Savings Tips

By: Rhys Campbell

There are a number of small changes you can make to your everyday life. These may seems fairly minor savings but added together and applied regularly, they can make a difference.

Using ATM's

If you're lucky enough to be with a bank that doesn't charge for using ATM's then good luck to you. For everyone else, there are varying ranges of fees attached to excess ATM usage - you could save a little bit each month by watching your withdrawals and avoiding those fees.

If your account has a limit on the number of ATM/EFTPOS transactions per month, the first tip is to try and stay within that limit.....avoid those small transactions (i.e. $20 - $50 withdrawals) and you'll find you can manage better. Maybe it would be easier to withdraw a little extra cash each time and it keep somewhere safe so you're not tempted to spend it!

Another fee attached to ATM withdrawals occurs when you use an ATM operated by another bank. Most banks charge for the pleasure and convenience of cash withdrawals, so whenever possible, use your bank's ATM.

The big bank charge around 30 cents for excess ATM/EFTPOS transactions and around $1.50 when you use the facilities of a different lender!

Discount liquor

Check out Dan Murphy's or a similar discount liquor outlet for specials on alcohol. Depending on your choice of beers, you can sometimes save around $10 for a carton of premium beer and around $5 a carton for a carton of VB or Carlton Draught. Same applies for wines and spirits and it's even cheaper if you buy in bulk. My wife like "Pink" champagne and if we buy a case of 12 (we don't drink it all in one go), we can save about $2 - $4 per bottle compared to a regular liquor outlet...that's a saving of $24 - $48!

Consolidate and save

Do you pay insurance to a number of different companies? Well, if you approach your current main insurer or any prospective insurer and ask to consolidate your insurances (i.e. car, home and contents, life etc) you're bound to get a fairly decent discount on your premium payments.

Companies such as AAMI, RACV and Allianz offer all types of insurance and will definitely provide you with some type of discount when consolidating your policies. Insurance is a pretty competitive industry and it would be worthwhile approaching between 3 - 5 companies to set who can offer you the best rates.

Pump carefully

The day of the week when you buy your petrol can make a big difference. Studies indicate that in Australian capital cities, petrol is cheapest earlier in the week. The previous post "Buying Petrol" provide stats and charts that indicate that buying petrol on a Tuesday can save up to $260 a year! Coupled with the 4 cents of per liter shop-a-docket, and you could save around $360 a year!

Restaurants that offer BYO

Find restaurants that have a BYO policy and you can save big time.

Say you go out to eat twice a month and with every meal you enjoy a pleasant bottle of wine. Let us assume that a pleasant bottle of wine sets you back $15 at your local bottle shop. That same pleasant bottle of wine would probably cost about $30 - $40 is a non-BYO restaurant.

That's right, you can save $15 and $25 every time you eat out if you choose BYO. Find yourself a few decent BYO restaurants that you're happy with and you've saved yourself anywhere between $300 - $600 on the cost of your wine per annum depending on how many times you eat out.

By the way, a carton of Crown Lager can be bought on special for $40 a carton at Dan Murphy's, Liquorland etc, which equates to $1.66 a bottle. The price in restaurants ranges from anywhere between $5 - $7....you can do the math on that one.

Be a smart shopper

Check out the specials online before you shop for your groceries. When you know what you're going to buy, you invariably spend less. Try doing one big shop a week as opposed to several throughout the week....you will spend less. All supermarket chains have promotion days - keep an eye on the commercials or check out the "junk mail" for this week's specials.

Where possible, see if a no name or home brand alternative is available. The quality is usually just as good but the price is usually a lot cheaper. Also, buy bulk when the item is on special, that way you benefit from the reduced prices.

Another tip, don't go shopping when you're hunger, that's when everything looks great and you usually buy and spend more than you need to.

Consolidate your credit card debts

Are your credit cards out of control? Do you have multiple credit cards with excess balances incurring annual fees? Do you know what interest rate you're paying on each credit card?

You know what, you'd probably be better off if you consolidate your credit card debts onto one card. Most lenders offer new customers the ability to transfer existing debts at lower than normal interest for a set period of time, say six months.

Go to www.cannex.com.au or www.infochoice.com.au where you'll tables which will help you choose a credit card that is right for you. When you're looking at these sites, think about what you want: ability to transfer balances at low interest rate, low interest introduction rate, interest free days, low ongoing interest rate, quality rewards program linked to your frequent flyer program etc.

Remember one thing, it's usually the case that the more bells and whistles, the more you'll pay in annual fees and interest rates.
Either way, if you're serious about eating into your credit card debts and you're getting confused about how you owe and on which card, its time to consolidate and factor serious repayments into your budget.

Credit card debt is expensive debt and needs to be carefully monitored and managed as it can easily get out of control.

Negotiate on Utilities

Do you get phone calls from Telstra or Optus looking to secure your business? What about Electricity and Gas providers such as TRU Energy or Origin? Don't get annoyed and hang up, you could get yourself a good deal if you listen, compare and negotiate?

We consolidated our Gas and Electricity a couple of years ago and saved. Then we got a call from a competitor offering a better deal. We didn't want to go through the hassle of changing providers, so we rang our new provider, told them about the offer and asked them what they could do. They didn't only match the deal, they bettered it.

In addition to that, we consolidated our home phone, mobile phone and internet account into one package and ended up savings about $50 a month compared to having three different accounts with three different providers. If you live in the right area, you can even include you pay TV in the consolidation and save even more.

The utilities market is a competitive space and customer acquisition is pretty fierce. Companies will provide some qualities offers to get or retain your business, it's up to you to negotiate the best possible offer by either pushing your current provider for a better deal or seeing what the competition has to offer.

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