Take Control of your Money
A household audit compares your existing household utilities and other outgoing expenses to ensure you aren’t overpaying on electricity, gas, broadband, online subscriptions and more.
At this early stage of organising your finances, a household audit is also a valuable savings tool allowing you to reduce your outgoing expenses and increase the available money you can put towards an emergency fund, reducing debt or topping up your super.
What to audit
Switching your energy to a better offer can be easy. The majority of electricity retailers across Australia will allow you to both cancel and sign-up for a plan using their website and online customer portal.
To make sure that you’ll actually be getting a better deal, it can be a good idea wait at least three months with your existing provider to compare costs. Three months is usually how regularly energy distributors read your individual electricity meter, which will give you an accurate idea of your usage and costs.
Depending on your agreement, it's often possible to switch energy providers whenever you choose, so if you find a great deal offered by a competitor, you can generally have your electricity and gas switched overnight.
First, take a look at the subscription services you have and their payment dates. If you have more than one subscription for the same type of service (e.g. Netflix and Amazon Prime) then consider cutting back to just the one you like the most.
The same goes when looking at the available plans. If you’re paying for a more expensive or premium plan than you need to, cut back to a cheaper one, even if it’s temporary.
Lastly, take note of all the ‘essential’ services you feel you can’t live without. Even if you don’t cancel these, you can still potentially find ways to save money by including them with other product offers below, such as broadband.
The general costs of broadband have come down over the years. You’re unlikely to find a plan that doesn’t include unlimited bandwidth, and broadband providers have found creative ways to bundle together benefits and discounts on other services.
When you’re comparing broadband offers, what you’ll be looking at is the compared cost of all the included benefits.
For example, you might find that some plans include subscription services, or offer discounts on your mobile phone if it’s on the same network as your broadband provider.
A major consideration of who you sign up with on a phone plan is how you actually use your phone in your daily life.
Take service coverage, for example. This is essentially how reliable your connection to the network will be. If you’re living in the city, this isn’t such a massive deal, but if you’re living in a rural area and depend on the cellphone network for business or just daily life, there might be more to consider than just the cost.
Another major aspect to compare here is the use of data. For example, if you're connected to WiFi a lot of the time, you might consider a plan with a lower mobile data allowance.
It’s important to regularly review your level of cover when you plan to make significant changes in your life, such as when you buy a vehicle or when you’re planning to start a family.
However, it’s also worthwhile reviewing your policy regularly to ensure that the amount of cover is appropriate (and that you’re not under or over-insured) and that the premiums you are paying to maintain the cover are still good value for money.
Car insurance, health insurance, life insurance, business insurance, and even pet insurance can become costly or redundant if they aren’t suitable for your current situation.
If you are planning to change your insurance, just make sure you get appropriate new cover in place before cancelling current cover.
We talk more about insurance and getting covered in the next steps.
Important information: Any advice or information on this site is of a general nature only and has not taken into account your personal objectives, financial situation and needs. Because of that, before acting on the advice, you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your personal objectives, financial situation, and needs. Helen Baker is an Authorised Representative(s) of Godfrey Pembroke Group Pty Ltd ABN 38 078 629 973, AFSL number 245451, an Australian Financial Services Licensee, with offices at The Bond, Level 3, 30 Hickson Road, Millers Point NSW 2000.