Seven easy steps to scoring yourself a better deal

Are you paying too much for your electricity? Your mortgage? Your phone bill?

When it comes to everyday household expenses like these, the market is flooded with opportunity and choice, and it’s the savviest of shoppers who tend to come out ahead of the rest and save the most money.

Check out our list below of seven easy steps on how you too can score yourself a better deal and hold on to more of your hard-earned cash.

  1. Do your homework

This one is key. On every account, every bill and every expense, it’s imperative that you do your homework. Large service providers like electricity companies prey on the apathy of consumers, and will try to get as much money as they can from customers often for the smallest level of service.

Remember, theirs is a business just like any other, and their ultimatum is profit, so you cannot rely on them to offer you the best deal straight off the bat.

For example each year, you should review your electricity expenses and usage rates to help identify any patterns and or opportunities for savings. Many Australian’s have saved money by using their household appliances, like their washing machine, during off-peak periods.

To find out more about how energy usage is calculated and how to understand your bills, visit the Australian Government’s Energy Made Easy webpage.

  1. Negotiate smart and with a smile

 Many people still subscribe to the fallacy that in order to successfully negotiate, you need to go in guns blazing and make stern demands. This is simply not the case.

The most effective way to conduct a negotiation is to ensure that you have done all of your research, and maintain a demeanour that is positive yet enquiring.

When it comes to negotiating property, finding out why the vendor is selling puts you in the best position to negotiate them down to the price you want. A few options in your arsenal are:

– the Section 27 deposit release (which allows Victorian vendors to access deposit funds early)

– a short settlement period

– a rent-free period

– a request to include the furniture for a (small!) price.

  1. Call your bank tomorrow

 For most people, their mortgage is the biggest investment they will make in their lives, so you want to make sure that you are receiving the best deal possible.

The first step is to pick up the phone and make the call. Ask for a better interest rate, and be prepared to leave if your expectations are not met assuming you know with certainty (get it in writing people!) that you can get a better deal elsewhere.

This can be intimidating for some, and let’s not forget that the people you will speak to are trained to say no! If you feel like you need extra support, consider speaking to a Mortgage Broker to do the hard work for you. They represent you, not the bank’s shareholders.

  1. Small fees can add up

 We can’t stress this one enough! While it might look like pocket change on your monthly statements, your super fund fees can slowly but surely erode the performance of your hard earned retirement savings.

It’s important to make time to regularly review your super funds expenses, especially if you have a Self-Managed Fund, because even something as seemingly small, such as half a percent, can make an enormous difference when spread out over a lifetime.

  1. There are no-fee options at your fingertips

One of the main reasons our banks are making such enormous profits are the small fees they charge along the way. Just think of the insidious monthly account and ATM fees!

But with the introduction of no-fee and high interest bank accounts from new entrants like ING Direct, you could immediately save money for the exact same services.

  1. Get unnecessary fees removed

Many different types of insurances come with certain circumstantial premiums that raise the overall cost to the consumer. For example, when people take out life insurance, they may face loaded premiums due to a pre-existing medical condition. However, what many people do not know is that often these premiums need not apply for a lifetime.

All you need to do is call your insurance broker and ask if yours can be removed – simple! While this may not always be possible, it’s certainly worth a phone call to find out. You could find yourself saving thousands with a small amount of effort.

  1. Threaten to leave

If you threaten to leave your service provider and take your business elsewhere you are likely to see your service provider scamper to offer you a better deal.

Companies like Foxtel may offer you a more extensive range of channels for the same price, or they might even offer you a discount off your monthly subscription just to keep your business.

And the end of the day, all service providers know that it is easier to keep a customer than it is to convert a new customer.

Happy bargain hunting!