Five questions that are guaranteed to save you money

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per Vanessa Stoykov

Sometimes asking the right question is all you need to do to improve things in your life. But if you don’t know what to ask, you can’t get a result. Vanessa Stoykov has worked in the financial services sector as an educator for more than 24 years. She says five simple questions can save you thousands of dollars.

1. Is this the best deal I can get?
It sounds basic, but we often don’t ask the question. The first suspects are your health insurance, utilities and super fund. It’s important to find out what fees you are paying and ask the question. For example, I realised that I was paying for maternity cover on my health care long after that horse had bolted! Nobody ever stopped to ask me if I still needed it, and I never asked the question. Same with your utility company. Ask if there is a contract that may be cheaper – or if you pay via direct debit – ask if you can get a discount or if the company has any other promotion or plan that can save on your utility bills. This can put major dollars back in your bank account, rather than in theirs.

2. Do I really need this now?
I know, we usually believe we do, but it’s a great question to ask yourself when out and about shopping – especially if you intend to put this item on your credit card. If you don’t have the cash to pay for it, and it’s not a burning, critical, must-have item, really question whether you need it. Because putting things on credit is just increasing the burden on you to keep working just to pay it back. Start thinking about how to make what you have last longer, or go further, and cut back on what you are spending day to day.

3. Can I get this cheaper buying online or in bulk?
Too often we pay more for items because we need them now. A bit of planning and research can often save you thousands. Google is the first port of call, and with online selling sites, and cheap bulk discount places such as Aldi or Costco, thinking ahead, and shopping around can save you a lot. Even buying in bulk and storing it can really work to reduce your day-to-day shopping bills.

4. How much can I invest in myself?
For years, I have worked on the adage to pay myself first – which can be hard when you have a whole bunch of things to pay for. Usually, we pay whatever we need to, and whatever we have left is what we live on. This is ineffective because we are putting ourselves last – and to get ahead, you need to put yourself first. Some have a rule to put away 10 per cent of their earnings before anything else gets paid. The key is to ask yourself: what are you worth and how can you invest in yourself more? Then, open an account that’s hard to touch and get an amount deducted from your pay. In a few months you won’t even notice it’s gone; you’ll have a tidy nest egg building up, and that feels good. 

5. What do I really want for my life?
Sounds like a big question, but if you don’t have a goal, then all the questions in the world won’t motivate you. By spending some time thinking about what you really want your life to be like, not just next week or next month, but next year, in five years or 10 years, you can start making some strategic decisions about life. Thinking long term can save you thousands of dollars by not making bad short-term decisions that don’t serve you and the life you really want.

Do you have any sneaky cost-cutting strategies to share? Do you buy in bulk? Do you query your energy company regularly?

Vanessa Stoykov is a financial educator who believes anybody can start making their money work for them if they unlearn their habits around money. Her website, has tips and tools to help you get ahead financially.

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Total Comments: 7
  1. 0

    In regards the “Can I get it cheaper buying online or in bulk” I would offer the following suggestions.
    Buy non-perishable stuff when on special. If Toilet paper is 1/2 price – stock up as it does not go off.
    In regards buying online, remember that buying online from overseas means Aussies loose jobs so weight that up. We had to buy something once which was $20 in Australia and $1.50 inc postage from overseas. We brought overseas. However if there is only a few dollars consider buy in Australia as it supports our jobs and also is much easier to return if something goes wrong especially if you buy from a bricks and mortar store. So yes look out for cheaper options but weigh up the overall cost if you can afford the extra few dollars, especially if it is the sort of purchase that only happens once a year or less.

    • 0

      Yes I wanted a case for my phone $20-00 plus here, same one from China $1-50 including postage. Something I don’t like is hypocrites like Dick Smith made billions from selling cheap overseas electronics. Now he spouts buy Australian made, especially when it is his brand. Never mind the fact it is a lot more expensive. Go to Aldi and see how many pensioners are shopping there trying to make there money go a little bit further. Sometimes you have to shop with your wallet not your heart!

  2. 0

    Yes. Many people still impulse buy. End up with house full of bric-a-brac and junk like hoarders seen on TV. Causes them problems down the track. Mainly benefits countries such as China etc.

  3. 0

    Save on everything. Never consider a small saving not worth it. Shop specials not when you run out but half price and freeze if needed. It all adds up. Bargain for better deals.

  4. 0

    I was getting a 15% discount on my electricity as I paid it online. I got an email from Flybuys who were offering a deal with AGL that would give me a 25% discount. I ended up ringing up my current provider and now get a 30% discount. It does pay to ask.

    • 0

      Hi James. What is the per KWH rate you are paying after the 30% discount. Both day and night rate or controlled load rates ?. Also what is the daily network rate ? Do you receive feed in rate for solar and if yes what is that rate per KWH.

    • 0

      As long as the cost of power per day is less than half a schooner of beer I won’t complain, live in a unit so cannot have solar power and just make do with what’s available.



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