Reviewing the Bills in 2020: Saving Money

Once a year we take a long, hard look at our bills and review them to figure out if we are paying too much money.

We ask ourselves, ‘Could we get a better deal?’

Last year we were able to save a massive $2,333 p/a, the year before that an even bigger $2,846.

I was unsure if there was going to be much difference after reviewing our bills this year. After all, was it possible to continue reducing our bills by over $2K for the third year in a row?

Nonetheless, it was still worth a try even if the amount saved wasn’t going to be as eye popping.

(We re-assess our bills every winter, as we figure we’ll be inside anyway as the daylight hours are short and it’s cold outside.)

Electricity & Gas

Reviewing these bills would seem complicated, however thanks to a couple of excellent Australian government comparison sites – it’s super easy.

For those in my home state, use the Victorian Energy Comparison Compare site. If you live in QLD, SA, ACT, NSW or Tassie, use the Energy Made Easy government website. (Sorry WA & NT, you’ll have to find your own way.)

Before you begin, you’ll need a copy of your latest electricity bill in full. What you’ll be looking for is your NMI (national metering identifier). If you can locate this number, comparing energy providers is even easier as the website can upload your current details.

On your gas bill, look for the gas bill period – it’s the start date and the end date of the bill. Then look for your average daily usage in MJ. On our bills this information is found on the front page.

Use the same website for both electricity comparisons and gas provider estimations.

After using the website to grab a comparison to find the best deal for our situation, I figured out we were already on the best deal.

Two years ago we found a better deal and rang our energy provider to say we were disconnecting from their service, and rather than lose our business – they matched the deal from the other company.

Turns out that deal is still pretty damn good.

I did find another electricity provider that seemed cheaper at first. They were offering a 84.91 daily supply charge, when we currently pay 95.92. Over a year, changing companies would result in a $40 saving.

But then I read the details and the cheaper provider had a $39 annual membership fee. Sneaky!

Heating

This one is an odd one. Last year we spent over $700 on gas to heat our house. It’s an old house with high ceilings and it takes quite a bit to keep it warm.

At the beginning of this year, in summer, we purchased an old wood heater from a work shed. Mr Hack pulled it apart and sanded and re-sprayed it to make it look like new again. (He did a fabulous job – so fabulous that a visitor thought the wood heater was new!)

And then Mr Hack struck a great deal. He has free access to wood on the farm of an elderly widow, as long as what he cuts for us, he cuts and splits the same amount for the widow.

We now have the unusual scenario of having paid too much money on our gas bill as we rarely use gas to heat the house anymore. Although, there has been the odd occasion when we get home from work and it’s cold and dark outside and it’s so much easier to press a button for heat than it is to light a fire.

WiFi

Argh, it shouldn’t be so difficult!

The problem with our WiFi is my email address is attached to the ISP plan and changing my WiFi provider means changing my email address.

So far I’ve counted 56 contacts I’d need to update with a change of email. It’s really quite daunting. Everything from occupation specific emails, this blog, social media accounts, banking, insurances, investing, service providers, government, sporting, shopping and health would need updating.

A friend pointed out that once I change my email address, I’ll never be ‘hostage’ to a WiFi provider again. It’s the silver lining to our internet cloud.

At the moment we pay $80 per month for unlimited internet, plus a $2.20 non-direct debit fee. (That’s a whole other story about me refusing to hand over that kind of control to a service provider and demanding to have the charge removed. Citing a willingness to contact the telecommunications ombudsman helped for about a year.)

We also used to pay an extra $2.20 for a paper bill until we wisened up and requested email bills.

Since starting our annual bills review, I did a half-hearted search for a cheaper WiFi provider and found one that is only $65 per month for unlimited data, multiple users and a free modem. They also seem to have a good reputation.

Looks like my email nightmare is about to begin.

On a completely random track: did you know WiFi is an Australian invention.

Mobile Phone

I honestly didn’t think we could save any more money on our mobile phone bills.

We had already gone pre-paid by not renewing our expensive contracts and when Mr Hack needed a new phone he purchased what he could afford upfront.

Then I started to look into our data usage.

I logged into my mobile account and was surprised that my data usage for the month was under 1 GB. Further investigation showed a similar pattern for the last six months. My guess is it’s because I rarely browse on my phone when not home, and if home I’m connected to the home WiFi.

I’m currently on a $25 per month pre-paid plan through Aldi Mobile which includes 18 GB data and unlimited phone calls and text messages. We are really happy with Aldi Mobile as our telco provider. They use the Telstra mobile towers so our coverage is really good.

