Ugh. Bills. I’ve never met anyone yet who loves paying them!
But seriously, bills are a sad fact of life and unavoidable. It doesn’t matter where you live in Australia, whether you live in your own home, if you rent a place as a tenant or if you share with mates – we all use essential services, so we all have bills to pay.
As much as I’d love to say that you can negotiate on every single bill, it’s just not true. Some bills are set in stone and you can’t haggle your way to a lower rate.
Like, if you own your own home, you’re stuck paying council rates and water rates and can’t shop around. You just have to pay whatever rate your local council or water provider decides to charge you.
Same with car registration, and dog registration. These are bills you just have to pay, and you have no choice but to pay whatever the rate is.
But with other essential services like electricity, gas, phone, internet and insurance, it really does pay to shop around to get the best deal.
And guess what? I have four easy steps for you to follow to make SURE you get the best possible deal.
1. Compare apple with apples
I know it seems like you would just compare the quoted prices when shopping around for providers.
But it really doesn’t work that way because every provider has a different way of calculating their quoted price.
That means you have to be able to figure out the differences before you can compare the prices.
GST is a good example. Some providers will include GST in the price, and others add GST separately afterwards. So already there could be a big difference in the prices you have been quoted. So annoying, right?
Some providers will automatically include stuff in their packages, but others might offer those same things as options available for an extra fee.
This all makes it really hard to compare the different quotes you get! It’s not impossible though, and I have actually created an awesome spreadsheet I use that helps me identify the differences and make sure I am comparing apples with apples.
2. Know exactly what you need and want
Even before you start shopping around, make sure you know what you NEED, and what you WANT.
There’s nothing worse than picking a provider because their quote was cheap, then finding out later you aren’t covered for something, or you don’t have access to benefits you really need.
Figuring out what you need and want also means you can figure out what you DON’T need or want. There’s no point paying extra for bells and whistles you don’t need.
A good example of this is flood coverage under an insurance policy. If you live on a hill, you might decide you don’t need to pay extra for this.
When choosing a mobile phone plan, think about whether you regularly download data, or if you travel outside the major metropolitan areas.
With car insurance, you might want the option to choose your own repairer, while your health insurance wants and needs will depend on the types of extra services you usually use.
Your electricity needs and wants will vary depending on whether you’re home during the day, and if you have underfloor heating that might impact what you’re looking for in a gas provider.
And then there’s the internet! There are many different factors to consider with this, including how many people might be using it at once, and how many devices will be connected.
3. Review all the available options
It doesn’t matter which bill you’re talking about – electricity, gas, mobile phone, internet, health insurance, home and contents insurance or car insurance – you will have heaps of providers to choose from.
It really is worth taking the time to review ALL the options out there, because you never know where you will find the best deal.
And I know we’re all stretched for time, so it might be tempting to just go with the brands you see advertising all the time. Or you might even think about using a broker or a comparison website – even though those meerkats are pretty annoying! [NB – feel free to remove the meerkat reference if you’re not comfortable with the dig.]
The problem with this approach is that you might save time, but you will also be limiting your choices and missing out on an even better deal.
You might not realise it, but comparison websites usually only compare the providers who are willing to pay them a fee for recommendations. And many brokers will align themselves with a handful of providers, so they won’t present you with all of the possible options.
Basically, what you save in time, may cost you in money. Just saying!
4. Review your bills EVERY year
I’m honestly not trying to scare you, but if you don’t review your bills EVERY single year you could end up paying hundreds (or even thousands) more dollars than you should.
Once upon a time, providers would reward their customers for loyalty.
That simply doesn’t happen anymore. In fact, the opposite is now true. The whole essential services market is based on a strategy of continually winning NEW business.
That means that loyalty does NOT pay these days.
The longer you stay with one provider, the more likely it is you will be paying more for your service than a new client with the EXACT same service as you.
It sucks! But that’s how it works these days, and that’s why you need to review every bill, every year.
Of course, all of this takes time and effort and not everyone can be bothered! That’s exactly why I offer a Home Bill Saver Service, because I know I can save you more than enough on your bills, to cover the cost of hiring me to review them.
[Needs a rounding off conclusion here – I will be adding a free optin]