
Phone/Internet Was $1620, is now $1188 -- Saving $432.
Overall, this family has saved more than $1300. “That's a holiday, that's a lot of things”, the couple said.
Money Apathy continued…
But they won't be switching everything to save. “With the car insurance it was a saving of $78 a year and for $6 a months, really it’s not worth swapping over”, they said.
Prue Webb from i-select says when changing insurance, make sure you've got the right cover. “With health insurance, if you're at the stage in your life where you've had your family, then things like pregnancy shouldn't be on your policy”, she said.
Sue and Michael Pascoe-Johnson are also keen to save. They owe $279,500, with an interest rate of 5.24% and are making repayments of $1,275. But the five year Westpac loan is coming to an end.
After an hour on mortgagechoice.com.au --and on the phone to broker Marissa Rock from Rock and Ingliss mortgage brokers -- the couple found they could swap to Bankwest for a better deal. “The ultra ratetracker loan -- so on a loan amount of $279 500, repayments would come down to $1,134, a saving $150 a month”, Marissa said.
The other stress is the credit card debt. Currently they're paying 18% interest with Westpac. “You can also switch over your credit card to the bankwest light credit card at 4.99% for 15 months and then it will revert to 9.99% with an $89 set up fee”, Marissa said.
“So with the home loan and the credit card savings that's about $3,200 a year which is pretty good -- it's a holiday!”, Michael said.
But be warned -- swapping deals and cutting contracts early can incur an exit or cancellation charge.
Cath Robison from website Cheapskates says research is the key to a good deal. “You are responsible for your finances, you can't blame anyone else -- you have to accept responsibility. Get off your backside and go and find a cheaper way to do it”, Cath said.