After looking into my data usage and my current plan, I realised I was way oversubscribed as I did not need 18 GB of data each month when I’m using less than 1 GB of data.

The next cheapest plan with Aldi Mobile is $15 per month for 3 GB data and the same unlimited calls and text messages. I am definitely going for the cheaper deal – making a savings of $10 per month.

Although, I do recognise there may be times that I need more data, such as an extended hospital stay for my son with a heart condition. If that scenario happens again, it’s a simple matter of purchasing the $25 plan.

I had Mr Hack look into his data usage and it turns out he does use over 3 GB of data a month. He loves to stream music when working in the shed and as it gives him much joy, paying for the $25 deal makes sense.

Campervan Insurance

I seem to go around in circles trying to find insurance quotes for a campervan made in 1986.

I’d almost consider it impossible, apart from the fact we already have an insurer.

At the moment, I feel like I’m wasting time and getting thoroughly frustrated trying to find a better deal. So unless, you the reader can point me in the right direction – we are staying with our current insurance provider.

Car Insurance

Thankfully, comparing quotes for car insurance is easier yet complex. Clear as mud?

With an awareness that ‘new customers’ often get a 15% discount on their first year, I started trawling the web for comparison websites.

My car is seven years old and I’m quite specific that I want an agreed value of the car on my comprehensive insurance, not just whatever the insurance company deems to be market value.

Other parameters I set when seeking a quote is a higher excess (the amount you pay if in an accident). A higher excess results in a lower premium (the amount you pay every year to the insurance provider).

I figure the premium gets paid annually so I want it to be as low as possible, whilst the excess is only paid in the event of an accident – which will, fingers crossed, never happen.

If the unthinkable happens, we’ll have plenty of money in our emergency fund to cover the excess.

A comparison search shows that I’m still on the most suitable deal.

We then turned our attention to Mr Hack’s third party property insurance on his older car.

It was an ‘Oh sh*t’ moment as we discovered he hadn’t renewed his car insurance!

Plus a moment of contemplation that if he had crashed into an expensive sport’s car that we’d loose all the financial gains we’d recently made. Thankfully, Mr Hack was not involved in any road accidents.

It’s now almost 9pm and he is quickly scrambling to get another insurance policy up and running!

Emergency Fund

We currently have our emergency fund sitting in a standard savings account.

The amount isn’t enormous and can just about cover one month of living expenses. Our goal is to have one year of expenses saved as an emergency fund by the time we reach FIRE (financial independence retire early).

The current interest on our savings account is 0.10%. Surely, we could do better.

The best deal I can find for our smallish amount of money is a term deposit at UBank with an interest rate of 1.15%.

This gives us a profit of $58 over 12 months all for the hassle of a little online paperwork.

Summary of Savings

This year we were able to make savings in our heating, WiFi and mobile phone bills. Plus, we’re able to gain a little extra income by putting our emergency fund into a term deposit.

Whilst we haven’t made the eye popping savings as previous years, it’s still been a useful process to work through and results in a total savings of $1,026.

Out of curiosity, I put the $1,000 per year through a compound interest calculator at 8% interest for 10 years and the end result was $16,645! (The 8% is based on the average return of the stock market.)

Every saving helps to make your financial future more sustainable.

Savings for the year
Heating$700
WiFi$206
Mobile Phone$120
Total$1,026
Plus an extra $58 earned on a new term deposit.

Are there any savings you can make on your bills? Share your money hacks by scrolling below to the comments section.

Cash Hippy

I'm an everyday person on a journey to save money and care for the environment at the same.

4 thoughts on “Reviewing the Bills in 2020: Saving Money

  • August 1, 2020 at 3:50 am
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    Interesting.
    This is something I should do. I’ve been with RACV for over 20 years…

    Reply
    • August 1, 2020 at 7:00 am
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      It could end up being very surprising once you shop around!

      Reply
  • August 1, 2020 at 3:58 pm
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    I went from $30 per month on my mobile bill to $150 a year via a prepaid 365 day plan with more data than I had before (80gb for the new plan, which is plenty). So pleased and definitely worth periodically reviewing!

    I have the email linked to my ISP problem too … the changeover hassle, with bills, friends and school correspondence seems too confronting to contemplate.

    Reply
    • August 1, 2020 at 4:10 pm
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      Wow! Your current mobile plan is only $12.50 per month! That’s so awesome.
      Changing emails is definitely a big hassle, but hopefully this will be the only time 😞

      Reply

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