Based on the results from our Retirement Affordability survey, we know our members are a bunch of savvy spenders and savers. So, in what will be a four-part series of articles, we’ve chosen 20 of the best and simplest tips provided and offer ways in which they can be achieved.
1. Household tips
Your tips: Limit cleaning products to vinegar methylated spirits and bicarbonate of soda instead of using dozens of expensive products. And use cold water as much as possible for washing clothes.
It’s a great idea to use what you have in your home as natural cleaning products, not only are they generally cheaper, using less of harsh chemicals is better for the environment and your health. Using natural products also takes a little more elbow grease, so there is also an associated fitness benefit.
For some suggestions on what to use, and for which purpose, read out article ‘Four natural cleaning products’.
2. Manage your power usage
Your tips: Install solar panels. Reduce electricity. Be careful with power.
While all these are great tips, it’s often the standard supply charges that make reducing power bills difficult. The cost of installing solar panels may be prohibitive. And given that the Government is about to cease investment in small-scale solar projects, this will remove this method of cost reduction for those who don’t own their own home or live in an apartment or unit and can’t readily install solar panels themselves.
First step is to compare your current charges against what is being offered by other energy retailers. To do this, you should compare:
- the supply charge, (fixed daily amount)
- the price (tariff) you are paying for energy (how many cents per kWh or MJ)
- discounts offered and to which charges they
- incentives on offer
- contract period and payment options (e.g. direct debit, BPay, Centrepay, monthly billing)
- price increase terms and whether you can fix the price for a certain period
- any fees, including early termination fees or incentive payback terms.
- any fees for a paper bill or credit card payments.
Once you have decided on a new energy retailer, or decided to stick with your current provider, then you should look at how you use your power. These 10 simple tips may help reduce the energy you use.
Layering clothes and wearing wool helps keep you warm in winter, which should enable you to turn your heater down.
Drop the thermostat
Every degree above 20 can add 10 per cent to your heating bill and in summer, set your thermostat to 26 degrees or above to save on cooling costs.
Wash clothes in cold water
No only is it better for your clothes, you can save around $115 per year by washing your clothes in cold water. Using the shortest cycle possible will also help cut costs.
Fix your fridge
As your fridge is always switched on, making sure it’s sealed and stacked properly is key to using your energy efficiently. Ensure your door seals are tight and don’t over fill your fridge. To ensure the motor doesn’t over heat, your fridge should also have at least a 10mm gap between it and any wall.
Stop standby power waste
Up to 10 per cent of your electricity could be used by gadgets and appliances that are on standby. You can simply ensure everything is switched off, or install standby power controllers that switch appliances off when not in use.
3. Cook in bulk, using cheaper ingredients
Your tips: Cook nourishing soups and freeze two or three varieties, cook other dishes double amounts and freeze for future use.
It goes without saying that soups and stews are hearty meals that can be made in large amounts and frozen. Less expensive cuts of meat and vegetables that may be about to spoil can also be used, making such dishes incredibly economical. Throw in the use of a slow cooker and you also reduce your power bills.
Why not try our recipes that are great for doing all of the above, or share your own?
4. Give the high street a miss
Your tips: Shop at factory outlets. Shop for clothes at OP shops
Unless you’re looking to dress at the cutting edge of fashion, then shopping at large chain stores or expensive boutiques isn’t really necessary. Op shops not only sell goods for less, you usually find better quality clothing that people may simply have grown out of or no longer wear. And remembers, you’ll also be help a worthy cause. This handy site can help you find op shops in your area, with customer recommendations to help you choose which ones are best.
Factory outlets are another good place to get good quality clothing, footwear and even household goods without paying high street prices. As the goods are often from last season, they are sold at a much lower price. The only downside of factory outlets is that they tend to be out-of-town. You can, however, always get a group of friends together to share the transport costs and make a day of it.
Check out AFO.com.au for details of outlets that are in your vicinity.
5. Idle hands…
Your tips: Keep busy through work as a volunteer.
Take your mind off the long days and remove the temptation to spend by volunteering at your chosen charity or organisation to keep yourself busy. Not only will you be doing some good, you’ll also be giving yourself the chance to make new friends and keep active.
Ask around to find out what opportunities are available or search on VolunteeringAustralia.org
Click 'Next' to read Part two and the next five tips
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