"Secrets to Saving Money" Free Newsletter - May 2016

This issue includes:-

  1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: A Sobering Thought
  2. May: Peace of Mind - Do You Really Have It?
  3. Last Month's Competition: How Do YOU Keep Your Cash?
  4. Best of the Vault: Insurance Ups and Downs
  5. Best of the Forum: Questions and Answers
  6. Best Members' Blog: From Debt to Freedom - Inch by Inch
  7. Best of Simple Savings Facebook: Bling on a Budget
  8. Savings Story: A Good Move Reducing Our Annual Budget


How are you going? This month I have handed over the reins and the newsletter is brought to you by Jackie Gower. If you enjoy it and want more from Jackie please write in and tell us how cool you think she is!

Have a great month,


1. Sad Sally, Happy Hanna: A Sobering Thought

"Ooh did you see this?" Sally pointed out a story to Hanna in her magazine. "This poor woman! She was on holiday overseas and got hit by a car when coming out of a restaurant. There she was, thousands of miles from home and stuck in hospital for weeks and to top it all off she got landed with a massive medical bill." "Didn't she have travel insurance?" Hanna asked. "Yes! She did - but get this," Sally went on. "They wouldn't pay out because she had been at the restaurant and had one drink - ONE! It's not right," she shook her head.

"No it's not - but it happens a lot," Hanna replied. "I remember a friend of Pete's gave us an SOS call a couple of years ago. He was in Japan and lost his wallet with everything in it. Once again he wasn't covered by insurance because the last place he remembered seeing it was in the taxi on his way home from a bar. Fortunately though, he was lucky. The hotel cleaner had accidentally picked it up with the laundry and it turned up a few days later, clean as a whistle!" Hanna laughed.

"That WAS lucky!" Sally chuckled. "Still, it makes you wonder though. I mean, you pay all this money for insurance for peace of mind but should you ever need to use it half the time it turns out there's some loophole. I mean, fancy not even being able to have a glass of wine at an exotic restaurant when you're away!" "So, what insurance companies are REALLY saying is," Hanna burst into giggles, "holiday insurance covers you on your holiday - as long as you don't have a holiday!"

2. May: Peace of Mind - Do You Really Have It?

Years ago, taking out an insurance policy was a big deal. I still remember groaning inwardly when our insurance agent would come to our home. We'd sit for what seemed like hours over endless cups of tea as the agent would meticulously go through our policies, making sure we knew exactly what we were covered for, what we weren't and triple checking that the policy included things we specifically needed. Whether it was health insurance or home insurance, thanks to our agent and the laborious meetings, we always knew down to the letter what our policies contained, without even ever having to dig them out to check as the years went by.

These days, things are very different. Signing up for an insurance policy takes little more than a few minutes and personal interaction rarely goes beyond a phone call or filling in an online form. It's convenient, fast and super easy. For many people, getting insurance on a new car, the contents of their home or even their lives is nothing more than a mere formality, another item to tick off the 'to do' list. Taking out insurance is still a big deal - but we don't treat it like one, which is no surprise when we're constantly told in the ads how easy and fool proof it is. The sad and very dangerous repercussion of this is the whole process has become so simple that the power, the knowledge and personal input has been taken out of our hands. It's supposed to be easy - but let me tell you it's far from easy when you go and make a claim and find you're not covered the way you thought you were at all. My story is a long one but I hope people will read it because what happened to me can happen to anyone and does, all the time.

In 2013, I took out an income protection insurance policy on a routine visit to my bank. As a writer working from home my work isn't exactly hazardous but nevertheless, as a newly solo mum on a single income, I would no longer be able to survive in the event of an accident or a prolonged illness which prevented me from working. The whole process took just a few minutes and involved my bank manager giving me a form to fill in. Short of something disastrous like my hands falling off and ruining my ability to type I wasn't anticipating any problems and my application was soon approved.

