Weirdest ways to save thousands this year
WHEN Gwyneth Paltrow and husband Chris Martin announced a "conscious uncoupling", they were referring to their marriage, not their health insurance.
But consciously uncoupling your joint health policy can save a stack of money and you don't have to end a relationship to do so, Comparethemarket.com.au spokeswoman Abigail Koch explained.
"If you have private health and are having a family, upgrading your couples policy to top cover can be expensive, because the male does not actually need things like the obstetrics cover," Ms Koch said. "You could save as much as $1000 a year by having the male take basic cover and the female take the top cover with obstetrics."
The tip is just one of a number of lesser known ways Australians could potentially save thousands of dollars a year.
Another is spending less time behind the wheel, with a comparethemarket.com.au analysis finding consumers could save $180 a year by driving 9000km rather than 25,000km.
"Less time on the road equals less likely to claim so insurers offer better priced policies," Ms Koch said.
Those planning trips away can save in different ways using travel insurance. First, check if your policy includes car rental excess.
"They always encourage you to take out (the excess) when renting a car, but a lot of travel insurance policies include that cover," Ms Koch said, adding that if you are travelling with a group of 10 or more people you could save up to $120 with a group policy.
"It can be a lot cheaper, but there needs to be at least 10 of you and you need to be going to the same place," she said.
International fees on credit cards area trap that many are unaware of.
"If you do shopping online, even on websites that seem Australian, you can look on your credit card statement and find you've been charged an international transaction fee as well as currency conversion," Ms Koch said. "They're only a few dollars at a time but they all add up."
Everyday savings can be made by monitoring petrol price cycles and filling up when fuel is cheapest rather than when the tank is empty, while choosing energy plans based on the lowest rates for kilowatts per hour (kWh), rather than other discounts can make a huge difference for mainland Australians (Tasmania has just one energy provider).
"Retailers promote discounts, but it doesn't mean much until you know the rate," Ms Koch said. "There's a huge disparity in prices, so if you get a well-priced plan, then a discount on top, that's when you'll notice the difference."
Finally, Comparethemarket.com.au looked at a $500,000 mortgage at 3.99 per cent interest over 30 years and found a simple tweak to repayment frequency could save a huge sum over time.
"By switching from monthly to fortnightly mortgage repayments, you can pay an extra $2000 a year," Ms Koch said. "(This) will cut your interest payments by a total of $56,000 … and also shave about four years from your actual repayments."
Once you have made your savings, Omniwealth financial planner Steven Korner said it is important to protect them.
"Australians will not hesitate to insure their car but will not insure themselves," Mr Korner said. "Ensure you have appropriate levels of personal insurance in place, such as life and income protection, to protect yourself and your family in the event of unexpected injury or illness."