'Know what rent your neighbours are paying.’ The best 13 hacks for saving on household expenses.

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The cost of living. It’s the buzz term at the moment and quite frankly, one that would be affecting most across the country. 

Rental and mortgage prices have skyrocketed, electricity has more than doubled for some and I have personally had grocery bills that literally made my eyes water. Suffice to say, saving money in every little pocket has never felt more important.

I've tried numerous ways to reduce our household spend, cutting down on the things we may not need and bulk buying the things we do. Though for a family of four, this isn’t always possible, especially when it comes to school and childcare expenses. 

And although we can sometimes feel like we’re going to drown in bills, I continued my cost-saving efforts and have found that there are several efficient things to try at home that can actively make a dent in your household expenses.

Here are my 13 best hacks. 


It’s only natural when we’re sweltering at home to reach for the air con remote, switch on the ceiling fans or plug in the pedestals, but all three will see your electricity bill jump higher than a cat on a hot tin roof. 

It may sound simple but one of the easiest and most effective ways I have found to combat the heat, as well as our bill is to shut all the blinds and doors when we go out during the day or an hour or so before the day’s heat reaches its peak when we’re at home.  

Another hack – switch all of your sedentary items off at the powerpoint. That is, your TV, microwave, toaster, hairdryer, everything that doesn’t need to be on should be switched off at the wall. Everything plugged in on standby is just chewing up unnecessary wattage. 


Paid subscriptions

Let’s be honest, free-to-air TV has not been the main go-to for entertainment for years now. Even outside of streaming, we're starting to have a few paid app subscriptions on-the-go for things like schoolwork, wellbeing and workouts.

In my house, Netflix is a must for all of us then my hubby has Amazon Prime, my favourite reality shows are on Binge (as well as shows for our girls), and we're thinking about a Kindle Unlimited subscription. Sound familiar?

A little management can come in handy, and a free tool like Optus SubHub helps so much to collate and manage your library of paid subscriptions in one place. 

Being able to watch and use all the apps we want can add up quickly. SubHub actually comes with some awesome discounts, saving you up to 5 per cent on two subscriptions when you link to SubHub, and if you add a third subscription, you can save up to 10 per cent across them (HOW GOOD IS THAT). So, not only will it add some more control to help sort your subscriptions, but it will also save you a little extra too. 


We don’t have a pet at home just yet, so I tapped into my cousin for her saving hacks when it comes to her gorgeous border collie.

With grooming, "We buy a special dog wash that lasts ages and we purchased dog clippers for $89 as opposed to paying to have her groomed every two months for $120," she says.

It's also hugely recommended to shop around. "If your pet requires surgery or any medical procedure, it really pays to shop around. Starrii the border collie busted her ACL and the first surgeon we saw quoted us $8,000. The second surgeon quoted $4,600 and ultimately the third, who we ended up going with, quoted us $3,600. So, we basically saved over half of the original cost quoted by just spending a little time doing some extra legwork with quotes."



I’m not sure if this is a secret or not, but chain supermarkets like Woolies and Coles have specific times or days when their products (especially meat) are marked down. This is the time to get in and do your grocery shop!

I looked into this at my supermarkets after a girlfriend of mine did this and discovered that her local supermarket takes 10-20 per cent off on that product's expiry day if it's the morning, 50 per cent off the same item just before dinnertime, and then 90 per cent off the item if it's still on the shelf before the store closes that evening.  

Each store is different, so it’s important to chat to your local staff to gain insight into when their markdowns happen and only buy what you will actually use on the day, or that you can freeze. 

Another golden nugget to keep in mind – packaged foods are more expensive than if you made something from scratch. So instead of reaching for that pre-made mud cake, packet salad or guacamole, find an easy recipe and make it yourself. It may not only end up cheaper, but it will be ten times more delicious, too.


I have found that a simple switch to the wool cycle mode on my machine (and using cold water instead of hot) helps to use less power and less water and doesn’t compromise the cleanliness of our things. Most machines should have setting like this. This is the mode you would typically use for, funnily enough, your wool items, but also for delicates or clothes that say they need to be hand-washed (chuck these babies in a wash bag) as this cycle is gentler than the typical cotton or synthetics mode. 


Image: Supplied.

With my machine, instead of taking over 2 hours to complete a regular cotton wash, the wool mode only runs for 54 minutes, so not only do I ultimately save money in electricity and water, but I can also get through more loads quicker – winning.



The dreaded rental increase letter that arrives every 12 or so months can be nerve-wracking, but if you live in a block of units or row of villas or townhouses, there is a way to negotiate on your increase. It’s been tried and tested by me, and I can 100 per cent vouch that it worked when we really needed it to.

So, what’s the trick? Know the ballpark of what your neighbours are paying.

Get friendly with the people next door, upstairs and down below and ask some questions around the condition of their dwelling and how much they pay a week. By doing this, I was able to determine that every other townhouse in my block were of similar, almost-new condition but each one paid less rent than what we were being asked to pay.

This information provided the basis we needed to go back to our real estate agent and negotiate a much fairer and palatable rent increase.  

So, before trigger-sending that ‘this is outrageous!’ email to your agent, go get friendly in your block and pen a rationale, fact-laden response. It could pay off big time.

Health insurance

Health insurance can be a costly inclusion, but you can save money if you shop around every 12 months. 

Most private health funds will have special prices for new members who sign up or offer a number of weeks for free. Some also reduce or completely waive waiting periods on Extras meaning that you can access specialist inclusions earlier which also saves you money. 


Furniture & household items

Buying and replacing household items and furniture can be super costly, especially when moving out of home for the first time. The biggest hack – don’t buy new! 

There are many pages online like Gumtree and your local Facebook Buy, Swap & Sell groups that allow for the sale of good quality pre-loved items, all of which you can get at reasonable prices. Lounges, TVs, desks, bookshelves, you name it. You can literally deck out a whole cost-effective place or space by doing some research and buying second-hand. My desk where I create my resin jewellery was purchased locally via Facebook and it is absolutely perfect for the space.

Image: Supplied.



This is a service that I know many households have no choice but to utilise, my family included. I also know that attending is beneficial for my youngest however, with ongoing sicknesses and public holidays, it can be incredibly expensive, especially if you have more than one child attending, and you're paying for days that they can’t attend. 

I have discovered, that if you tell you centre a number of weeks out from going on holidays, you may be able to access up to 50 per cent off each daily fee that your child is away. This is, of course, dependent on your centre’s policies, but definitely worth asking the question before expecting a fee decrease in the lead-up to your next trip to Fiji. 

Household expenses will always exist, so I highly recommend trying out some of these hacks. They will not only save you money, but also hopefully some peace of mind, too.

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