Then one winter I got pneumonia. Twice in fact - once with viral meningitis thrown in for good measure. Not surprisingly I ended up in hospital and recovery was very slow. As the months dragged on with no income of any kind coming in I realised that I was going to have to claim on my income protection insurance. After all, that's what it was there for, right? Indeed it was, the sympathetic voice on the other end of the phone line told me when I placed my claim. They promised to have things sorted in a jiffy - would I just agree to give them access to my medical records? Sure! I told them, silently breathing a sigh of relief at my presence of mind for taking out the policy, not to mention the $4000 per month I would now be paid.

So I was more than a little surprised when, a few weeks after, they contacted me to say that my claim was being declined on the grounds that a) I didn't tell them when I took out my policy that I had had a lump in my breast in 2012, b) I didn't tell them I also had a dodgy smear test in 2012 and c) I didn't tell them I was depressed in December 2013. You might be thinking 'Indeed, why didn't she tell them that?' The answer, as the original policy form I filled in at the bank clearly showed (and I was thankfully able to use as evidence) was that they never asked. What they did ask was a) had I been hospitalised at any time over the past five years due to serious illness. My answer was no and it was the truth, I had not been hospitalised at any stage until my pneumonia. My breast lump turned out to be a harmless lump of fatty tissue which disappeared by itself and the abnormal smear test had not turned out to be anything harmful and required no further treatment. As for being depressed, my marriage had broken up a few months earlier; I was hardly going to be doing cartwheels! But I never took a single one of the anti-depressants the doctor prescribed me and still had the entire packet to prove it.

Besides, what did any of these things have to do with the price of fish? I was making a claim on the grounds of pneumonia, yet the way they were carrying on I was potentially suicidal if I wasn't already half dead from the other things first. Despite the fact that it was their lack of questions on taking out the policy which were at fault, they insisted that had they known about these conditions they would have never given me the policy; or at very least would have deferred it for 12 months to make sure I didn't kick the bucket first. Basically, the cover I had been paying for all this time wasn't covering me at all and never had - yet even now they were still taking my money. Back and forth the emails went and every time I stuck to my guns until the only thing they had left to say was that they still considered me a high suicide risk. Unfortunately for them they were saying this to a woman who had $6.35 in the bank to feed her kids with and I was not only feeling determined but powerful. So on Sunday morning I wrote an email and gave them both barrels.

I poured my heart out in that email, but not in a 'woe is me' way. I threatened them with going to the media - my exact words being "I don't think a mother trying to feed two teenagers on $6.35 whilst still being stung for $77 a month non-existent cover will look particularly favourable on your organisation on national television, do you?" I would have done it too. Above all I made it clear that I had had ENOUGH, I had been through enough crap and that all I needed was for people like them to give me a darn break.

My next step would have been to go to the insurance ombudsman. As it turned out, however, I didn't need it. I received a phone call from the company the following day, advising me that they would be paying out my claim on compassionate grounds. In other words, "we're still saying it's not our fault but it is really". Not only did they pay out my claim, they also refunded every monthly payment of $77 I had made throughout the life of the policy. I was delighted with the outcome - but it was nothing compared to the relief I felt that I was now going to be able to survive.

I received another surprise when a national Sunday paper contacted me wanting to cover my story. Why? Because situations like mine happen all the time. People are constantly being ripped off and hurt by insurance companies but they don't fight back. They don't realise they can, nobody likes to make trouble, it's human nature.

But you are not being a bad person by arguing for your rights! You don't have to play nice. Insurance is a massive business and they are heartless and cold, they will try any strategy or fancy words to avoid paying out money. Don't be a victim. Do your homework and stand up for your rights. If you are right and you KNOW they are wrong, stick to your guns. Let them know they can't walk over you. It doesn't have to stop there either; there are bigger people above them who can take them to task. If I hadn't fought back I would have got nothing and lost everything. You can do it too.

