Greetings, shoppers. This week, we’re celebrating a return to picnics with (fully vaccinated) friends so I’m finding clever ways to save money that I can then spend on snacks.

Do you need private health insurance?

I’ve finally done my tax for last year and was slugged with the Medicare levy surcharge for the first time. Now, for the record, if I’m using the public health system, I don’t mind paying a little extra into it to keep it working for everyone. But if it makes more tax sense for me to pay for a private health fund and use that instead (which reduces pressure on the public system), then I’ll do that. But does it make sense? The answer is a resounding maybe.

If I get a policy that costs less than the levy surcharge then I’ll save money. But because I’m over 31 (I’m not telling how much), I also need to account for the Lifetime Health Cover loading, which adds to the cost.

A basic hospital policy is usually enough to cancel out the levy surcharge but it doesn’t cover much outside of a hospital stay. Some people opt to add extras cover, but you’ve got to do the maths about whether the additional premiums will save you more than you’re spending – remember that it won’t cover 100% of most treatments or services and hidden costs are everywhere. There are other benefits to taking out private health insurance – shorter waiting times, choice of doctor and private rooms in hospital – but you’ll need to read the fine print on any potential policy.

For the last financial year, if I’d held the cheapest eligible health insurance policy (one which doesn’t offer much in the way of cover), I might have saved myself $199 for the year. However, as a freelancer, my income is charmingly referred to as “lumpy”, which means it’s possible that in any given year, taking out a policy might end up costing me more than the tax without offering any real benefits.

Choice offers a useful quiz you can take to see if health insurance is a smart move for you, but it might also be worth talking to your accountant.

Save on dinner time

Meal kits have never been more popular (including at Savvy Shopper HQ) than they are now. They’re a great way to avoid going to the shops, whether that’s for COVID or laziness reasons, and they’re good for expanding the repertoire.

Hello Fresh, which was the first mainstream meal kit on the Australian market, and Marley Spoon are probably the most popular, but they’re also the more expensive ones of the major players. Dinnerly is Marley Spoon’s cheaper little sister and is close on the popularity scale, but the cheapest option is EveryPlate.

At Savvy Shopper HQ, we opt for the three meals for two people option (ie. six servings) a week. For that box plus delivery, you can expect to pay:

Marley Spoon $78.99

Hello Fresh $75.93

Dinnerly $53.49

EveryPlate $48.93

That’s a saving of $30.06 every week ($1563.12) if you choose EveryPlate over Marley Spoon. It’s worth considering that while all meal kits expect you to have pantry ingredients such as salt, pepper, vinegar and cooking oils on hand, the lower cost models want you to supply other staples such as mayonnaise, egg and garlic, so factor that into your decision making.

And, as much as we’re enjoying the lower cost boxes, there’s no doubt that Marley Spoon and Hello Fresh are a little bit fancier.

Expand your wardrobe – without expanding your wardrobe

For those of us who have spent long months in lockdown wearing leggings and Oodies, there is a certain excitement about getting dressed again and it’s tempting to go on a shopping spree in anticipation of spring and summer events. However, buying special occasion outfits, which you’ll likely only get a few wears out of, isn’t always the savviest option. If you can’t borrow something from a friend for an event, look into renting an outfit.

Glam Corner offers a large range of designer clothing that you can borrow for four or eight days. If you don’t like what you’ve ordered or it doesn’t fit, return it and they’ll give you a refund. After your event, just pop the clothes in the prepaid return bag and return to the company where they’ll handle the dry cleaning. A Bec + Bridge mini dress that retails for $250 can be yours for a week for just $59. If you wanted a new outfit for a fancy event every month, that could save you $2292 a year – as well as reducing buyer’s remorse, wardrobe clutter and textile wastage.

True fashion hunters should look at a membership. The unlimited plan, for $149 a month, lets you borrow as many boxes (of three items) as you like, and lets you keep them as long as you want. This option also includes the services of a personal stylist as a bonus.

Stay savvy, shoppers!

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