How I saved $6600 on my household expenses in 2023

Cost of living. Three words that have come to define 2023. So, where do you find savings to help you manage your budget? Well, you don’t have to cut back on essentials or even luxuries such as holidays if you’re smart with your savings.

And, I hate to say it but those ‘financial gurus’ offering ‘five hacks to find financial freedom’ are pulling your chain.

I’m going to show you how I saved $6600 on my annual expenses.

It’s also a lot more realistic than the advice to do all your finances with a few phone calls in 30 minutes.

I can’t guarantee what’s right for my budget will also be right for you. But if it inspires you to cut a few hundred off your monthly expenses, then job done.

My main suggestion is: tackle the biggest expenses first. That’s where you’ll probably get the most savings – even if you don’t get round to tackling other expenses.

Car and home insurance

Car: $1763 to $1022

Home: $538 to $319

Home and car insurance premiums are both up by around 30 per cent this year. My car premiums had jumped by $440 and my contents insurance $110 (I rent).

My car insurer was offering a discount if I also took out contents insurance. It also offered a discount for paying in advance. Doing both, I was able to drop the cost of my home insurance cover from $538 to $319 for the year.

A few months later, my car insurance premiums went up by over $460.

I spent a bit of time shopping around, both using comparison sites such as Compare Club and direct.

Using car sales, I could see that my Corolla was still worth more used than I’d paid for it, so I opted for market value – where the insurer pays what the car is currently worth – over agreed value. I also upped my excess.

This dropped my premiums from $1763 to $1022. I also got free roadside assistance.

Total saved: $960

Health insurance

My wife and I have very different health needs. She needs a much higher level of hospital cover than me and my daughter.

Compare Club expert suggested splitting policies given the mismatch between our needs.

My wife upgraded to gold cover, while I took out a Single Parent Bronze Plus hospital policy.

My wife also gets additional benefits on Gold cover such as dietitian appointments and additional clinical support.

If we’d taken out a Gold family policy, it would have cost $7075. Splitting policies dropped that to $5856.

I don’t have extras as we don’t use much dental or other services. But I’ll be adding them soon after losing a pair of new glasses and having a daughter who’s just starting to get visits from the tooth fairy.

Final note: holding eligible hospital cover means both my wife and I avoid paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS). All up that comes to $3100 avoided in tax. 

I’m not going to include that as a saving, as our policy is more than the MLS, but our policy minus the offset means we’re paying $2786.

Given we’ve already had one ambulance bill this year – which is an occupational hazard as a parent – the policy has nearly paid for itself.

Amount saved: $1219

Credit card

I had planned to do a balance transfer to avoid interest on my outstanding balance.

But then I realised I’d paid for most of our family trip to the UK on my credit card, which gave me free travel insurance and saved $300.

I held onto the card and concentrated on clearing the outstanding balance.

In August, I switched to a 32-month 0 per cent balance transfer card with a revert rate of 14.99 per cent instead of the 19.99 per cent interest rate I was paying on my old card. This saved me $25 a month in interest.

I’m paying off any new purchases on the card within the interest free purchase period to avoid building up any new interest.

Amount saved: $600


This is probably the simplest way to save. Energy companies won’t tell you if they have a better value plan than the one you’re on, so it’s on you to do the legwork.

I’d been on my old plan for three years, so used my colleagues in energy at Compare Club to switch plans, saving $74 a month in the process.

I’m also eligible for the $180 NSW family energy rebate. Energy rebates vary from state to state, but typically families and concession card holders can benefit from them.

Amount saved: $424 (as I only switched in August)

And the rest

I rent, so no savings here, but my colleague Sophie Matthews has some tips for cutting your mortgage payments.

Streaming is an expense that can really creep. Be ruthless here.

We consolidated our streaming services and media subscriptions after working out it was costing more than Foxtel.

Mistakes included both of us paying for Spotify and Amazon Prime. My wife also hadn’t touched her Canva account in several months, so that was also binned.

We rotate our emails as sometimes streamers will offer you half or a full month for free, if you’ve not rejoined recently.

We’re saving $50 a month by being smarter at managing subscriptions.

Government vouchers are a great way for parents to save money. Each state and territory is different, so check what you’re eligible for.

Note that the NSW government dropped the value of a lot of these vouchers by $50 in their 2023 budget, so you won’t be able to get the savings I made today.

  • We applied for the First Lap NSW swim voucher just before our daughter started school, which is a bit of a loophole but it worked.
  • We’ve used $150 worth of Active Kids vouchers for MiniRoos registration and a Sydney FC school holidays clinic. The latter ended up cheaper than vacation care.
  • We also used $100 worth of Creative Kids vouchers. Not sure if this quite saved us anything once you took into account the meal and ice cream after a painting class, but we all had fun, and that’s worth more than any voucher.

Next, the weekly grocery shop. There’s something inherently depressing to me about spending time chasing voucher codes, loyalty points and buying in bulk when items are on offer.

Some people will undoubtedly save money, but I view time spent with my daughter as more valuable.

I spend less by shopping online – conservatively about $200 a month – by not impulse purchasing in-store and only getting what we need.

That said, instore avoids the lottery of replaced or non-existent items. So I’ll do one big shop at Coles or Woolies, two to three online shops, and a top up shop at Aldi.

A kids clothing exchange store has just opened near us, and we got $100 cash for some barely worn toddler clothes.

Amount saved annually: $600 on subscriptions, $300 by using government vouchers, $2400 by online grocery shopping, $100 cashback on old kids clothes.