If you haven't checked your policies in a while, dig them out and sit down and have a read - a PROPER read, just like we did in the old days. Check the small print, check your cover, check for discrepancies and any missed or important information and put them right while you can. Because if there's one thing I and countless others before me have learned the hard way, insurance isn't important unless you need it. And then it is.

3. Last Month's Competition: How Do YOU Keep Your Cash?

Last month we asked you to share some of the strategies you use to keep your money safe in a world where everyone else is trying to take it from you. WOW - what a response! Our competition box has been groaning under the volume of emails! Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter our competition. Your entries were fantastic and really inspiring. The winning entry comes from Leigh Burgess. We loved her story because, not only is she doing a brilliant job of hanging onto her money, she has also come up with a very novel and effective way of reaching her goals. Great stuff!

Single Woman on a Saving Mission!

"As a single woman I think it's imperative to track your cash. I am paid monthly on a set date, so it's the old sink or swim method. You either learn to budget or drown, and watch out for the months with five weeks in them.

"Two days after my salary is deposited I have set amounts automatically transferred into separate accounts for my savings, bills and retirement. I have a record of every amount I need to pay, including the elective items like the PO Box rental, hairdresser, clothes and so on. I work on an annual figure per item, divide by 12, and that's what is transferred each month. The balance sits in my everyday account and I draw out a set amount each week for petrol, groceries, weekly coffee with the girls and such. This is the only cash I carry. Anything left at the end of the month is moved into savings. I like to save up for the big ticket items, fridge, carpet etc, and I use a chart system. I keep it on my fridge and see it every day.

"I am also currently saving for an overseas holiday. On top is a picture of the Eiffel Tower so guess where I'm going! I have a spread sheet with lines across the page. Each line is marked into squares and each square represents a set dollar amount. For me, its $50. A photo of a plane against one line is the airfare cost. This is $2000 so I have 40 squares. A hotel is on the next line. That's $2700 so there are 53 squares. A street cafe photo represents meals. A waiter represents tips. I always budget tips as these can really eat into your spending money. The Louvre is for spending money. I concentrate on one item at a time and each month I colour in a square, in red. The airfare graph is full so now I am working on the hotel bill! It's a visual reminder of how far I have got and how far I still have to go. It really keeps me on track to reach my goals. I have another spread sheet for my retirement fund. I set a dollar goal every two years and track it the same way as the holiday fund. When I reach my two year goal, I set another. I won't retire a millionaire but I will be comfortable, thanks to my tracking sheets!"

Congratulations Leigh, you've won yourself $100 for your holiday kitty! Look out for another fun competition in next month's newsletter.

4. Best of the Vault: Insurance Ups and Downs

For years we've been encouraging members to compare insurance policies regularly from year to year to enable them to get the best deal between companies. However, it's just as important to know exactly what those policies include. Have you checked yours lately? These tips from the Vault may surprise you, and could also result in some valuable savings!

A little loyalty adds up to big savings on insurance

A quick phone call saved my daughter more than $200 on her first insurance. Now at university and recently flatting for the first time, we figured her belongings were probably no longer covered under our insurance policy. As our insurance company is now phone-in only, we popped into the only insurance office in her city to enquire what she would need. After a quote for $261 for the year and a lecture on the importance of liability insurance we left with our heads spinning. Thinking I would just compare it with what our current company would charge before committing, I phoned them. They told us that as she would be still coming home each year in her holidays she was still covered by our contents insurance, (even if her belongings were still in her flat) AND with liability cover up to one million dollars! I'm so glad I double checked rather than going with the new company. A little loyalty can definitely pay off!

Contributed by: Anna Allen

Big win over dispute was worth it

There is hope for the 'little people' after all! After an ongoing dispute with a well-known insurance company, I have recently won my case, saving $785 which I had previously written off.

Almost two months ago I needed to make a claim on my general insurance policy. After carefully collecting and faxing documentation to the insurance company, the claim was processed. However, to my shock I received only $450 instead of an expected $1235.

