Make significant savings in just a couple of days.
You might have cleared your closet of worn-out winter clothes and summer tops that aren’t going to make the cut for next season. But don’t forget about spring cleaning your finances – they need just as much love and attention as your wardrobe, and the pay-off can be far more satisfying.
Join myself and other Finder experts as we talk you through all the low-hanging fruit that can make saving $2,800+ on your day-to-day bills easier than you think.
- Important: There’s no way to predict a single scenario that will mirror everyone’s finances. Some of you may not have a mortgage or car insurance, for instance. Use this guide as a reference point and inspiration to get started on your own financial spring clean.
1. Clear your credit card debt with a 0% interest rate offer
If you’re paying off a credit card, moving what you owe to a new card with a 0% balance transfer offer will help you save on interest charges. For example, if you had an average credit card balance of $2,651 and a standard variable interest rate of 19.94% p.a., you could save up to $1,086 over 30 months with one of the balance transfer offers currently on Finder.
- Tip: See how much you’ll save by putting a balance and interest rate into the calculator at the top of Finder’s balance transfer comparison table. You can also use a credit card repayment calculator for more detailed number-crunching.
- Potential saving: $1,086 over 30 months.
Amy Bradney-George, credit cards expert
2. Refinance your home loan and save hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars
Refinancing your home loan is one of the easiest ways to save on your bills, because there’s the chance to save hundreds of dollars a month for just a few hours of paperwork and admin.
Our own Kate Browne did an experiment to see how long the entire process takes, from beginning to end. Turns out, it was the quickest $6,000 she’d ever made.
- Potential saving: $6,000 over 12 months.
Sarah Megginson, senior editor, money
3. Slash up to $300 per year from your energy bills
Let’s assume you signed up to an energy plan over a year ago. Most discounts or benefit periods last 12 months. After that, you’re put on a standing offer as opposed to a market offer (the same can happen when you move house), which means you lose any discounts.
Fortunately, this is easy enough to action. According to the latest research, you could save between $180 and $300 annually if you switched from a standing to market offer.
All you need to do is start comparing energy plans available to you in your area.
- Tip: The average household can save almost $100 a year just by switching off standby appliances.
- Potential saving: $180-$300 per year for the average household.
4. Get the same mobile plan – but cheaper
Finder’s Consumer Sentiment Tracker (CST) found that Aussies, on average, spend $52 per month on their mobile plan.
We did some number crunching using our engine and found that $50 gets you a median 55GB of data allowance each month.
After digging through available plans on Finder, we can conclude there are cheaper options on the market that will give you similar value (and you won’t have to lose your phone number either).
For example, iiNet Mobile’s Extra Large Plan costs only $20 for the first 6 months and goes up to $39.99 after that, with a data allowance of 55GB. Overall, you’ll end up paying approximately $360 over the year.
- Tip: For more options that come with heaps of data, check out our best deals for October (hint: you could be paying $10 for the first 3 months for a monthly 50GB data allowance).
- Potential saving: If you’re spending $52 (or $624 a year) on average, going with a plan similar in price to iiNet could save you $264 in 12 months.
5. Don’t set and forget your Internet plan
It’s easy to continue with the same Internet plan or provider if your connection’s not giving you trouble. However, 55% of you (from 816 respondents) told us you would be keen to find a cheaper deal.
Our CST found that on average, Aussies spend $78 per month on Internet services. Or, $936 over the year.
Let’s assume you’re on NBN 50, which is ideal for 2-3 people (and also the most popular NBN speed tier with Finder users).
On our site, one of the cheapest unlimited data NBN 50 plans will cost $54.90 for the first 6 months, and $69.90 thereafter for full 50Mbps speeds, the maximum you can get on this speed tier. This costs around $750 for the year. If you compare it to the average annual cost ($936), you’re looking at $186 in savings.
- Tip: Use our comparison table for NBN plans by filtering to a budget that suits you. You’ll notice a lot of providers offering 6-month discounts with no set-up fee or locked-in contracts. It’s easy to switch, whether now or after 6 months once the promo runs out.
