Countdown to Christmas – How to Manage Cost of Living Pressures

The festive season already comes with its own monetary pressures and this year, with cost of living increases impacting so many households, we’re likely to feel the pinch even more.

Below are a few practical ideas to consider to help ease the financial burden and ensure the Christmas/New Year break is enjoyable and brings a prosperous start to the 2023 calendar year:

  • Interest Rates –If you are not already on a fixed rate, it may be worth considering fixing your home loan or part thereof as soon as possible.  This could help mitigate any future rate rises and ensure some certainty around monthly mortgage commitments. There appears to be no respite in sight regarding the current inflation numbers nor a slowdown in interest rate increases in the near future. 
  • Loan consolidation – if you have personal loans or multiple credit cards, you may like to look at consolidating these debts in order to reduce the monthly repayments that may be required from multiple banks and credit institutions.
  • Cashing in credit/loyalty card points – a good practice to get into if you have credit cards or loyalty cards that earn points is to let them build up during the year and redeem them in December.

You may be able to redeem them for cash back onto your credit card which you can then use to purchase Christmas presents or Christmas party supplies.  If you can’t redeem for cash you may be able to redeem the points to buy gifts for Christmas through the respective awards program. Choosing rewards programs that offer vouchers or discounts for the things you actually spend money on can be effective.

  • Everyday utility and living costs such as electricity/gas, fuel, insurances and phone/internet should be reviewed regularly to ensure you are paying the best price possible.

Fuel – with the current global uncertainties the cost of fuel is remaining high. There are a number of fuel comparison websites and apps available such as Petrol Spy Australia  and Fuel Map Australia

Checking these sites before you fill up can help ensure you get the best price available and can maximise any loyalty discounts you have.  Ensure you are looking at petrol stations that are on your usual route so you aren’t going out of your way to chase an extra 2 cents as any additional savings may be lost.

Electricity/Gas – Use the Australian Government website Energy Made Easy to compare Energy plans to determine whether your current plan is the most economical for you.

Phone and Internet – where you are not currently locked in to a mobile phone and/or internet contract, you should review the current plans available across providers in your area to ensure you are getting the best deal available.  Savings can be considerable, especially if it’s been a few years since you reviewed your monthly outgoings.

Insurances – whether it is home, car or private health insurance, you should ensure you are reviewing your premium renewals on an annual basis to ensure any savings can be made.  Often you won’t need to move from your existing insurer, you may be able to do a comparable online quote with another provider and then contact your existing insurer to see if they will beat or at least match the price.  Savings of hundreds of dollars can be made each year with a simple phone call to your existing insurer to ask the question.

Private health insurance policies should be reviewed annually to ensure you are covered for the items you need and are not paying for procedures you won’t require or are unlikely to require at your current stage of life e.g. pregnancy cover for someone in their 60’s or hip replacement cover for someone in their 20’s.

As with any of the suggestions above, some time and effort will be required in relation to comparing plans or calling existing providers, but the savings could be significant and with the festive season approaching and the current cost of living pressures, any money saved is helpful.

If you need assistance in relation to preparing a family budget for the year ahead, there are lots of tools available to assist so please speak to your local Accru advisor.

About the Author
Melissa McCrystal , Accru Rawsons Brisbane
Melissa is known for her personal and direct approach, working closely with clients to ensure all parts of their business are managed effectively. She has been integral to improving the firm’s business management as well as nurturing relationships with clients and associates.
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