How to save money on your loan, bank charges, and household bills

A recent phone call – which I had rejected for months – just got me $ 400 a month.

No, I haven’t been drawn into a thinly veiled pyramid scheme selling vitamins to Facebook friends. I just called the bank and renegotiated the interest rate on our mortgage.

I put it off because I feel like finance is not my area of ​​expertise – and I thought it would be complicated. But eventually I bit the ball and made the call which was a lot easier than I expected and had a great result.

It made me wonder: what other tedious administrative tasks do I avoid that cost me money?

Several, it turns out. And I am not alone.

“Every year, set up direct debit for general household expenses – electricity, telecommunications and other utilities – and check what you’re paying at the same time,” writes Josie Sargent.(Provided: Josie Sargent)

it shouldn’t be hard

Financial planner Olivia Maragna says people lose thousands of dollars through procrastination.

“Grab a weekend coffee – or a wine – and take a minute to review your finances each year,” she says.

“Don’t be bamboozled by the financial world… People think it’s too hard, but if you just jump on the phone and say, ‘I’m not happy, what can you do? “You will be surprised.”

Dr Di Johnson is a lecturer at Griffith University Business School and says avoiding finances is similar to observed behavior towards things like exercise and health.

“But bite into small pieces, be realistic, and even get together with friends to talk about money – just like exercise, you’ll be more likely to follow along if you do it with a friend.”

While there are hundreds of ways consumers can save money, here are four solid ones to review each year that have the potential to save you thousands of dollars with just one phone call.

Banks: check your fees and rationalize them

Start by actually opening your bank statement – which for most of us is now online.

“Check if you are paying fees on your checking account and if you are paying interest on your credit card [due to missed payments], says Ms. Maragna.

If you’re paying a fee, call the bank and discuss your options for upgrading to low-fee or no-fee accounts.

“Quick storage can make a big difference.”

“If you didn’t know you were charged a fee, call the bank and say you didn’t know… and ask them to waive it,” she says.

With your credit card: “If you missed a payment because of insufficient funds – or if you forgot it – call your bank and say, ‘Can I get the interest charges waived?’ Sometimes they forgo back-dated charges for months.

“It’s worth it, even if it’s 100% your fault… It can save you up to $ 50 a month depending on your credit card debt. “

Credits: get the best possible deal

Again, most people don’t get paper loan statements, whether it’s a mortgage or a car loan.

“Print it out,” advises Ms. Maragna. “At the very bottom you will see the interest rate. For a home loan, if it is more than two low (as a percentage), you are probably paying too much and it’s time to call your bank and ask for a better one. offer. “

And there is a trick.

“When you call and get the automated telephone answering system, say ‘exit the bank,’ she says. “They connect you with a customer retention team and their goal is to keep you.

“It also works for things like telecoms and electricity – if there is something that says you are considering moving your service, all their job is not to lose you as a customer.”

But before you call, Dr Johnson says to “do some checking to see what other lenders are doing, as well as check your bank’s exit fees and what they are offering new customers. That gives you a bit. of ammunition “.

While you’re unlikely to go through a long T&C document, she says you should at least look at the compare rate versus the “headline” rate.

“The compare rate takes into account all associated fees and charges, so this is a quick guide,” says Dr Johnson.

“While it can be relatively quick to strike a new deal if your lender is happy to come to the party, be aware that refinancing takes a lot of legwork – and paperwork. Have realistic expectations, but don’t be discouraged to try. This can save thousands, if not tens of thousands, over the life of your loan. “

Super: make sure you get it

Your payslip may show that the superannuation has been paid, but that does not mean that your employer is actually depositing the money in your account.

“Once a year, compare the contributions in your super account with those in your payslip,” explains Ms. Maragna.

There are billions of dollars in bad debt in Australia, she says.

“Research shows that most people will never turn to their employer because they don’t want to put their job at risk,” says Ms. Maragna.

“Check first that this is not an error, but you can also report it directly to the Australian tax office.

“Great, it’s your money and you have to care whether you’re 19, 39 or 69. If an employer didn’t pay your salary, you would care, and so should be with super.”

Domestic invoices

Every year, set up a direct debit for your general household expenses – electricity, telecommunications, and other utilities – and check what you’re paying at the same time.

“For home internet, when it comes to data, you pay more for less every year if you don’t call them,” Ms. Maragna warns.

“For the electricity, just call up and say, ‘I saw that deal over there, what can you guys do?’ and usually they will match it. You can save three, four, or five hundred dollars a year just by doing this – or potentially thousands a year in your pocket. “

“Just ask,” Ms. Maragana says. “I tell my clients all the time.”

This article contains general information only. You should consider obtaining independent professional advice based on your particular situation.

Josie Sargent is a producer at ABC Gold Coast and a freelance writer and writer.

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Bernadine J. Perkins