Money Saving Tips

Simple Ways To Reduce Heating And Cooling Costs

If you’re tired of paying massive sums of money for heating and cooling costs  you’ve come to the right place. I’ve tried and tested these simple techniques and they really work. As an example last quarter we literally saved a couple of hundred dollars on our usual $500 plus electricity bill. It wasn’t difficult and anyone can do it.

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Shop around for service providers

One way I managed to save was by doing a bit of homework and swapping our utility retailer. Some online companies can do this for you but it’s probably best if you make comparisons yourself. Check daily service charges, peak and off peak times and rates plus fees and charges and any discounts which apply.

Many retailers offer discounts for customers who pay on time. These can be good for people who like to pay fortnightly or weekly to reduce their total bill but if you primarily look for these type of deals you could be missing out. Some companies tariffs are lower than the discounted rate anyway so check the actual figures. I was a bit hesitant to swap initially because I was used to getting the pay on time discount, however when I had a look at the costs it worked out less overall.

Don’t be too concerned if you’re in a contract either. Most gas and electrical contracts are easy to get out of and the cost of swapping is still going to save you in the long run.  Just be aware that the swap won’t go through immediately and it can take several months to take affect. Generally retailers need to wait until the next billing cycle before they hand over supply to another company. It’s just a matter of contacting a new retailer, signing up and they basically do the rest.

Window dressings

Exposed glass can significantly add to heating and cooling costs. In warmer weather glass heats up as the sun beats down upon it. Luckily, a lot of people know to leave their homes shut up in summer to reduce the heat entering their homes. However, many neglect to realise when it’s cold outside they should do the same thing. The warmth generated by heating within a home rapidly escapes though the glass and this adds to the cost of temperature control.

An easy way to reduce the cost is by shutting window dressings to trap the heat within during winter and to repel it in summer. Heavily backed curtains are probably the most effective option. Other dressings like blinds or venetians are better than nothing but are no way near as effective.

Another excellent option is window tinting. This stuff is awesome. It reduces glare, adds privacy, has see through and decorative options, protects the glass from breakage and successfully saves money on temperature control. Adding this layer to glass windows makes it harder for heat to escape in winter and penetrate in summer. Plus it’s not as expensive as you might think. Even people who rent can add this without permanently altering a property.

You can buy it in bulk and apply it to each window in the home, have it installed professionally or just purchase enough for problem windows which receive the most exposure. Some tinting products are very easy to apply and remove. It’s just a matter of cleaning the glass, spray it with a bit of soapy water, position it and cut it to size. Violã! It’s that easy.

Using fans to assist with circulation

Using fans costs a fraction of the price of air-conditioners. I’m talking pocket change instead of folded notes! One really nifty tip is to use a combination of fans and the air-conditioning. Even though you have two appliances running it will save you a small fortune if you set the air-con to a higher or lower temperature than required and use the fan.

For example in summer instead of setting the air-con to 22 set it to 23 and use a fan or two to circulate the air. This cools the air and assists the air-con to reach it’s desired temperature faster. It’s been claimed that for each degree difference you can save 10 percent on running costs. Therefore if you set the air-con to 25 instead of 22 you can save a whopping 30 percent. The same applies to setting temperatures in winter. I did this during summer and we saved about $250 on our regular summer electricity bill and temperature wise we didn’t feel the difference.

Nine fast tips

  • Most of these are tips are common sense and if you watch your heating and cooling usage you will notice the savings. Seriously why spend more on utility bills than you have to? Wouldn’t you rather go on a short holiday every year with the savings? I know I would!
  • Avoid heating and cooling unused spaces
  • Gas is cheaper to run than electricity so if you have an option chose the gas rather than use an electrical appliance
  • Avoid using high wattage appliances like small fan heaters unless you need to
  • In winter if you have a heater which uses wood, try and source wood for free. Network, check online for give-away wood and don’t be afraid of a bit of hard work to collect it. This will save a fortune!
  • Instead of heating bedrooms before bedtime, use an electric blanket. Flick it on half an hour prior and you’ll be toasty warm in seconds
  • If you use ducting shut off ducts to areas not in use. Close the vents or board them up more permanently if they aren’t necessary
  • Dress appropriately. Rather than wearing t-shirts around the home in winter and turn on the heating, wear more clothing. If your watching TV or on the computer use blankets instead of turning on the heat if you can avoid it. The same applies in summer. If you dress for the weather conditions this will save you money
  • If you’re home alone, you really only need to warm or cool yourself not the entire space
  • Instead of using heating or cooling appliances day and night only use them when you really need to. Many of us are very used to flicking on the air-con when really we’d be just as comfortable opening the windows or putting on a jumper. This is not only good for your finances but also saves the environment from all those nasties generated by using temperature control appliances

If anyone has anymore useful tips on saving on heating and cooling costs we’d love to here from you.

