Sorting out your finances at the beginning of the year might feel like a futile task, particularly during a cost of living crisis.
But consumer advocacy group Choice has done some number crunching and says you might be able to save $7200 - depending on your circumstances and choices - just by making a few changes, and they don't all mean going without.
From switching health insurance provider to simply switching off devices at the power point instead of being left in "standby" mode, here's how you could leave more money in your pocket in 2024.
1. Turn your appliances off at the power point
Choosing appliances such as fridges and washing machines with high electricity and water consumption star ratings is well documented, but what about those sneaky appliances that slowly gobble up power in your sleep?
Simply switching off the modem, printer, TV, and other devices typically left in standby mode when they're not in use could save you hundreds of dollars.
Total possible savings: Up to $240 a year.
2. Switch your health insurance provider
Carefully assess what you actually need in cover - and even if you need it at all. The latter point might be a big bill for over 55s to consider, but Choice's handy quiz here might help you inform your decision.
If you do want to hang on to your health insurance, Choice advised to shop around as the same level of cover with a different insurer could be hundreds of dollars cheaper.
After comparing covers from 46 different health funds, Choice found:
- People with Gold policies could save up to $1730 a year by moving to a cheaper Gold policy.
- People with Silver policies could save up to $1170 a year.
- People with Bronze policies could save up to $860 a year.
Total possible savings: Up to $1730 a year.
3. Change the way you wash your clothes
You could save around $440 just by washing a full load with cold water combined with a cheaper, but top-performing, laundry detergent. This is compared with doing several smaller loads in warm water.
Want to save even more? Leave out the fabric softener and keep an extra $76 in your pocket, and use line drying instead of a dryer to save nearly $450.
Total possible savings: Up to $970 a year.
4. I'll have a cappuccino and a lemonade - at home - thanks
Who doesn't love a cafe coffee catch up or a refreshing and bubbly soft drink to reinvigorate us? But, the crema runs thin and the fizz dies down when you look at the cost compared with if you made them at home - and that's even after you've paid for the machines and accessories to do so.
If you make your coffee at home and factor in buying the machine, parts, maintenance and all the ingredients, Choice calculated it would set you back around $1284 for two cups of coffee a day for a year.
To buy the same amount of coffee from a cafe each day for a year would end up costing you around $3504.
This means you could save $2200 by making your coffee at home.
The savings from making your own soda water aren't quite as big but they're still significant.
We compared the cost of making your own sparkling water at home using a soda maker with the cost of buying the cheapest supermarket bottled sparkling water, and estimated you would save $150 a year by making your own.
Total possible savings: Up to $2350 a year.
5. Change your energy provider
It's been said before and yes it is a faff to organise, but don't stay loyal to one energy provider for life. Many people sign up to a plan based on a cheap initial offer, but when the deal ends they stay with the provider on the newer, more expensive plan.
Energy retailers lure people in with cheap rates and know they'll stick when them once the prices go up.
Buck this trend; keep looking for rates once the promotional offer ends.
CHOICE has partnered with Bill Hero, a subscription service that automatically monitors and compares every energy bill for you, and initiates a switch whenever you can save.
A Bill Hero annual subscription will cost you between $49 and $79, depending on whether you're looking for a better deal on your electricity, gas or both. So all up you'll be looking at savings of between $271 and $300.
6. Shop around for your groceries
Remember scouring the endless catalogues for the best deal on shopping items? You weren't silly; comparing products between shops is still a good way to save money.
In November 2023, Choice found it could save around $40 on a selected list of 19 items by choosing the best value product from one of four stores - Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and The Reject Shop. Across the year, those sorts of savings could really add up.
Choice editorial director Mark Serrels said while it takes more time and effort to shop across different supermarkets, it can pay off, with up to 20 per cent saved by doing more planning and taking advantage of specials.
"If you're lucky enough to have a Woolies, Coles and Aldi in a nearby shopping centre, it's worth being strategic in order to save a few dollars," he said.
Exactly how much you can save will depend on your household size and the items that you buy. But according to Statistica, in August 2023 Australian households spent an average of about $160 at the supermarket per week, which equates to around $8320 per year.
Total approximate savings: $1664 a year.
For ore information about Choice, click here.