I contacted the company and spoke to a variety of individuals who all refused to process the remainder of money. The reason given for the refusal of full payment was very obscure and did not make any sense. I felt that I was definitely being unfairly treated. Feeling completely exhausted with constant phone calls to the company and refusal after refusal, eventually I ran out of steam and gave up the chase.

However, just four weeks later after seeing a story on a morning television show that discussed insurance claims and the use of ombudsmen, I decided to give it one more go. I rang the company and asked them to again tell me why the claim was denied. I wrote down the response given. Several times during the conversation I asked the person to repeat any words that I missed. They soon realised that I was recording the information provided. I then asked for the name of the person with whom I was speaking and requested details on the appropriate department to contact to lodge a complaint on the decision made. I was offered a phone number but refused this and stated that I would be putting the complaint in writing. Reluctantly, I was given the relevant information. I then mentioned that if I was unsuccessful with the complaint, I would take the matter to an insurance ombudsman as I believed that I was wrongfully denied the payment. The person on the other end of the call then did a complete back flip and offered to go through the details with me one more time!

After discussing my claim for several more minutes, he advised me to fax one more document through to the company and then my claim would be fully paid! After faxing the information requested, I happily received a cheque for the full payment one week later.

It just goes to show that little people can win against major insurance companies. If I had not taken up the fight again, I would have missed out on $785 to which I was entitled. My fight did not cost me any money (only time), as the calls were toll free. By mentioning those magic words: 'complaint' and 'ombudsman' (and being prepared to follow through), I was finally taken seriously. I am sure many major companies such as the one I dealt with expect us to give up, therefore lining the pockets of these major corporations. I highly recommend fighting any dispute in which you feel unfairly treated! I did and am so glad that I gave it one more go, as it has certainly paid off!

Contributed by: Helen M

Check if your insurance covers theft

Check your home contents insurance to avoid expensive scenarios like this one. Did you know that your home contents insurance may not cover theft from your house by someone you let in? I found out the hard way a couple of weeks ago when my mobile phone valued at $1000 was stolen off my kitchen table by a youth who had come to visit my youngest son.

After reporting it to the police, I rang my insurance company to make a claim. I was told because I'd given the thief permission to come into my house I was not covered. This also includes tradespeople, guests at parties and so on. I rang five other major insurance companies to find they have the same policy. Check with your insurance company, you may not be covered for all that you think you are!

Contributed by: Ruth Hastie

Don't over pay your home insurance - check this tip!

When insuring your home, don't insure it for what it's worth if you sold your home - that price includes the land block too! Like many people, I'd been insuring my home at the market value for years! Instead I now ask a building company every two years what they charge to build a home per square metre. I find out if that price includes chattels and so on and allow an extra big amount for contingencies (water, power, plans and permissions and removal costs) in case my home was to burn down. Re-checking every two years allows me to modify my insurance accordingly and I've been saving heaps ever since learning this tip!

Contributed by: Diane Green

Insure for replacement value

By reviewing your insurance, you could potentially save yourself hundreds of dollars.

I work in the home loan industry and have noticed while reviewing files that some people are grossly over insured. It became apparent that when asked 'how much is your property worth?' by the insurer, some people are answering with the purchase price or 'market value' of their home, rather than the replacement value of the building structure.

In some cases, I would estimate customers were being charged almost double because the 'estimated replacement value' they quoted to the insurer was the value of the entire property (land, landscaping and so on, including the house) rather than just the amount it would cost to clear the site of debris and rebuild the house.

In my own case and in the early years of my home ownership, I was paying over $700 per year for insurance on my home because I lived on acreage and the insurer had assumed I was running a small farm. Upon reviewing my insurance, and discussing my needs with a few different insurers, I was able to secure insurance for my house, with public liability that extended to the full 15 acres I own, for around $350 - because I searched for a quote that did not include liability insurance for livestock and farm machinery.

