I know you’re sick of me always saying you need to constantly shop around for the best deals on everything. But it’s so important.
Those who have been following me for a while know my wife Libby is the world’s best when it comes to household finances… she has managed ours ever since we were married.
Her golden rule is that she never renews an insurance policy or pays an energy bill without checking to see if there is a better deal elsewhere. Her go-to comparison website in this hunt for a better deal has always been Compare the Market.
Some personal news
In some personal news, I’ve taken on the role of Economic Director at Compare The Market. I’m pretty excited about this as I’ll be providing commentary, insights and resources to CTM’s customers to help them through these tough economic times… similar to what I do in this newsletter.
Since leaving Sunrise I’ve been approached by a lot of major financial institutions to be an ambassador, but it didn’t quite sit right with me. I’ve always advised people to shop around for the best deal for them, no matter the institution.
That’s why CTM is such a great association for me as it helps Australians do exactly what I believe they should do – go to a comparison site and benchmark your bank, insurance and energy product against the rest of the market to make sure you’re getting the best deal… in other words, to ‘Compare The Market’.
It also helps that Libby, who manages our family budget, has been using CTM for nearly 10 years. She refuses to renew an insurance policy or rollover an energy plan until she compares the market for better deals.
And, as I’ve had a lot of experience with the Cash Cow, I think I can handle meerkats!
Steps to ensure you’re getting a good deal
1. Know your options
Make a list of all of the utilities and services you use and what you’re currently paying. Then note down exactly what you are getting for your money so it’s easy to compare like with like when you research what else is out there.
It’s definitely worth comparing the market. Companies often offer their best deals to new customers, leaving their long-time customers paying what’s known as a ‘loyalty tax’. If you’ve been with your current suppliers for a long time, chances are you’re going to save money if you shop around. If you’re keen to stay with your current supplier, knowing what’s being offered elsewhere can improve your ability to negotiate a better deal.
Savings can generally be made in these areas, but have a think about other services you use, too:
- Mobile phone plan
- Internet supplier
- Other loans
- Credit cards
- Home help like cleaners, gardeners, pool care
2. Use a comparison website
Comparison websites make it super easy to shop around for better deals. You can compare offers on things like insurance, credit cards, home loans, car loans, utilities and more. Knowing exactly what’s out there will give you more confidence to negotiate a better deal with your current supplier. Obviously, my preferred comparison site is Compare the Market, but you can also do a search for others.
3. Make the call
You can’t negotiate with a website, so be ready to phone up your supplier to talk about the information you’ve gathered. You’ve done your homework and know what’s out there (see above), so take a calm and friendly approach. Some tips for negotiating over the phone:
- Speak to the right person – the customer service representative who answers your call may not be the right person to offer you a better deal. Check in to make sure.
- Listen attentively – we can get so caught up in what we want to ask it can be easy to forget to listen to what the other party has to say.
- Repeat back – so you know exactly what is on offer, repeat back what the other party is saying from time to time.
- Be specific – once you’ve agreed a new deal, ask the company to outline exactly what the deal is and when the new arrangement will start (hopefully immediately).
- Follow up – ask for a follow up email outlining exactly what has been agreed over the phone. That way you have it in writing and there’s no ambiguity.
The extra rewards waiting for you
It’s not just savings you can negotiate either. I was interested in a recent study by Compare the Market on the extra rewards attached to a lot of the policies and plans out there. Insurers, energy retailers and telcos currently offer a variety of rewards to new and existing customers, including sign-up credits, discounts on dining, activities, holidays, gift cards and more.
One insurer even offers 10 per cent off your grocery bill once per month, which can be a lifeline given 32 per cent of Aussies believe their grocery shop is currently the biggest financial burden, ahead of mortgage repayments (24.1 per cent), rent (15.2 per cent) and energy costs (7.7 per cent).
Below are just some of the discounts Compare the Market have compiled across car insurance, home and contents insurance, health insurance and energy.
Get Kochie’s weekly newsletter delivered straight to your inbox! Follow Your Money & Your Life on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Read this next: