066: 7 Steps To Save Thousands On Household Bills

Season #7 Episode #66

With the cost of living on the rise, a key way to save money is to compare shop your major household bills. In this episode, Mia and Dinah will help you get an understanding of the payoff to a methodical approach, seven steps to make your choices straightforward and point you to the best comparison websites.

Mia and Dinah start this episode talking about why you need to make the effort to comparison shop - not only to save money but also to give peace of mind that your product or service fits with your needs. They also chat about the frustration that most providers offer the best discounts and deals for new customers. This means you need to accept that you'll need to do the work if you want to save money.

How to save money on household bills with comparison shopping

They also talk about the challenges of finding the time and what comparison shopping is:

  • We have more products that we need to choose due to the privatisation of services like utilities
  • It can be complex to choose between the hundreds or thousands of products out there
  • 'Satisficing' - achieving a good result as fast as possible by choosing something sufficient that satisfies you - will yield a better result than trying to find the best possible deal.

Mia and Dinah also talk about the elephant in the room: making the time to get the comparison shopping done. They recommend you set up a regular Hour of Power in your schedule to get more complex life admin tasks done, including comparison shopping.

They talk through the seven steps that make choosing a better deal efficient and effective:

Take stock of your household bills

  • Jump onto your online account or review recent statements – to gain an understanding of your current plan, assess your usage and sense of value
  • If it's a product you're not that familiar with, listen to a Life Admin Life Hacks podcast episode or dive into the relevant book chapter, where they break down the jargon and the typical product features
  • Then think about what will make you happy. Is it saving $100 a year or $500?  Is it getting more convenient service in some way? Or simply peace of mind that you have the right product for your needs? Decide on the goalposts upfront so that you know when you’ve scored.

Set up your comparison table

  • The next step is to create a table to set out the criteria you need to compare
  • A comparison table makes it much simpler to pick the best offer, rather than tirelessly going through the features of each, one at a time
  • You can use one of the downloadable checklists from the Life Admin Life Hacks website or set up your own table.

Compare three of your providers

  • They recommend that you compare three options: your current provider and two others
  • There are diminishing returns if you compare beyond a handful of alternatives, and the more options you compare, the more confused and dissatisfied you will be
  • The key thing is to use the best comparison website to find the three offers to compare
  • Where possible, you want to use the government websites, so for PHI and energy that is usually your best bet
  • Choice, Canstar, Finder and Whistelout are the comparison sites Mia and Dinah recommend the most but in our book they recommend which sites are best for which service.

Make the 'keep me' call

  • Sometimes your current provider can offer you a better deal. When you’re armed with the details of what competitors are selling, calling your current provider may be all you need to do to save money
  • If your current provider comes to the party with a competitive offer this might be the last step

Call around

  • If your current provider can’t offer you a better deal and the alternative choice isn’t obvious, or there are complexities you want to check, you’ll want to call one or both of the competitors you identified in Step 3
  • We recommend you jot down a script to guide your chat
  • Try to call in when call centre queues are likely to be shorter - when they open, on evening or weekends.

Decide (and switch)

  • Go back to your goals and pick the offer that best meets them. There’s usually a clear winner
  • If you’re struggling to make the decision, it can help to think about what you would advise a friend.

Integrate and celebrate

  • You’ll need to integrate this new plan or provider into your life admin systems and tools
  • This includes things like updating your password manager, opting into paperless communication, direct debits and adding important documents to your cloud storage
  • Take time to celebrate your achievement.

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