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Four quick and easy ways to slash household bills

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Nila Sweeney
Tip #1: Negotiate a better phone plan
Chances are, you’ve been with the same mobile phone carrier on the same plan for a number of years. If you’re near the end of your contract it pays to shop around for a new deal. Start with your existing carrier as they may be offering a cheaper deal, and if you don’t need a new mobile phone, you can sign up for a new handset anyway and sell it on eBay.
 
If your mobile phone plan is tied up in a contract for the time being, concentrate on making savings with your home phone or home internet plans. One phone call could save you up to $50 a month.

Tip #2: Streamline your credit cards

The average Australian credit card debt currently stands at around $3,500, according to the Reserve Bank. If you don't pay off the balance of your credit card/s in full each month, then it's time to create a plan of attack to get rid of your credit card debt.

Let's say you have three credit cards totalling $6,000, with a minimum payment due across all three cards of $150 per month. Every bank offers deals to entice new customers, and they may also offer you a discount to retain your business if you threaten to leave. So, start by approaching your own credit card provider to see what deal they will offer you to bring across your credit card debts from other banks.
 
Ideally you want to end up with one credit card account (cancel the rest of your cards so you won't be tempted to spend on them) and a low interest rate (aim for less than 10%), so you have just one minimum payment due each month. That way, you can funnel your funds to the one credit card to reduce the debt and eventually pay the credit card off in full.

Tip #3: Take advantage of group buying websites
When you purchase a deal from a group buying website such as jumponit.com and ourdeal.com.au, you can obtain discounts of up to 80% on everything from a car service or dentist visit, to dinner at an Italian restaurant. Some buyers have been burnt by dodgy operators, so be sure to research the vendor offering the deal before you buy.


Tip 4: Cook smart
If you buy your lunch at work most days, it will be easy to make savings in your food budget. You just need to be smart about your food choices and plan ahead by routinely doubling or tripling a recipe when you cook, so you have leftovers for lunch the next day or two. Whether you’re making a stir-fry, pasta, chicken and vegies or a big salad, the idea is to make enough for your lunch at the same time as you’re preparing dinner. For a dollar or two worth of extra ingredients, you’ll save up to $10 a day in lunch costs.

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