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CHOICE experts share money-saving tips to easily bank an extra $7000 this year

Being smarter with money is an aspiration that topped New Year’s resolution lists this year, as cost-of-living pressures continue to weigh heavily on household budgets.

But by swapping out certain products with cheaper or homemade alternatives, shopping around, and changing a few surprisingly expensive habits, consumer advocates said an annual saving of more than $7000 was possible.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Changing electricity providers could help you save thousands.

Watch the latest news and stream for free on 7plus >>

CHOICE editorial director Mark Serrels said it just took a little extra effort and forethought.

“Saving money doesn’t always have to be a grind,” he said.

Switching appliances off at the powerpoint, changing the way you wash your clothes, and changing energy providers alone can shave more than $1000 off energy-related expenses alone.

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“Our nationally representative survey showed that in September 2023, 85 per cent of Australians were concerned about electricity costs,” Serrels said.

But making coffee and other beverages at home, as well as opting for cheaper cleaning products and more competitively priced insurance providers, can also do wonders for the end of year bank balance.

Energy costs to cut

Changing the way you wash your clothes can save up to $970 per year.

“By washing a full load of clothes on a cold cycle rather than small loads in warm water, plus switching to a cheaper (but just as effective) detergent and using less of it, you could save about $440,” Serrels said.

Ditching fabric softener can help Australians save an additional $76 per year and, according to the CHOICE white goods expert, they can do more harm than good.

“It actually makes your towels less absorbent and can reduce the fire retardancy of clothes,” she said.

Drying clothes on the line, rather than in the dryer, can also save nearly $450 annually.

Switching off appliances at the powerpoint can save up to $240 per year.

Even if a device or appliance is turned off, if it is connected to a power point it is still sucking energy.

“Printers and wireless routers are known to be big energy hogs. By turning them off at the powerpoint, you will ensure you’re not wasting unnecessary money,” Serrels said.

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Changing your energy provider can save up to $285 per year.

Shopping around for a more competitive energy provider can save Australians hundreds each year, with many customers having been initially enticed to sign up with since-expired deals.

“Energy retailers love to lure us in with cheaper rates, knowing we’ll usually stick with them even when prices increase to avoid the hassle of switching,” Serrels said.

Most states have a comparison service which allows residents to search for the best deals available.

In Victoria, the Victorian Energy Compare helps residents find the cheapest electricity and gas deals for your household or business and also allows you to work out how much money you could save by installing solar panels.

In New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, residents can compare electricity and gas offers, as well as bundled plans on the federal government’s Energy Made Easy tool.

Spending habits to shake

Making beverages at home can save up to $2350 per year.

Delicious beverages take a serious dent out of our daily budget — coffee drinkers alone buy 1.3 million cups daily and sending $7.7 billion in revenue to the coffee sector annually getting their caffeine fix, according to Accumulate Australia.

“Making your coffee at home, including the costs for buying the machine, ingredients and upkeep, would cost around $1284 for two cups daily over a year,” Serrels said.

“The same amount from a café could cost around $3504 — saving you $2200 by making your own at home.”

That figure would be increased for the majority of Australians who already have a coffee machine at home. Pre-pandemic figures from Accumulate Australia found that 65 per cent of Australians already had the equipment to brew a cup.

And cutting back on bottles of mineral water could also help you save money.

“Making your own sparkling water at home using a soda maker could also save you $150 a year when compared to purchasing bottles from the supermarket,” Serrels said.

Spreading out the weekly shop can save up to $1664 per year.

“You can save up to 20 per cent on your groceries if you shop around to find the best deals,” Serrels said.

“If you’re lucky enough to have a few supermarkets in a nearby shopping centre, it’s worth spreading your weekly shop across different stores to reduce your grocery bill.”

Aldi releases an online newsletter with Wednesday and Saturday specials, Coles releases a catalogue on Monday evenings with deals for Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and IGA stores reveal their specials in a Wednesday catalogue.

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And there are plenty of other savvy tactics to help shoppers save, too

CHOICE food and nutrition expert Rachel Clemons suggests shoppers “buy cheap cuts of meat and cook them in a slow cooker” and “check the unit pricing when buying fruit and vegetables — sometimes pre-packaged fruit and vegetables can be cheaper than loose and vice versa”.

Switching insurance providers can save up to $2350 per year.

“The same cover with a different insurer can be hundreds of dollars cheaper,” Serrels said.

“Whether you have a gold, silver or a bronze policy, you’ll likely be able to find a cheaper deal.”

The federal government requires all insurers to provide the costs and details of insurance products to the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman, which allows PrivateHealth.gov.au to offer a comprehensive comparison tool for all states and territories.

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