Be wary, though, your estimated 'cost of replacement' should increase each year in line with increases in building costs. Being under-insured is almost worse than being over-insured, as insurers may not pay your claim, or if they do, they will deduct the amount you were under-insured from the claim. (i.e.: if your replacement value of the home is $200,000 and you are insured for a replacement value of $150,000, the insurer might deduct the $50,000 you were under-insured from the sum you paid insurance for - leaving you with $100,000 to replace your $200,000 home).

Some insurance companies can provide you with estimates of the replacement value of your home, upon request. Otherwise you should obtain an estimate from a qualified builder who is constructing homes in the current market.

Contributed by: Nichole Kertesz

Get to grips with insurance jargon

It helps to be familiar with insurance terminology so you can make sure you're getting the most from your insurance. Here's a handy site to help you translate private health insurance jargon: www.privatehealth.gov.au/faq/glossary.htm

You'll find a handy glossary which gives a definition of common insurance terms including the different types of cover.

Contributed by: LJH

Insurers 'decrease the increase' when price hikes are challenged

A few weeks ago our annual car insurance premium letter came, informing us that we had a 17.5% increase. Like a true Simple Saver my husband called the insurer to challenge them about why they had increased it so drastically. The insurer replied with the usual reasons relating to inflation, risk factors, insurance trends and so on and at this, my hubby pointed out some simple facts:

  1. Our cars have decreased in market value (meaning they have less insured value and would need less insurance payout in case of a claim).
  2. We have not made a single claim to date (meaning our premium should remain the same).
  3. Insurers take into account how long you've had a valid driver's licence for. The risk factor reduces as the number of years a driving license is held increases (meaning we are considered low-risk drivers, therefore our premium should reflect this).

At first our insurer wouldn't budge, but after we obtained a competitive quote from another insurer our current insurer brought the increase down to just 2.05% from the proposed 17.5%! This is an 88% reduction on the initial increase!

Contributed by: Aditi Sharma

5. Best of the Forum: Questions and Answers

One of the many brilliant things about the all-knowing, all-saving Members' Forum is that you get answers to your questions fast. Got an insurance query or problem? There's a wealth of knowledge right here!

And now for some general private health insurance questions

Lorax wants to make sure she gets the best cover and value for her family and has many questions. Fortunately the members are on hand to help! This informative thread is well worth a read:

Check your insurance policy if you have young drivers or others regularly using your car

Kids grow up fast and sometimes we forget to update our insurance policies accordingly - particularly when it comes to their driving status. SS member plethora has just checked her insurance policy and is set to receive a nice refund but learned a lot in the process and wants to share for the benefit of other members. Get informed here!

Life insurance payout question

If, heaven forbid, a person was killed in a road accident and was not obeying the road rules at the time, would their life insurance still pay out? A thought provoking question with some interesting answers:

Beware of unprofessional practices by insurance company

SQ has been hearing horror stories from people who have been taken advantage of by the same insurance company and wants to warn other members. Can these scenarios really happen? And if so, what can be done about them? Another very interesting and informative read!

6. Best Members' Blog: From Debt to Freedom - Inch By Inch

An Update 4 Years Later and NEW Challenge!

One of the many benefits of being a Vault member is that you can win $100 cash each month for your Simple Savings blog! Starting your own blog on the site is easy. All you have to do is log into the Vault, click on 'My Desk' at the top right, then 'Blog'. Then get writing! We love reading all your money saving trials and tribulations and really appreciate the effort that goes into each one.

This month's Blog winner is Lily Rose with her post "From Debt to Freedom - Inch By Inch. An Update Four Years Later and NEW Challenge."

"So here it is, April 2016, and I decided to do a blog on SS as I am taking on a new financial challenge (more on this later!).

When I went in to create a blog, I found blogs from four years ago... and WOW, what an eye opener in how far I have travelled in four years, even given a financial disaster that cost me around $60,000... (again... more later...).

As a bit of background, I'm 47, never married, no children. I have a lifelong medical condition which has given me some ups and downs over the years (but hey, I'm still here).

