Finance Your Budget This mum shopped around for bargains and saved big. You can, too.

This mum shopped around for bargains and saved big. You can, too.

Dedicating a couple of hours to shopping around for better deals on household expenses can unlock hundreds of dollars in monthly savings. Photo: TND
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New research shows Australians saved an average of $385 a year by changing health insurance policies in 2020.

Conducted by price comparison website Compare Club, the analysis based on 60,000 customers also found that households who switched energy providers saved an average of $219 a year.

It’s just the latest reminder of the importance of shopping around for a better deal – particularly during the worst recession in almost 90 years.

Mother-of-three Jen Blackmore, 34, was inspired to overhaul her family budget after giving birth to identical twins in April.

And a 300 per cent hike in her energy bill forced her to move.

Jen Blackmore (R) was worried about spiralling monthly bills after her household’s income was slashed. Photo: Supplied

“Our electricity bill came in for the quarter, and it was $600 – triple what we paid last quarter – so I was concerned at how we would continue to pay these inflated costs,” Ms Blackmore told The New Daily. 

She said the enormous expense prompted her to “knuckle down”, as her family’s consumption would remain high with her husband working from home and her newborns requiring more heating over winter.

After switching her energy and water providers, installing new insulation and roller shutters, and practising new energy-efficient habits, she cast her eye to solar panels.

Ms Blackmore expects the cost of the solar panels to be entirely offset within the next 12 months, helped by state-level subsidies and interest-free loans.

“I realised they were the best things moving forward, and I’ve been told by my solar panel company they essentially pay themselves off within a year,” she said.

Ms Blackmore also cancelled streaming subscriptions, changed mobile phone plans, and reduced her home and car loan rates. And she estimates her family is saving $300 every month as a result.

While she’s mostly setting aside those savings for rainy-day expenses and small trips around Victoria, she hopes her household’s new regime may eventually pay for her dream: Owning a camper van without a loan.

“We worked out how to save money when we were on a lower income, and now that my husband’s salary is returning to where it originally was, it can only get better from here,” Ms Blackmore said.

Compare Club CEO and founder Andrew Davis said investing a small amount of time switching providers could deliver massive benefits to families.

Mr Davis said there was a “false perception” that brand loyalty was rewarded and those who shopped around would face costly penalties, such as early termination fees.

He also pointed out that customers could be paying more for outdated needs, particularly on health insurance.

“If you have a child that needs braces and therefore needs orthodontic cover, that’s worthwhile because you get a benefit from it, but once that moment passes, you’re throwing good money away,” Mr Davis told The New Daily. 

In terms of tackling monthly expenses, he said families should start by focusing on their most expensive payments, such as their mortgage, car loan and insurance.

Households should then look at their energy, broadband and mobile phone services, he said.

“If people can draw a line under the year that’s been and want to start the new year on a stronger financial footing, this is a really simple and practical thing to do,” Mr Davis said.

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