Image treedoctors.ca

May 25, 2015

How to Set and Cost Your Financial Goals

Get yourself in position to achieve your financial dreams in 2014 with these money saving tips from this extract from money mentor Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon’s new 12-Step Prosperity Plan.

Years ago, I heard a quote from supermodel Kate Moss that really stuck in my mind. When asked how she maintained her fabulous figure, she (more or less) replied: “It’s easy – you just have to want to be slim more than you want that piece of cheesecake, or that chocolate bar etcetera.”

The quote resonated with me because the same technique works for fabulous finances – it is easy to reach your longed-for money goals, you just have to want them more than you want those shoes, or that perfume etcetera.

I have a theory any of us is capable of spending any amount of money. I distinctly remember getting my very first pay cheque from my $24,000 a year job as a cadet journalist – and wondering how I was ever going to spend all that cash! Guess what? I managed it, and have been managing it ever since.

Think about how much, after tax, you currently earn a year (if you don’t know this figure, grab a calculator and multiply your after-tax weekly, fortnightly or monthly pay by 52, 26 or 12 respectively). Now, estimate how much you might have earned in your working life. What do you have to show for all this money?

If the answer is not much, there’s a fair chance you struggle to resist spending your whole pay packet. But here’s the thing – anything you manage to save now, you will get to spend later. In fact, this will ensure there is something left to spend later. It’s not about blanket denial but about deferred spending. And I’d venture you’ll enjoy more what you work for, and look forward to, anyway.

Top Tip Tute: Is micro-spending ruining your future?
Find out in my video.

So it’s time to start dreaming; I always say you need strong motivation to resist instant gratification. Busting out of debt, if you have any, should be your top money priority. But think too about the fun stuff you want in the short, medium and long term:

The next one to two years: 

For example, an overseas trip. Does a friend have an upcoming wedding in Thailand next year? Maybe you fancy a more expensive, longer sojourn the following year? (NEVER use credit for something for which you’ll have nothing to show afterwards but photos). On the sensible side, other goals during this timeframe might be to pay off a credit card and/or a personal loan.

The next three to five years: 

Is your car going to need replacing within this period? If so, you’ll need to start planning to meet the expense (NEVER borrowing for a depreciating asset, one that will fall in value). Or perhaps you would really like a new kitchen.

Five years and beyond:  

The ultimate goal – for all of us – should be to ensure by the time we retire that we have repaid at least our Very Bloody Bad Debts (my term for nasty personal debt that earns you no income) and that our income will be adequate when we stop work. Remember, the money employers are required to pay into your super fund is unlikely to be enough to sustain you for the whole of your retirement. So in this category you could include repay the mortgage and build a nice little nest egg.

Next, make a list like the following of these most-desired money goals. Write beside each one the date on which you would like to achieve it. Then put an estimate of what the goal will cost and how many pays there are until your target date. For example, if the target date is three years away and you are paid fortnightly, multiply 3 (years) x 26 (the number of fortnights a year). Finally, divide the cost by the number of pays to find the amount you have to put aside each pay.

Short-term goals (1-2 years)

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Medium-term goals (3-5 years)

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Longer-term goals (5 years+)

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Top Tip Tute: How can I stop micro-spending?

Scrimping and saving is not much fun but it can yield fantastic results. The trick is to make your goals specific and terrific: A trip to Fiji… A paid-off house by January 2020… Retirement five years before you can get at your super… Now that’s worth holding some back.

And make like Kate Moss and skip the cheesecake and you’ll find yourself in great shape, in more ways than one, earlier still.