- Potential saving: Around $186 per year.
6. Get rid of unused streaming subscriptions and cancel free trials on time
When you factor in music, sports, movies and the various television subscription services, it’s easy to see how streaming subscriptions can add up.
I checked my spending on streaming recently and found that I could save up to $50 a month if I cancelled subscriptions I wasn’t using regularly enough.
That’s $600 a year in savings, which is enough for a return trip to Fiji with Jetstar or about 5 return trips from Sydney to Melbourne (depending on flight sales).
- Tip: Set reminders in your calendar every few months or so to check your usage. If you’ve signed up for a free trial, set a reminder a few days before the billing date. If you’re like me, once you’re locked in for another month you’re likely to forget to cancel again.
If you’re only using a particular service for one show, check to see if it’s available on another service you’re using more regularly. Remember you can cancel your subscription and start it back up again when the new season of your favourite show starts airing.
- Potential savings: Around $600 a year.
Dylan Crismale, travel expert
7. Avoid paying extra fees on your super
While you’re spring cleaning your finances, it’s the perfect time to check on what could be one of your biggest financial assets – your super. Jump online to your myGov account and click the “superannuation” option (this is linked through the ATO).
The first thing to check is that you only have one super account open. If you’ve got more than one, you’re paying multiple sets of fees unnecessarily. To consolidate them into one is as easy as clicking a few buttons in your myGov account.
While you’re there, look at how your super fund has performed over the last few years and how the annual fees compare to others in the market. Switching from a high-fee fund to a low-fee fund when you’re young could help you retire with hundreds of thousands of dollars more.
- Tip: If you’ve been paying higher fees and earning lower returns than other super funds, you can follow our 4-step guide on how to change super funds and be done in less than 20 minutes.
- Potential saving: The savings are pretty specific to you, your age and your account balance. Let’s say you’re 30, earning $75,000 per year and have a super balance of $40,000. Moneysmart’s calculator confirms that by reducing your super investment fees from 2% p.a. to 1% p.a. you could save $88,333 over the rest of your working life.
Alison Banney, editor, banking and superannuation
8. Get new car insurance for life after lockdown
Recent Finder research looked into the average cost of 35 different car insurers, and found a big difference in prices. While one insurer’s average cost for a comprehensive plan was $628, another’s was as high as $3,479 – a whopping difference of $2,851.
Given the average Aussie pays $984 per year on car insurance, you could be saving at least $356 annually by shopping around for a better deal.
- Tip: An insurance firm owner told me that lockdown easing is likely to lead to an increase in premiums. There’ll be an inevitable hike in the number of claims being made as more drivers hit the road. And this may be compounded by the cost of repairs creeping up owing to the disruption in the manufacturing and shipping of parts. Even if you’re reading this in an area that hasn’t been impacted by lengthy lockdowns, I’d still recommend shopping around to find a competitive deal on your insurance.
- Potential saving: $356 per year.
James Martin, insurance expert
9. Avoid Medicare Levy Surcharge with a basic hospital policy
You may not have thought about health insurance as a bill you can switch regularly, but it’s actually pretty easy. Plus, prices change in April every year, so you may be able to move to a similar policy for cheaper.
It’s as easy as comparing health insurance policies side by side, selecting what treatments you want covered and then filtering results by price. You could save more than $20 a month following this one easy step.
- If you earn over $90,000 a year ($180,000 for couples) and you don’t have hospital cover, you’ll be charged the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) at tax time. The MLS is between 1% and 1.5% of your income which, if you’re earning $90,000, is a monthly tax of $75. This increases for every extra dollar you earn. A basic health insurance hospital policy could be cheaper than the extra tax you’ll pay, and gives you access to some basic private healthcare.
- Potential saving: $240 a year.
Gary Hunter, insurance expert
Looking for more ways to save yourself time and money? Check out our 10 budgeting tips that can help you meet your savings goals.