Our best money saving hacks for union members.
Barely a day goes by when we don’t read about the cost-of-living crisis, interest rate rises, energy bills and inflation. The fact is – we don’t need to read the headlines, we’re all living it. Living in Australia costs more than it did a year ago and our wages haven’t risen enough to cope with it.
While members of the United Workers Union fight to increase Award wages (you can read more about that here), we’ve compiled our best money-saving hacks to help you right now.
Tip 1: Work out where your money is going
In order to think of ways to save money, you need to know where you’re spending it. Sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and look through your last few months of statements. You can use a budget planner like this one from Money Smart. Once you’ve got all the facts out there, you can work out where you might find savings.
When you’ve had a look at what you’re paying for, work out what you don’t need and find some quick wins.
- Do you need to watch those four streaming services a month or could you cut down to one or two?
- Could you cut back on using food delivery apps or even delete them, and instead put some tasty premade meals in your freezer for when you are too tired to cook?
- Replace that paid fitness class with one of the many free ones, offered by your local council?
When you think about what you’re spending, there might be obvious places where you can pay less and save money.
Also, be sure to always check your payslips and make sure you’re being paid for all the time you’re working and you get the correct rates, including penalties and loadings. If you’re an UWU member and need help to recover unpaid wages, get in touch with us.
Tip 2: Maximise your tax deductions
Another area you might find savings is at tax time when you look at your deductions. Are there any work-related deductions you might claim, like clothing specific to your job (chef’s pants), protective clothing (steel capped work boots) or laundry expenses for eligible work clothes? Don’t forget to keep your receipts.
You can also claim subscriptions to trade, business or professional associations and your union fees.
Tip 3: Buy seasonal and local
Food is always a big expense, but there are ways you can easily save money. When you head to the supermarket, try to buy the food that is currently in season. Working out what’s in season is usually quite easy as it’s the cheapest produce. Often, it’s also discounted as they have lots of it.
If you want to go a step further, you could even join a food hub or co-op like Box Divvy or buy your fresh produce from local growers’ markets. This way you’re buying from local growers and cutting out the middleman, so you get a better deal.
Tip 4: Buy in bulk
Often staples like tins, flour, oats, seeds and nuts are cheaper when you buy in bulk. When you have all the staples already at home, you’re more likely to cook with what you have, so it will save you money in the long run.
Tip 5: Buy on sale
If you’re in the market for a new electrical or homewares item, you might keep an eye on sales from JB HiFi or The Good Guys. But there is a way you’re guaranteed to pay the lowest price…if you’re a union member.
It’s through a website called Union Shopper which is a not-for-profit union owned rewards program that helps you get a better deal. If you’re a member of United Workers Union and hundreds of other unions, you can sign up at their website or by calling 1300 368 117.
According to Union Shopper Executive Officer Andrew Tait, they can command the best price from the marketplace because of the large amount of union members they have on board.
“All we’re doing is using the power of the collective, all members together into one big account, and then I can negotiate with the service providers,” he explained.
It means you can scour the website for thousands of the best deals or call the Union Shopper Call Centre and find out what sort of offer they can get for you.
Tip 6: Get discounts on gift cards
It’s not just the big-ticket items either. We all know that you could read all the catalogues each week or head to the shops later in the day for meat and fish special buys. But what if you could get a guaranteed discount off your shop each time you shopped?
With Union Shopper, you can buy gift cards at 5% – 15% off for supermarket, alcohol and hardware retailers. You can literally save money every time you buy groceries.
Tip 7: Look for a better deal
The easiest way to save money is to pay less for the same thing. If you’ve been with your utilities, phone or internet provider for a while, you might pay a ‘loyalty tax’. They often provide better deals for new customers, so you can either ask for a lower rate or simply vote with your feet and choose another provider.
This can mean looking for a better deal for utilities, the internet or streaming services. You can even talk to your bank about the best interest rate for your home loan. And if your bank won’t match the rates of competitors, consider refinancing with another lender. Some lenders will even pay a cash refinance rebate or cashback offer to move over to them.
Check out comparison websites like Australian Government’s Energy Made Easy website, Canstar Blue or Finder to compare a whole range of services. UWU members can also access clean, sustainable & affordable electricity through our not-for-profit energy retailer Co-Power and get $50 off your bill if you refer a friend.
Tip 8: Reduce your energy consumption
With energy rates skyrocketing, sometimes even the simplest things can reduce our energy consumption and the cost of our bills. Try to be as efficient as possible when using heating and cooling. Only heat or cool the room you’re using and try to keep the temperature constant with blinds, curtains and even door snakes to reduce the draughts in winter.
Run your big appliances like the washing machine or dishwasher at night when there are off-peak rates. Make sure they’re full and that you use cold water for the washing machine.
Any appliance that has a standby mode is using power even if you’re not using it. These include the tv, printer, router and even your phone when it’s charged. Turn them off at the wall when you can.
Tip 9: Make sure you have the right level of insurance
It’s important you also make sure you’re getting the right insurance for your needs.
- Are you under or over insured for the value of your house, contents or car?
- Is your health insurance the right level for your age and health?
- Could you be claiming anything that you’re not already, like gym fees or sport shoes?
Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting and change if it doesn’t suit you anymore.
Tip 10: Shop around for insurance
While we’re on the topic of insurance, make sure you do a comparison to see if you’re getting the right deal when your insurance next expires.
If you’re a low income earner, you might be eligible for cheaper insurance through Good Insurance which has simpler policies for people on lower incomes.
You can even look for better deals through Union Shopper. There is an insurance category with discounts on home, auto, life and health insurance for union members. Another way being a union member saves you money!
If you’d like to learn more about how being a union member can help you win better pay, head to our main website. And if you’re already a member and want a better deal on a huge range of goods and services, head to Union Shopper.
If you are struggling with debt, check out the National Debt Helpline. They have practical suggestions, info about your rights and a helpline so you can talk to financial counsellors.