Total savings

My total savings for 2023 come to a massive $6603.

If I held a mortgage or life insurance, I reckon I’d be nudging close to $9000-$10,000 by virtue of the fact I’d consolidate my car loan in any refinanced home loan. 

Given the brokers in our home loan team on average knock 0.8 per cent off a home loan and car loans tend to have a much higher interest rate than mortgages, there’s some serious savings to be had here.

The bottom line

You don’t have to cut back on essentials or even luxuries such as holidays if you’re smart with your savings. 

You shouldn’t need to feel guilty either for spending money on items that make you feel good. The cost-of-living crisis is depressing enough without the thought of cutting out my daily caffeine fix.

How you save is very much up to you, but this is what worked for me.

  • Tackle your biggest expenses first. Even if you only switch your home loan or health insurance and nothing else, this will make a huge difference to your monthly bank balance.
  • Balance time and money savings. Some families are super disciplined and love weekly budgeting time. I don’t. Give me a choice between family time and throwing in an extra few hours doing finance admin and it’s no choice at all. I outsource to expert brokers, such as Compare Club, and spend a small amount of time each month blitzing one big expense. I’m sure I could save more but family time isn’t worth the trade off to me.
  • Sell anything unwanted. People accumulate crap. Or hang onto items long after they’re needed. We’ve held two garage sales and got money for old clothes our daughter can’t fit into. It’s much more mentally rewarding for me to have fun when saving. I deal with spreadsheets enough at work, I’ve no wish to spend my personal time also budgeting. Garage sales are fun. What’s more, my daughter gets to play shop for real life and I can teach her about money and financial literacy.

Have you ever done an exercise like Gary did? Are you good at regularly reviewing your expenses? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Also read: Law firm claims insurers are punishing loyal customers

Gary Andrews is Compare Club’s senior brand manager and editor-at-large for Expert Analysis. YourLifeChoices is owned by Compare Club.

Gary Andrews
Gary Andrews
Gary Andrews is the Managing Editor of YourLifeChoices. He started his career as a local radio journalist in the UK and has written for the BBC, The Guardian and When Saturday Comes before moving to Australia in 2017. He oversees all content production at Compare Club (YourLifeChoices' parent company) and is passionate about financial literacy, positive representation of older Australians, and ensuring the over 50s voice is heard throughout the corridors of power. He once reported on the world's largest knitted garden. It had him in stitches.


  1. That may work in the writer’s situation.
    For me as a full age pensioner there are better ways.

    Insurance, drop it all except third party damage cover on your car. My home and contents insurance began increasing annually by around 50% about 12 years ago and 8 years ago became unaffordable so I dropped it. Have never made a claim and probably never would have. So based on the current premiums I am saving about $5,000 a year.

    Health Insurance, why pay for what is available for free in the public system both medical and dental. I have had excellent treatment in the public system. Saving about $2,000 annually.

    Credit Card. always pay the balance off in full so never pay interest. Make full use of the points you get and the free travel insurance.

    Energy, go all electric and install roof top solar. I installed a 6kw system eight years ago and it has paid for itself twice over already and still has a long life ahead. Quarterly power bill is around $100 for a household of 4. Saving around $2,000 pa.

    Ambulance, I live in Queensland where they are free.

    As to the rest of the article I agree only buy what you need and don’t horde what you don’t need. Shop at op shops for clothes and household goods where there is great stuff for little cost. That can save you thousands a year. And if you do buy a new appliance only buy ones that come with a long warranty of at least three years and preferably five years because whatever brand you buy it’s likely to need major service or replacement after a couple of years and you will save a small fortune if it gets done free under the warranty.

  2. I have to say – I am in shock at your figures. Can you please clarify? Or perhaps you have got your figures around the wrong way? I even have to wonder if this story is for Australians.

    Eg – HOW on earth can you get home insurance for $319? What are you insuring – a garden shed? And what type of car are you insuring for $1,000? – a mercedes? I have absolutely NEVER found house insurance cheaper than car insurance!

    This is my recent examples – only renewed in past month.
    (A) My Car. Valued at $18,500. Last year – premium was $295. Renewal wanted $682. That was 131% increase. Extensive shopping around, I got a better deal for $345. That’s an increase of 17%.
    (B) My home and contents. Firstly, I do not live in a flood zone, or high risk area, or wealthy suburb, but a Brisbane suburb. House insured for $650,000, contents for $40,000. Last year premium was $965. This year, renewal wanted $1465 – a 51% increase. So again, shopped around, cheapest I could get was $1142. That’s an increase of 18%.
    (C) Health Insurance. Come hell or high water, I will not let this go – and I am on the Aged Pension. Writer talks about he and his wife paying for Private Health Insurance so as to avoid paying the MLC. Well you only pay this if as a couple you earn more than $186,000!! So this couple doing OK.
    My high level PHI costs me $55 a week, and over the past 2 years, I have been able to have 2 hospital procedures within 5 weeks of seeing my specialist. Both doctors told me had I been on the public system, I would be waiting 18+ months. A friend recently paid $16,500 to have a procedure done in order to avoid a 2 year+ wait.
    I have solar, I have a pool, 2 dogs, and own my little 3BR home outright. Only finished paying it off 3 years ago, at age 68. I don’t live poorly, but don’t live extravagantly. I have very little super, and am a stringent bargain hunter. My one saving grace is doing a little side hustle of dog minding – all declared to Centrelink and Tax office. Might only average out to be around $100 a week, but that pays for my health insurance, and towards rates.

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