CHOICE experts have been hard at work in January to help you get the new year started right.
CHOICE consumer advocate Jonathan Brown says: “2019 was the fallout of the banking royal commission and big business scandals across Australia, but CHOICE wants 2020 to be the year the balance tips back in your favour.”
As a result, it has compiled its ‘Take Charge of 2020 Checklist’.
1. Demand a better price
“Too many businesses take advantage of your loyalty by charging you outrageously high prices over time,” says Mr Brown.
“In 2020, get on the phone and demand better from your service providers. Even calling just one or two of these providers can save you hundreds of dollars. A good start is to check you’re not paying too much for the essentials: telco, energy, banking and insurance.”
But CHOICE says to beware of commercial comparison sites.
“Commercial comparison sites are there to collect commissions or drive sales to their parent companies. Government or non-profit comparisons might look less flashy, but they’re much more trustworthy. Make sure you get advice from groups that care about your interests, not sales,” says Mr Brown.
2. Consolidate your super
“There’s a small change you can make today to end up with thousands more for your retirement,” says Mr Brown.
“Consolidate your superannuation. You could be paying exorbitant amounts in fees and insurance you’ll never benefit from. The basic problem is that you may have more than one superannuation account and not even realise. The more superannuation accounts, the more fees and insurance you could be getting charged. MyGov and the Tax Office make it easy to consolidate your super into one account. Pick one superannuation fund that meets your needs and stop paying double or even triple the fees.”
3. Health check your health insurance
“2019 saw the start of Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic health insurance categories in Australia. It was meant to make things easier, but we’re more confused than ever,” says Mr Brown.
“First, check whether you’re one of many Australians who has been tricked into paying for health insurance you don’t need. Our quiz at DoINeedHealthInsurance.com.au tells you the truth about health insurance and tax. Health insurance extras have no bearing on your tax and people on low incomes won’t save tax by having private health insurance.”
For those who do want or need private health cover, swapping health insurance providers can net big savings, including one CHOICE writer who saved over $1800 by changing from a rip-off policy.
4. Stop wasting money cooling and heating your home
“A quick trip to the hardware store and an afternoon performing some basic home upgrades could save you from exorbitant cooling and heating bills throughout the year,” says Mr Brown.
“Insulate, seal and shade – these are cost efficient ways to reduce your reliance on power sucking cooling and heating. Insulation alone can make your house up to 35 per cent cooler.”
5. Audit your pantry
“Last year we awarded a Shonky Award to a supposedly nutritious children’s cereal that contained 22 per cent added sugar,” says Mr Brown.
“The start of the year is the perfect time to audit the pantry and check for sneaky things hiding in the nutritional panel on your foods. There are over 40 names for added sugar hiding on food labels and in 2020, CHOICE is calling for health stars on food packets to penalise these sneaky sugars. Until then, the new year is a perfect opportunity to clean out the cupboards”
Read the complete article here.
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