This is an edited extract from Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon’s new 12-Step Prosperity Plan, available exclusively on TheMoneyMentorWay.com. Together with a fully-customisable prosperity tracking tool, it forms a money makeover system that is delivered 100 per cent online and accessible to all. 

Nicole is the founder of TheMoneyMentorWay.com and developer of the 12-Step Prosperity Plan, an achievable and even enjoyable blueprint to take Aussies from worry to wealthy. Nicole’s writing has earned her top personal finance awards in both the United Kingdom and Australia. Her career credits include founding and editing The Australian Financial Review’s Smart Investor magazine, and reporting and editing for the magazine arm of the UK’s Financial Times. Author, qualified financial adviser and Fairfax’s Money Matters columnist for the last decade, Nicole is a regular on television and radio. She talks money without the mumbo jumbo. Follow her on Twitter @NicolePedMcK.

January 23, 2014

5 Ways to Get Your Finances in Order (For Good!)

Most of us resolve to get our finances in order at the start of a new year (along with our diet, health, relationships…) but how many of us see that through? Well, maybe this is the year you take control and whip your finances into shape.

While growing your savings is no easy feat, a little bit of careful planning, teamed with a strategic budget, can go a long way towards helping you reach your financial goals in 2014 and beyond, whether that be paying off your credit card debt,  reducing your mortgage, or saving for a holiday or your first home.

Mortgage Choice spokesperson Jessica Darnbrough offers a few money saving tips and real-life pointers to help us stick to our financial goals this year.

1. Avoid unnecessary extras and costs
Evaluate your regular outgoings and identify any unnecessary costs which you can cut down or cut out. Cutting back on guilty pleasures like takeaway coffees, Friday night takeaway or premium television packages can lead to significant savings in the long term.

2. Think small when budgeting
Planning ahead with your finances for a full year can be daunting, and ultimately, ineffective. Instead, budget monthly or in accordance with the length of your pay period. This will allow you to amend your budget fairly quickly if you over overestimate or underestimate certain expenses.

3. Update your savings account
Research the benefits offered by savings accounts across various financial institutions. Switching banks and opening a new account with a lending institution that offers lower fees and higher interest rates will allow you to save more in less time.

4. Pay off and cancel your credit card
Credit card interest rates are notoriously high. Constant use without complete payment at the end of the month can lead to significant debt. Many people get stuck using a credit card and struggle to break the cycle as interest continues to accrue. Make paying off your credit card a priority early in the year, and cancel it as soon as possible. Debit cards are an ideal alternative, providing a similar level of protection for online and over the phone purchases, without the significant interest rates.

5. Compare to find a better deal
You may be paying more than is necessary on your home loan, insurances, utility bills, etc. Comparing your options via your mortgage broker or websites such as HelpMeChoose.com.au can help you find the best deal suited to your needs and save you money in the process.

For more budgeting tips and home loan options visit www.mortgagechoice.com.au.

What are your best money savings tips? Share them in the comments!

January 13, 2014

How to Save $6386 a Year by Getting Smart With Your Bills

My guess is you spend more time dwelling on your Facebook status than your financial one… planning your Pinterest board than your interest hoard…linking in than stopping money leaking out.

But it is. And the irony is that technology is making the flow faster.

A growing phenomenon I’ve dubbed Digitally Induced Laziness sees us blithely ignore all the automatic payments that come out of our accounts each month – allowing oh-so-convenient to become oh-so-conned.

Providers of everything from utilities to financial services rely on their bill-DIL existing customers to fund big discounts to entice new ones. You may even find your deal gets slowly worse.

Here is where you’re likely to be losing the most money.

Your mortgage

The big banks are exploiting your electronic inertia big time. The difference between the standard variable rate offered by the Big 4 and the most competitive mortgage on the market has swelled to a shocking 1.42 percentage points. Historically they’ve only skimmed 1 point or so off the top. Today you’ll pay 5.91 per cent versus just 4.49 per cent, which means you could save on the average $300,000 mortgage a massive $75,000 in interest.

Possible saving: $250 a month; $3000 a year. BUT it’s possible to take this total interest saving from $75,000 to $122,644 without paying an additional cent… you simply need to maintain your repayments at their existing level. This means you’ll also clear your debt more than five years early, after which your money is your own. And your big-bank lender may even agree to match this if you threaten to leave.