Here is my post from October 2012, a mere four years ago:

October 2012

Life has some ups and downs... and I'm working on the upswing at the moment, digging my way out of debt and towards financial independence. This blog will hopefully keep me on track and amuse me along the way. If anyone actually reads it, it will be a bonus.

Debt position 6 months ago (March 2012)

After two years of ill health and underemployment, I went from no debt (had worked for three years to achieve this and was at break-even point!), to ending up $33,400 in debt. Of this, $9k was to Mum (no interest) and $24.5k on credit cards (three cards, interest payments approx. $250 per month). All three credit cards were on red line, and I was starting to have payments declined and incur fees. Well, it was either that or ask Mum for (still more) money...

I started working casually on 29 Feb 12, and in the last six months (working part time, about 25-30 hours per week), have whittled the debt down to $30,878.80 and have a $501.39 baby EF.

Current debt position (October 2012)

Baby EF - $501.39

Debt $30,878.80

Plan for paying out debt (April 2013 - April 2016)

Rent out house, trade in car for a 4WD and caravan (very budget range for both) and have a working holiday for three years. By renting out the house, it will cover the costs of the house (rates, water, insurance $350 per month), as well as pay down debt ($850 per month) in three years. The house is seriously too big for me and costs a bomb to live here by myself. I don't need a three bed house on 1/4 acre for one person - in truth, I would be far happier in a two bed unit with a view.

So, welcome to 1 October - in six months I will be hitching up the caravan and setting off. At least that's the plan.

In the meantime, I have six months to downsize the house, sell as much as possible, sell car, buy 4WD and caravan, learn how to tow a caravan, set up etc, transfer my life on cloud, upgrade technology for being on the road (long overdue...) and so much more. It will be a steep learning curve, a big organisational challenge and more!

That was then...

April 2016

So, did I follow the plan? Sort of, not really... although I did get out of debt (finally!). I got a 12-month contract position from March 2013 - March 2014 and paid down debt over that period (no extras, no social life, no nothing!) and then, thanks to an unexpected windfall, had some extra $ to be able to pack up the house and head to Darwin. Originally the plan was to spend six months in Darwin during the dry season, then head to Sydney for the summer and rinse and repeat (basically I loathe the cold weather, so was trying to escape winter!). I rented out the house down south and figured it would pay for itself as far as rates etc, and any extra was to go into a fund for maintenance and improvements.

So I left in March 2014, carrying only what I could fit in the car (which is a teeny weeny two seater convertible with virtually no luggage space!) and left two tea chest cartons at home to be sent up when I had an address. I rented out the house minus the garage and stored all my stuff in the garage... this is an issue that I will have to deal with at some point. I took a month to travel up to Darwin via Queensland (hello Great Barrier Reef!) and mostly had a great holiday apart from one near death experience less than 300km from Darwin... I arrived in Darwin on 12 April 2014 and checked into the YHA.

So, new town, no job, no address and no possessions or furniture. Within a month, I'd found share accommodation (thinking that it was a cheaper way to live and had the bonus of meeting friends of the flatmate), a FABULOUS job (which I still have and am so grateful for) and a boyfriend (OK, so that turned out to be disastrous on many levels, but bear with me, I'll get to that shortly). Hello Darwin!

So in the last two years, I've had a financial disaster that cost me a lot of money (will do a separate blog on the boyfriend experience shortly), but have got to the point where I have bought a very modest two bed flat that settles in two days' time.

So, new mortgage here I come!

I have great plans to live on the smell on an oily rag in the first year of the mortgage and aggressively pay down the principal.

However, I have a few really expensive habits that I need to eliminate...

I drink. I smoke. I drink far too much soft drink (sugar-free variety, but still, it's expensive and not good for me in the long run).

On the plus side - I've got a good income that will allow me to comfortably cover my expenses. And I'm due a pay rise in May.

On the plus side - I've got a budget for works that need to be done to the flat and the cost of the furniture I need. I WILL NOT overspend this budget.

