By Cost of Living Expert, Joel Gibson

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that being a parent is expensive. Whether it is the latest tech, formula, or rash cream (for you and the baby), living the lifestyle you want can be pricy.

Fortunately, you could have your cake and eat it too – If you do a little digging. Cost of Living Expert and author of Kill Bills!, Joel Gibson, has given us a roundup of his top five insider money saving hacks you should add to your 2021 resolutions.

Joel recommends shaking up your bills with some simple alterations.

Spend less on power bills

Energy bills were up between 10 per cent and 30 per cent in 2020 thanks to the pandemic, so we’ve been paying through the nose for electricity and gas – even more than usual!

If you watch your aircon usage, you can get your energy costs down in 2021 pretty quickly. Every extra degree on the thermostat adds about 10 per cent or $100 to the annual bill.

So, if you keep an eye on that, as well as use the excellent government comparison website (VIC) (NSW, SE QLD, SA and ACT), you can switch to the cheapest offers around and it’s so easy to switch energy suppliers once you’ve looked into it.

It’s possible to save a lot of money on incoming bills with some simple alterations.

Stop settling on your mobile phone plan

Many parents stay with the mobile plan their parents set them up with, and so on. They rarely look into them and ask whether they can get a better deal. And if there’s a good time to start looking into it, it’s now.

There’s a mobile price war going on right now, so there are big savings available. The ACCC says, “Mobile prices fell by 17 per cent during 2019-20 entirely due to a reduction in the price of entry level plans and particularly significant growth in data allowances and other inclusions”.

So, basically, now’s the time to cash in. I just switched to amaysim, for example, and I’m getting over 50GB for $30 a month with unlimited international calls and SMS to 28 countries. Before, I was getting 30GB for $35 with Optus. You can take your number with you and it costs nothing to move. The same goes for phone plans for your little ones.

Put some money in an account and let the magic of compound interest do its thing

Compound interest is the “eighth wonder of the world,” Einstein said. “He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.”

So be one of the smart ones; put some money – whatever you can afford – in an account for each of your kids and invest it in a so-called “index fund” that tracks the market.

Don’t try and pick stocks or beat the experts; just bet on the market as a whole going up over the next two decades and you could give them a great leg-up for university or a home deposit or whatever they might need to get started in life.

Now is a good time to look at your mobile phone plan and see if you can make savings by possibly changing providers.

Don’t pay all the streaming services at the same time (We’re all guilty of this)

Thank God for streaming TV and movies. How would we have gotten through home schooling without them, right?!

But there’s no need to pay for them all if you want to watch all the best shows. It’s a little-known fact that you can turn them on and off like a TV.

They’ll work for the rest of the month you’ve paid for and then stop. You can then turn them back on down the track if you want to watch some new shows on that service.

So be strategic: pick the movies and TV shows that you and the kids want to watch on Netflix and watch those for a month or two, then cancel it and watch the best of Stan, then Disney+ and Amazon Prime.

Buy in bulk and save

The bigger kids get, the more they eat and one of the solutions to saving money on your grocery bill is to buy in bulk anything that’s non-perishable.

A Costco membership costs $70 a year but if you live near an outlet you could save that amount in a single visit if you stock up on household essentials for the next few months.

They also have the cheapest petrol in Australia – but only for members. You can also buy in bulk when it comes to modern-day essentials such as data and streaming.

Mobile carriers like amaysim now offer data plans for your phone or tablet that feature, for example, 125GB to use over 6 months for $100 – that works out to about $17 a month for about 20GB.

Streaming services such as Amazon Prime, for example, cost $84 a year if you pay monthly but $59 a year if you pay annually – so this is an alternative way to save on those costs.