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How to cut costs on essentials


Laine Gordon

By Laine Gordon

3 min read

Everyday essentials are just that — an essential part of your day-to-day life — but there are ways to keep them to a minimum.

The cost of living rose 2.3 percent from June 2013 to June this year for the Australian working masses, according to The Australian Bureau of Statistics. Some of the main contributors were the essentials — furnishings, household equipment and services.

But what could you be doing to rein back on the costs of your essentials?

Be smart at the supermarket

Missing out on an overseas getaway or monthly trips to the movies is hardly desirable. However, by cutting down on everyday expenses, being able to enjoy these non-essentials could well be possible.

Set yourself cost-cutting goals — as you meet each financial goal, reward yourself with a trip to the movies, meal out or put some money into a high-interest savings account for an overseas trip.

For starters, consider your supermarket spending. While big-brand items are familiar, budget supermarket products are often of equal quality. You can slash how much you spend on canned food, pasta, rice, milk, instant coffee, breakfast cereal, toilet paper and muesli bars by buying off-brand products or items on special. 

By buying on-brand products — particularly when they're not on special — you're effectively throwing money in the compost heap by paying a premium for fancy marketing.

Turn the ignition on cheaper insurance

Insuring your vehicle, home and personal belongings is a necessity, but that doesn't mean it won't hurt your wallet.

You'd complete a home loan comparison to get the best mortgage deal, so make sure you do the same for your ongoing insurance payments. If you get cover for everything from a single provider, you may be able to get an automatic discount on the overall cost.

If you think you're getting a mediocre deal with your current provider, call them and let them know you're prepared to switch to another insurance firm. You might strike a lucky note and get offered a discount if you stay. Otherwise, make the move!

Be selective where you shop

Have you run out of shampoo? The local pharmacy might be closer than the supermarket, but you'll pay a premium for the convenience. 

Meanwhile, you might plan to buy all your groceries at the supermarket, when your local fruit and vegetable shop offers a better deal on fresh produce. 

Check out your local butcher for meat deals, too.

Try and shop in bulk, but don't hesitate to shop around, either!

Compare, compare, compare!

It's the long-term essentials in our day to day lives, such as electricity, home loans and credit cards, that can have the biggest impact on our back pocket — so comparing lenders, companies and products could save you thousands.

Australia's credit card debt that is currently accruing interest is over $33 billion, according to RBA data. And while home loan interest rates are at an all-time low, if you aren't keeping your finger on the pulse you could be missing out on these record-low rates.

That's why it's important to go online, research which products and features will benefit you most, calculate your potential savings and then find a lender or company who can provide you with the greatest everyday savings. Then sit back and watch your essential costs drop.

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