On the negative side - I still need to pay my tax bill from last financial year and the house down south needs a little money spent on it to repaint the bathroom and replace the side fence.

I have the money (read ability to borrow!) to pay for these works. I have no other debts at this time.

Anyhow, that's enough for tonight... if you've read this far, thanks! Will do more posts soon as I feel that this blog will help keep me accountable in the next 12 months as I try and pay for the new flat, the works that need to be done and pay down as much of the principal as I possibly can."

What a terrific and honest blog, Lily Rose, well done! We wish you all the best in your new journey and your new home.

You can read more of our members' blogs here.

7. Best of Simple Savings Facebook: Bling on a Budget

Love Facebook or hate it, the Simple Savers Facebook page is a great way to learn even more tips and enjoy reading of other members' successes. One of our favourite posts this month comes from Tricia, whose kids have the best dressed feet in town thanks to a little creativity from their mum! This was a first-time project for Tricia and we're sure you'll agree she has done a fantastic job. Not only that, she managed to save a fortune on the 'real thing'!

"I see people online paying $70 - $100 for a pair of custom-made shoes for their kids. Meh! Total cost for the ones in the photo including materials and shoes, $35. I paid $10 at ALDI for the shoes, the rest came from eBay. I had to wait a few weeks for all the materials to arrive from China but it was worth waiting - plus, you get the extra leftover glue, rhinestones, ribbon and so on for your next project! Onto a pair of black canvas now!

Congratulations on a brilliant job Tricia, it just goes to show it really does pay to have a go at making things yourself, even if you've never done anything like it before. Keep up the great work (and we look forward to seeing the black ones!).

Joining our busy Facebook community is super easy. Either search for 'Simple Savers' on Facebook or click this link and request to join. Once you're in, let the fun begin!

8. Savings Story: A Good Move Reducing Our Annual Budget

Moving house and a few simple changes have set us up to save a massive $110,000 over ten years! Two years ago we relocated. As a result of this move we reduced our fuel costs by $50 a week through no longer travelling to and from our farm daily. It was 40km a day, now it is just 800m away. We also decided that we would only shop once a month because it is a half hour drive to the main shops.

We have reduced our power costs from $80 to $30 a week by using iSelect to help choose a better provider which meets our needs better. Having solar panels on our shed roof contributed to the reduction in power costs. We have a solar hot water system now and a wood burning stove which not only heats the house but also heats our water in the winter months. We have a lot of fallen timber on our property so we are happy to saw it up in preparation for the winter months. It has the added benefit of being good exercise so there is no need for a gym membership! We have also reduced the amount of time we use the traditional oven by getting a $100 convection oven and this is a lot cheaper to run than the traditional oven. All of this has contributed to reducing our power costs by $50 a week.

We reduced our medical bills when I came off medication which I had been prescribed and my health dramatically improved as a result. While I was unwell we had required home help assistance. This is no longer necessary and is a further saving of $120 a month.

I was able to reduce our health insurance by $100 a month to $240 and still get all the benefits we required by using iSelect. It definitely was not worth staying with the same provider for 15 years.

We reduced our grocery bills by producing almost all our own meat and vegetables. Unfortunately, as a result of a neighbour spraying, our vegetables have cost more recently, however, in general our grocery costs are down from $250 to $150 a week. We do not buy any chemical cleaners or laundry or dishwasher powders because we use bicarb soda and vinegar. We also do not buy shampoo or hair conditioner.

Not only are we enjoying a healthier lifestyle, we are also now enjoying the financial benefit of reducing our costs by $11,000 a year which will equate to a savings of $110,000 in ten years. Really incredible!

Contributed by: Rebecca C

9. Goodbye For Now

That's another newsletter done and dusted, where is the year going? We hope you have enjoyed it. Don't forget to dig out your insurance policies this month and have a proper read. You could save a lot of money - and potentially also a lot of heartache. We'd love to hear how you get on.

See you next month!