It’s the time of year where all our car insurances are due. I have an annual process I follow and it occurred to me that it would be nice if I shared it and several other ways I save money at home. Here are my top 5 tips.
I thought I would start with the inspiration for my post. Insurance is a very competitive market and prices change and get reduced all the time. Your needs can change from year to year as well, so I find it best to do a review of most insurances every 12 months. This can be a little time consuming but well worth the effort.
Every year I get a renewal notice from my insurer with my new insurance rate for the upcoming year. Every year I get online and get quotes from a range of other insurers and my current insurer. Every year my current insurer comes in as the cheapest quote (for me) and they generally beat their own price by at least $150. So I cancel my existing policy and take up the new, cheaper one.
No one at my insurer has been able to explain it to me as the product is exactly the same in terms of excess and what the policy covers. It would seem that my insurer prefers to reward new customers over existing loyal ones. I have checked with several other people and this seems to be the standard across the industry. Well worth the 30 minutes spent online getting quotes (and the 10 minutes spent unsubscribing from all their email databases later).
Another thing worth noting is that if your circumstances change during your insured period, you can call your insurer and tell them of the changes and you may get a reduced rate. For example, if you pay off your car loan, let your insurer know and your premium should reduce effective from the date the loan was finalised. Don’t wait til next year.
The life insurance market is similarly structured and it’s worth a review of your policy at least every 2 years. The same goes for your health insurance, with some potentially big gains. I have used iSelect to find a new health insurer and been really happy with them, even though their ads annoy the daylights out of me. Changing over health insurance is pretty easy, as long as all your waiting periods are waived. This change saved me about $50 a month!
I managed to halve our electricity bill in the space of a few months using a couple of different strategies. The first thing I did was a review of our provider and their rates. This isn’t always an option but if it is, you should be doing it once every 2 years as a minimum. It’s really important to ignore claims about percentages and do the maths on what the bottom line prices are.
What I mean by this is, company A may be offering a 50% discount and company B may only be offering a 5% discount. What they don’t make very clear in most cases is that company A charges you $100 per unit and company B only charges you $50 per unit. Company A will be pushing the point that their discount is bigger BUT 50% off $100 is $50. 5% off $50 is $47.50. So even though company B has a lower discount, they actually cost you less.
The best thing to do is get your hands on the rates for the new company, get an old bill and go through and work out how much that bill would have cost you with the new company. Then you have a solid comparison.
I called EnergyWatch to find out who the cheapest providers were in my area and then got the rates for those people and did my comparison. Switching providers saved me about $150 per quarter right off the bat.
The other big thing I did was switch our electric hot water services over to heat pumps. This saved another couple of hundred per quarter. You can read more about that here.
There are, of course, lots of little things you can do as well. These include:
- replacing all globes in the house with energy saving globes
- getting the TV attachments that turn the TV off properly instead of leaving it in standby mode
- getting the special adapters for plugging other appliances (such as the DVD player, DVR and XBox) into so they are also turned off properly instead of sitting in standby more
- turning off lights when you leave the room (it is worth noting here that we have flouro tubes in our kitchen light. I know it uses roughly 1 hour’s worth of energy to power that globe up, so I actually leave the kitchen light on when I know I will be back there in less than an hour).
- daylight harvesting, which is a fancy term for leaving your curtains open and letting in as much natural light ass possible
On their own, these things don’t save much but they all add up. The fact that saving electricity helps to save the planet as well as some cash is the icing on the cake!
3. Mortgage Review
I have literally just completed one of these and it has saved me around $400 a month. That’s $400 a month that can now go towards paying off my house faster! I was well overdue, not having done a review since before my first child was born over 7 years ago. Ideally you should do this every 2 to 3 years. The best part about this is, it’s free! Any good mortgage broker can conduct this review for you and make sure your mortgage product meets your needs and you are getting the best possible deal for you.
Personally, I can highly recommend Lisa from The Loan Room. She made the whole thing so easy, and obviously got me the results, that I am totally going to give her a shameless plug! You can get in touch with Lisa on 0418 174 003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I honestly can’t believe I waited so long to do this. Don’t make my mistake and get onto it today. You have nothing to lose.
Okay so this one’s not a surprise to anyone. I save an absolute BUNDLE on cleaning products using Tri Nature. It’s one of the many reasons I switched to these products 7 or so years ago. Of course, once I realised I was going to keep using these products, I joined so I could get the bigger discount and save even more money. Many people do this with Tri Nature and just buy for themselves. Now, obviously, I have ended up selling the products so my products pay for themselves and then some which is just a bonus.
Product wise, the big ticket savings for our house come from these products:
Tri Nature directions on the Dishwasher Powder say to use a full scoop but my dishwasher always leaves about half behind so I only use half a scoop and that’s plenty. So at full retail price, this costs about $0.23 per load. Compared with supermarket brands it’s a saving for me of roughly $10 per month. $120 is a night away (or two if we’re camping) for us. Happy days!