Your electricity

For all the talk about big increases in the price of electricity, and some areas have seen hikes of four times the rate of inflation in the past five years, you can actually make huge savings. A family can save a big chunk by moving to a better offer; you just need to be wary of contracts that commit you for a period of time as you may end up stuck on an increasingly uncompetitive deal.

Possible saving: $386 a year, says Market researcher Energy Watch.

Your insurances

You could probably be paying 15 per cent less on every single general insurance policy – think car, home and contents. The potential savings could be even higher with risk insurers like life or income protection providers, but because of age or health history it can be trickier to change. You could also save a truckload on your health insurance – and bear in mind that laws designed to keep health insurance competitive dictate that you do not have to re-serve waiting period for hospital cover.

Possible savings: More than $2000 a year.

Your telecommunications

New players are massively shaking things up when it comes to your mobile phone and your data plans. Look into signing up with a new provider as soon as you get off a phone contract; you’ll be stunned by the savings now on offer. Consider also bundling your internet into the deal to save a bucketload more.

Possible saving: Maybe $1000 a year (and that’s assuming you’ve already been tech savvy enough to get on to Voice-over Internet Protocol like Skype  for overseas calls).

Screen time of a different kind could yield big results if you’ve inadvertently become a bill DIL. In fact, swap Instagram for an hour a month for probably an instant grand.

Fess up – how much time do you spend each month dealing with your finances?

Nicole is the founder of TheMoneyMentorWay.com and developer of the 12-Step Prosperity Plan, an achievable and even enjoyable blueprint to take Aussies from worry to wealthy. Nicole’s writing has earned her top personal finance awards in both the United Kingdom and Australia. Her career credits include founding and editing The Australian Financial Review’s Smart Investor magazine, and reporting and editing for the magazine arm of the UK’s Financial Times. Author, qualified financial adviser and Fairfax’s Money Matters columnist for the last decade, Nicole is a regular on television and radio. She talks money without the mumbo jumbo. Follow her on Twitter at @NicolePedMcK.

September 30, 2013

Where Should my Savings Go?

From Get That Home Deposit by Peter Cerexhe.No, no, no! If there is one thing I can say to you with absolute passion, with almost violent intensity it is this: don?t leave your savings in your everyday bank account. The money will disappear as though taken by magic.

There are a number of mystical money rules:

  • When you put your car in for repairs the bill will always be more than the quote.
  • When the bank says its fees won?t be going up it will find other ways to charge you.
  • When your son or daughter says ?All I need is $50? it will not be all they need.
  • Junk food costs more than good food and takes longer to get.
  • When a restaurant bill is divided in equal proportions around the table, you will end up paying more than you ate.

And of particular relevance here:

  • Your bank account does not build savings, it devours them.

When I say ?bank? I?m really including most financial institutions, not just banks. And I?m not blaming them. These everyday transaction accounts give you, the customer, great freedom of action while keeping your money safe from robbers or from simply falling down the back of the couch. You can ask for your money at any time. Just go to an automatic teller or the branch; log on at the institution?s website or use phone banking to pay the bills and transfer money. Such freedom of access comes at a cost. I don?t expect an everyday bank account to actually make money for me.

And you can forget about the interest they pay you on your savings – it is almost nothing at present. Placing money in a daily banking account is not ?saving? it. It is the first step towards losing it.

In all probability the money will be spent on worthwhile, even important things like paying household bills or buying the heater you need with winter coming on.

I can see a worthwhile purchase every time I cross a shop floor. Indeed there have been many times when I have bought things at such great discounts that I have saved literally hundreds of dollars through astute shopping. But I?ve nearly gone broke saving money like this. A dollar spent is a dollar gone. Forever.

When I put money into my bank account I know I must get it out and invest it somewhere else fast or it will disappear.

From Get That Home Deposit by Peter Cerexhe ($19.95, Allen & Unwin).

Get That Home Deposit is a practical guide to raising a deposit to buy your own home in 2 years. Your own home. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Think how great it would be to come home to your own place at the end of the day and know that it’s yours.

If you’re after some sure-fire tips for reducing spending, and more importantly – increasing savings – don’t miss Get That Home Deposit.

Buy this book from the SheSaid Bookshop.

March 25, 2003