Connect with us

Your Time Magazine

Now, more than ever, every cent counts

Features

Now, more than ever, every cent counts

We can all use some tips on how to save money and JANINE Hill has done her research on the easy ways to penny pinch and some little-known discounts available to seniors.

Everyone likes to save a dollar but the rising cost of living has made that a tough ask.

Research by National Seniors Australia (NSA) and investment management company Challenger last year found that 80 per cent of older Australians were feeling the effects of higher living costs, and that proportion was predicted to increase in the 12 months to follow.

Ninety per cent of the over-50s who responded to the survey were concerned about keeping up with the cost of living and a quarter were “extremely concerned”, the NSA states.

Health costs, energy prices and groceries were rated as the three  big worries.

Compare the Market’s David Koch says that although the inflation genie seems to be going back into its bottle, some unavoidable expenses continue to hurt Australian households.

“Many Australians will be seeing that inflation rose just 0.6 per cent to 4.1  per cent in the latest quarter, which is lower than the previous quarter’s 1.2 per cent hike and the smallest we’ve seen since March 2021,” Mr Koch says.

“However, there are still some key areas that are continuing to hurt the  hip pocket. Electricity costs, health costs and insurance aren’t really things Aussie households can avoid. So, while it’s great to see some areas like education, transport and household equipment come down, the reality is most Aussies are still going to be feeling the pinch with some everyday costs.”

Your Time went in search of tips to stretch your dollars further but first, here is one big one: do not be age proud.

Get a Seniors Card, a Seniors Business Card, or a Seniors +go Card if you are eligible and present it, even if you are unsure that a discount is available.

You never know until you ask.

Budgeting

Looking at how much money you have coming in and how much you are spending might be a good starting point.

The Simple Money Manager on the Services Australia website makes it easy to calculate what you should have left every week to put away.

Go to servicesaustralia.gov.au/how-to-budget?context=60271

Groceries

Choice (the public face of the Australian Consumers’ Association) says to avoid pre-prepared fruit and vegetables.

For example, it is cheaper to slice your own than buy sliced carrots.

Swap your favourite brand for a cheaper one. Choice has found that home brands can taste the same or better than more expensive ones.

Choice suggests buying ‘ugly’ produce. Fruit and vegetables with odd shapes or imperfections taste just the same but can cost less.

Swapping out-of-season fresh produce for frozen is usually cheaper, Choice says. Buying frozen also makes it easier to reduce wastage.

Stock up on staples when they are on sale. Stick to a shopping list and do not shop when you are hungry.

The beginning and the end of the day can be the best times to score marked-down perishables, Insider Guides says.

Seniors Card-holders can join Senior Shopper, which is powered by Union Shopper, to access savings on everything from groceries to white goods and movie tickets: qld.gov.au/seniors/legal-finance-concessions/seniors-card/senior-shopper

Bathroom and laundry

Choice checked 83 products – shampoos, cleaners, laundry products – and found refillables saved 32-38 per cent. So, re-use your spray bottles.

Do full loads of washing.

A laundry basket is 3.5kg and a washing machine can take much more, Choice laundry and white goods expert Ashley Iredale says.

Choice says that using just a third of the recommenced amount of  laundry detergent will still give excellent results and your detergent  will last three-times longer.

Wash in cold water. Warm is slightly better but the difference does not justify the cost, the organisation says.

Banking and superannuation

Look for a savings account that does not charge fees.

Services Australia says that if  you are still working but on a low income, you may be eligible for a government co-contribution to your superannuation of up to $500 if you  put in $1000 yourself.

If you are still working, you can also ask your employer to pay some of your pre-tax earnings (up to $27,5000 a year) into your superannuation account.

These concessional contributions are taxed at 15 per cent, which is lower than the marginal tax rate for most people.

Services Australia advises you can often save a little by choosing to get statements and bills by email rather than on paper.

Housing

Centrelink’s Home Equity Access Scheme might provide some relief if your budget is pushed to the brink.

The scheme allows Australians of age pension years or older to use the equity in their home as security for a loan to supplement their retirement income. Interest is payable at 3.95 per cent per annum.

The loan can be repaid in part or full at any time or after your death.

If you are a homeowner, make sure you collect any pensioner or seniors’ discount offered by your local council on rates (and pet registration).

Electricity and other services

Check if your electricity, reticulated gas or water supplier offers a pensioner or seniors discount. Unitywater, for example, offers a pensioner rebate of  $120 a year.

Washing the dishes before or after you have a shower means you will save on running water until it turns hot for the second activity, costing less for the water and electricity.

Compare the Market’s Chris Ford says to always read the fine print, as plans can be priced differently. Look for any discounts or conditions. Also:

  1. Look at the supply charge which could be higher than other retailers offering similar usage rates.
  2. Understand your tariffs as the cost for electricity could vary at different times of the day.
  3. If it has been more than a year since you switched plans, you may have defaulted to a higher price. So, look for a new deal.

Health

Mr Ford advises making the most of a health insurance policy if you have one.

If you are paying for inclusions that you do not use, consider switching to a lower tier that includes want you need but not what you do not. Also:

  1. Understand what medical professionals plan to charge for your treatment as they do not all charge the same. If you have health insurance, ask if your treating health professional will participate in your fund’s  no-gap scheme.
  2. Make the most of any concessions or rebates. You might be able to claim from your health fund for medication not on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

A seniors, pension or health care  card will get you a free pair of glasses every two years under the Spectacle Supply Scheme.

A seniors, pension or health care card means you can go to Queensland’s free public dental clinics.

Some gyms offer seniors’ discounts.

 Insurance

Mr Ford says to never accept an auto-renewal. Always compare.

Pay close attention to the sum insured, excess and any optional cover you may be able to do without. Also, consider opting for a higher excess to lower your premium. Ask your insurer if they offer a seniors’ discount.

Vehicles

Watch the fuel price cycle and keep your tank topped up when the cycle is in its low phase.

CHOICE recommends thinking about how you drive. Ease back on the accelerator and avoid harsh acceleration and braking. Also:

  1. Avoid driving when traffic is congested. An idling car uses 1-2 litres of fuel an hour. Turn the engine off if you pull up for a short time.
  2. Another tip from CHOICE: driving with the windows down is cheaper than using the air-conditioning unless you’re travelling at 80kmh or more, as drag becomes a factor.
  3. Keeping your tyres inflated at the correct pressure can reduce fuel use by about two per cent.
  4. Loading a vehicle to its maximum weight can use up to 24 per cent more fuel. Unload unnecessary items.

Other transport and travel

Queensland Seniors Card or pension card-holders are eligible for a discount  on vehicle, motorcycle, a motorised caravan and  boat registrations. The discount is  worth about $180 on rego for an  average vehicle.

Seniors Card +go, Seniors go card or green pensioner concession go card-holders who use a go card for two paid journeys in one day, travel free for the rest of the day.

Pension card-holders are eligible  for a 25 per cent discount, and Seniors Card-holders are eligible for a 50 per cent discount on full adult Queensland Rail long-distance fares. Seniors Business Card, National Seniors Australia card,  or a New Zealand Seniors card-holders are eligible for a 15 per cent discount on the same.

More in Features

To Top