Again, I find half of what Tri Nature recommend is all I need to get great results so this also costs me around $0.23 per load. This is at least half the cost of using the supermarket “sensitive” brand I was using before. With 8-10 loads a week, I save roughly $100 per year on laundry powder/liquid too. Both the Tri Nature liquid and the powder are equally effective and thy both work out to roughly the same cost per wash. I am fundamentally a lazy person so I mainly use the liquid. It’s easier to pump the liquid into the machine than to fiddle around opening the bucket to scoop out the laundry powder.
I buy the concentrate and mix it up myself. At full retail price, a 500ml made-up bottle of Supre works out to $1.25. Supermarket equivalents are roughly $5 to $8 for the same amount. We use this spray a lot. I use it on the bench, stove, walls, bathroom bench, shower, oven, the outdoor table, getting bug guts off the bumper bar and even for cleaning the patio tiles. It still takes about 2 months to use a whole bottle. A modest saving of around $22 per year but that’s still 4 or 5 take away hot chocolates.
Again, I buy the concentrate and mix it up myself. At full retail price, the Sphagnum Moss works out to $0.65 per 500ml made-up bottle. Again, supermarket equivalents are roughly $5 to $8 for the same amount. In our house, Sphag Moss is used for cleaning toilets and bins and as an odour killer in shoes, teenage boys’ rooms and in the bathroom. I also add the concentrate to the mop bucket for the indoor floors for yummy smell, germ killing power and odour neutraliser. This saves me around $50 a year.
I keep a 5L of the Tri Nature handwash in the shower and my partner and kids use it as a body wash. I have Cuisipro Foam Pumps on the sinks in both bathrooms and the kitchen and laundry. These things are the BEST! You put in a small amount of handwash and then fill up the rest of the bottle with water and it turns your handwash into a foam. It saves 75% of handwash, according to their label. if you have a high traffic area, or you have young kids, these foam pumps will save you a mint.
We take our own food absolutely everywhere we can. With up to 6 kids on any given day, buying food for everyone gets pretty expensive pretty quickly. Any time we go out and I know we are going to be out past meal time, I pack a ton of sandwiches. Everyone must take a water bottle with them (we have lots of reusable ones from various sports groups and associations). Obviously I am happy about not putting more plastic into the environment wherever I can too. If we find ourselves out without the necessary preparation, I will always try and find a supermarket to grab a roast chicken and a loaf of bread. $15 at the supermarket beats $50 on sandwiches or $150 on dinner for everyone.
Examples of places I take our own food include sporting events, day trips, adventure parks, long drives, the local park and even if we are just going to the shops for the day. I also take our own snacks to the movies. I make popcorn at home. Not microwave popcorn but proper “old fashioned” popcorn that I make in the saucepan. A big bag of corn kernels costs around $1.50 from the supermarket and makes the rough equivalent of about 6 large serves of popcorn from the movies. If you don’t have time to make it (although it literally take about 6 minutes), again, the supermarket has pre popped bags for a lot less than the movies. Chocolates, lollies and even ice creams are all much cheaper from the supermarket than at the cinemas so I stock up and take them in with me.
“Old fashioned” popcorn is a cheaper and healthier alternative for a movie night snack than a bag of chips and is also a great playlunch snack in the kids’lunchbox.
The rule is that lunches get taken from home for work or school. Lunch orders or take away are the rare exception. This also helps me improve food choices. A lunch made at home in advance is always much healthier than any choices I make on an empty stomach in the take away shop. The kids will always choose “sometimes” foods for their lunch orders, instead of healthier options. Ultimately I am sure there’s a benefit in less money spent on doctors and medication flowing on from this. I find I save roughly $40 a week by taking my own food to work, compared with what I used to spend before. That’s over $2000 a year!
Obviously a great way to save money spent on water is to use a little water as possible from the water company. Cathcing rainwater is a great way to supplement and reduce any dependence on town water. If you can’t afford a rainwater tank, it doesn’t hurt to use whatever containers you have to capture as much as possible from the sky. Buckets and containers under downpipes or even left in the open when it’s raining can help.
Recycling water you do use is another great way to reduce your need for town water. Some ways I do this are by re-using as much “used” water as I can on the garden or in the compost heap. This includes:
- any part finished drink bottles of water that have been sitting around for a few days
- water from steamed or boiled veggies
- cold water from my hot water bottle (yes, I totally have one and use it ALL the time in winter)
- bailing the bath water out
- having buckets on the floor in the shower to capture whatever I can before it goes down the drain
This house was built long before we got here and is on a concrete slab, so there’s little I can do about the shower and bath water that runs down the drains without spending a fortune. My neighbour’s house has all the grey water running onto the garden which I think is terrific. If you have the luxury of designing your house from scratch, it’s definitely worth considering.
What I have done with the washing machine is have the outlet hose running straight out the window into a wheelie bin. The wheelie bin has a hose attachment on it down the bottom. This allows me to wheel it around the garden and use the water where I need to. In reality, it’s always full and too heavy to move so I find a long hose to attach and drag the other end to wherever I feel is best. I just leave it to dribble out. This has been especially great for encouraging grass to grow back where we had nothing but dirt in the backyard. I plan to follow suit with the dishwasher soon.
Here’s a quick video showing you what I did:
So there you have it. Hopefully I have given you some simple ideas about how to save some money around your house. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them in the comments below.