The cost of living ramped up in 2022 and hit everyone’s pockets hard. Consumer NZ is sharing top tips to help New Zealanders save more of their hard-earned dollars in 2023.
“The simplest way to save big bucks is to check whether you’re on the best power plan to meet your needs,” said Gemma Rasmussen, Consumer head of communications and campaigns.
This year the average saving netted by Powerswitch users was $385.
“It literally takes minutes to enter your details into Powerswitch and see what you could be saving,” Rasmussen said.
“There’s no admin involved and your electricity won’t be accidentally disconnected. It could not be simpler to switch power plans or providers.”
Savvy switchers can save even more by moving to a time-conditional power plan. People who shift most of their power-hungry activities to off-peak periods stand to make huge savings.
“Households who can ‘load-shift’ typically save 10 to 20% off their power bill. The average household bill is $2200, which means people could save up to $440 by planning their power usage.”
As well as switching providers and planning power use, a few other simple steps can lead to big savings.
“Washing in cold water could save over $100 a year,” Rasmussen said.
“Modern washing machines do a great job of getting clothes clean using cold water. You only need to up the temperature if you have stubborn stains to tackle.”
When the weather permits, choosing to dry the laundry outside saves about a dollar per load.
“We also recommend switching to LED bulbs – they are more efficient and last longer. Although there’s a bit of outlay with this one, switching to these bulbs can save you over $100 a year. It’s worth noting the bulbs tend to be cheaper at hardware stores.”
Switching off appliances at the wall can lead to savings of more than $100 a year.
“Loads of devices use power even on standby mode, so cut them off at their source.”
There are big benefits to be gained from switching to an energy-efficient shower head too. It doesn’t mean sacrificing a soothing and powerful shower, but it does mean savings of up to $282 per year.
Finally, when you feel like a cuppa – only boil the amount of water you need.
“You can save $25 a year by halving the amount of water you boil in your kettle,” Rasmussen said.
Anyone taking all these steps could save more than $1200 in 2023 alone.
The cost of groceries has skyrocketed in 2022. The lack of competition in the supermarket sector means New Zealanders miss out on sharp pricing.
“Keep an eye on the Grocer app – this compares prices of products at different supermarkets,” Rasmussen said.
“We are not suggesting you hop between the supermarket chains every time you need to stock your pantry. But we want to remind New Zealanders there’s little reward in being loyal to one supermarket chain.”
Gaspy is a crowd-fed app which enables people to compare fuel prices quickly and easily between retailers.
“A quick search of fuel retailers near Consumer HQ, the week before Christmas, showed the cheapest price was 195¢ per litre – but that retailer is 18.6km away. The fuel retailer closest to the office is charging 237¢ per litre,” she said.
“Once you have this information you can figure out whether it’s worth your while travelling a bit further to make savings. If you can combine it with a trip you need to make anyway, you could be onto a winner.”
PriceSpy is a great tool to track the price of a particular item over time, and from store to store.
“Before you buy any big-ticket item, we recommend checking PriceSpy to see where the item is cheapest and how the price is tracking. Having this information stops you being hoodwinked by retailers.”
Using these tools for tracking grocery, fuel and product prices could easily save a shopper more than $200 a year.
We all tend to set and forget. As well as reviewing your power plan and provider, you should take time to look at your insurance policies, mobile phone plans and subscription services too.
“Our insurance survey found a huge difference between the cheapest and most expensive insurance policies for a standard-sized house,” Rasmussen said.
“It’s worthwhile taking the time to explore different insurance providers – you could stand to make a sizeable saving.”
There are many different broadband and mobile plans on the market, so it’s possible you could be paying less for your household’s telco services.
“Just make sure you’re at the end of your contract before you switch providers so you can avoid break fees.”
It’s the time of year our credit cards and buy now pay later (BNPL) services take a real hammering. You can take steps to get your credit spending under control.
Avoid making just the minimum payment. Instead, by paying more if you can, you pay less interest and get out of debt faster. One way to do this is to set up a direct debit to clear your balance in full each month. And this means there’s no fear about missing your payment deadline.
“Explore the banks’ offerings,” Rasmussen said. ”Some offer low- or zero-interest deals for balance transfers. To make the most of these offers you must clear the balance during a specified period, otherwise you start racking up interest again.”
BNPL services are interest free, but that perk can be negated by substantial late payment fees.
“If your credit card or BNPL debt is causing you concern, you should talk to your bank or reach out to a budgeting adviser. Help is available.
“Taking a bit of time to use tools like Powerswitch, Grocer, PriceSpy and Gaspy, as well as being deliberate about how, when and where you spend could net you well over $1200 in 2023.”