Finance Your Budget Advisor: how lazy consumers can save money
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Advisor: how lazy consumers can save money

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Take a look at your bank account. There should be more money in there right? Well, what if the reason you’re losing out on money is your fault?

Consumers are notoriously lazy – a factor many companies count on.

That means we could be saving hundreds, or even thousands, if we are a little more involved with contracts for utilities, mobile phones and bank accounts, according to Tom Godfrey, the spokesperson for Choice.

A recent Australian consumer study from Longeran Research, which was commissioned by Amaysim, found that 40 per cent of respondents were not renewing contracts they knew would save them money.

Mr Godfrey says confusing contract jargon leads consumers to give up and no longer make an effort to find savings.

“The last thing consumers need to do is wade through pages and pages and pages of fine print, to find the details they need to be able to compare a policy, or a service provider,” he says.

“The best thing to do is inform yourself.”

Likewise, Robbie Reid, financial planner with RK Financial Planning, says significant savings can be made from simple awareness and phone calls.

Here’s how to save…

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Avoid the lazy-tax: don’t auto-renew

Don’t auto-renew, and keep up-to-date with information from various industries to find the best deals.

“Consumers often get slapped with a lazy-tax, where they auto-renew, and we would actively encourage people not to auto-renew,” Mr Godfrey says.

“When you get a renewal notice that should be a call to arms.

“Don’t just assume that the company is going to mail you out the best deal available, they won’t do that.”

Both Mr Godfrey and Mr Reid say the most crucial component to saving is to pick up the phone and know your options.

Commercial switching services risky?

One potential danger for consumers looking to save is in commercial switching service sites, according to Mr Reid.

He alleges some comparison sites are backed by the big commercial companies in their sector, meaning they are not completely independent.

This is particularly a problem in the insurance and health insurance industries, Mr Reid says.

“Some of these commercial switching services don’t provide you with a complete picture of how the market is,” he says.

The best weapon against this type of bait switching service is information, so go directly to the provider to check quotes.

Hot tips to save on your bills

Internet and phone bills

Wading through contracts to find an internet or mobile provider can be a daunting task, especially with the number of emerging carriers in Australia.

Shop around: before renewing, get as much information as you can of what other providers offer.
Monitor: take note of your monthly usage and see if your current plan is too much or too little for the amount of data you use.
Call:  telco companies are going to be investigated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on excessive SMS overage fees and data, so take advantage and go to your provider and demand lower rates or you’ll leave.

• Click on the owl for tips on how to keep your data use down.  

More shocks: Territory business owners say they have no choice but to pass on the latest power price rises to customers.

Utilities

If it’s one cent, or one dollar, the savings all add up when it comes to utilities.

Monitor: take note of your daily usage and see how much energy you’re using and find areas to cut costs.
Ask: check with your provider what they offer for consumers looking to install more energy efficient household items.

Banks, Credit Cards and Insurance

Shop around: compare different companies online and by talking to experts to find the best deal; find the best rates, coverage and fees.
Insurance: make sure you get the coverage you need for your current lifestyle, being under or over-covered will cost you money.

There are a multitude of cost saving measures you can take and be a pro-active consumer, not a lazy one. So don’t let the companies take advantage of you anymore and make the move to bring the power back to your pocket books.

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