The old saying, ‘a penny saved is a penny earned’ is an adage still relevant today. With interest rates low and the cost of living not getting any cheaper, many people on a fixed income are looking to reduce their expenses. The first step should be to budget regularly – but what about other practical ways we can save? Below, NICRI’s Craig Hall lists 10 ways you may be able to save your pennies… er, dollars.
Take advantage of discounts available through government- issued Concession Cards. Anyone in receipt of Government Income Support (GIS) is automatically entitled to a Pension Concession Card (PCC). The PCC may provide discounts on council rates, utilities, car registration and driver’s licence fees; among other things. For those who don’t qualify for an Age Pension but still meet an income test, there is the Seniors Health Card which assists with pharmaceuticals and some other expenses. For those above a certain age (usually 60) and not working full-time, states and territories offer a ‘seniors card’ which may entitle holders to discounts for public transport and other state-based services.
1. To receive discounts, consider buying in bulk, and/or purchase items together with friends, family and neighbours.
2. Look for better banking deals to save on fees and earn more interest. Speak to your financial institution and others to compare fees, interest rates and accessibility. Avoid automatic teller machines fees by using those that offer free transactions.
3. Refer to YOURLifeChoices enews, website and forums for special deals, and to discover what other retirees are experiencing and where they are saving through online forums.
4. Take advantage of shopper dockets and loyalty cards, but avoid unnecessary expenditure just to achieve rewards.
5. Consider funeral bonds as an investment alternative for your ‘final expenses’. Funeral bonds of up to $11,750 are exempt under the means test which may be beneficial to GIS entitlements.
6. Consider energy efficiency in your home. Good insulation; efficient heating and cooling; skylights; energy efficient lighting and solar energy can all contribute to reducing energy consumption and therefore utility bills.
7. Check phone, mobile and internet plans for better pricing and/or those which suit your requirements. Look at your past bills to understand your usage, and shop around for the packages that best suit.
8. Barter where possible. Trade your skills and knowledge for goods and services you require. For example, you might be handy in the garden or in the kitchen, while a neighbour may have worked in the building industry. You may offer to tend their garden in exchange for them patching up a wall or fixing a fence.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. The cost of cars, electrical goods and other products are often negotiable and the price shown is frequently a ‘starting point’. Paying by cash may get you a further discount off the price. The worst that can happen is they say no.
Craig Hall is an expert in the financial matters facing retirees. If you require further information please contact NICRI toll free on 1800 020 110, or visit www.nicri.org.au.
Prior to acting on information provided in our articles, the National Information Centre on Retirement Investments (NICRI) strongly recommends you also confirm with any relevant government department details in relation to your personal circumstances.