Welcome back to Savvy Shopper, where we’re saving money on home loans and spending it on enormous vet bills.

Suncorp’s cashbacks for home loan customers

New and existing home loan customers of Suncorp Bank who have a solar power system by 31 December may be eligible for a cash bonus from the bank.

To encourage the uptake and support of renewable energy, Suncorp Bank will offer new eligible home loan customers $3,000 cash back, while eligible existing customers with a solar power system installed can apply for $500 cashback.

This offer only applies to houses or townhouses, and is not available to customers who are refinancing existing Suncorp Bank loans or those with loan pre-approvals, however those with multiple properties with eligible solar systems, each financed by an existing Suncorp Bank home loan, might be able to claim the $500 cashback for each property.

To apply for the cashback, you will need proof of the solar system, such as an electricity bill with solar metering charge, but there is no minimum kW requirement.

There are a few other Ts&Cs, and there are many features to consider when choosing a home loan, but $3000 cash back in your pocket isn’t something to sniff at.


Lowest interest rate home loan

If you’re looking for something a bit more no-frills, Greater Bank is currently offering an insanely low 1.59 per cent. It’s a discounted two-year fixed rate for home buyers that’s available with just 10 per cent deposit and with a guarantor option available (NSW, QLD and ACT only).

The next lowest is U Bank at 1.79 per cent (which is still great). On a $500,000 loan, you’d be paying $1,752 a month to Greater Bank and $1800 to U Bank – saving you $48 a month or $576 a year.


Insure your pets

At Savvy Shopper HQ, we have a large, accident prone dog. When we got her, we started paying into our own “insurance fund”, a bank account just for canine emergencies. She’s managed to drain it (and then some) three times since we got her, so we decided to revisit the idea of pet insurance.

I used Choice’s comprehensive review of pet insurances and set the filters so that everything would be covered – both accident and illness, chronic conditions, hereditary conditions and bilateral conditions (meaning that if she has a knee injury, her other knees will still be covered), as well as an unlimited amount per year.

Only one policy stood up to my extensive filtering: newish addition to the market Trupanion. There are no payout limits or sublimits and there is a flexible excess (meaning you can adjust your excess and therefore premiums). It also has a 90 per cent benefit percentage, which is pretty good.

Their most popular product is $110.97 a month, with a $200 excess. It covers pretty much everything, except pre-existing conditions and exam or consultation fees.

Our current DIY insurance costs us $160 a month, and that money sits in our offset account to reduce the interest we pay on our property. When our girl nicked an artery last month, our vet bill was about $2200 (including her follow up a week later). It had been 11 months since she’d last had an accident, so there was about $1760 in her account, leaving us $440 out of pocket. Total cost to us: $2200.

In the same 11 months, if we’d had insurance, we would have paid $1120.67 into the fund. The excess would have been $200 and the 10 per cent that wasn’t covered by the policy would have been $210 – the $100 follow-up consultation wouldn’t have been covered. So in that instance we would have been $510 out of pocket. Total cost to us: $1630.67.

In this instance, we could have saved $569.33 (minus, of course, the benefit of having our DIY fund sit in our offset account). However, if the emergency vet bill was related to her pre-existing gut inflammation issues instead of an injury, we would have been $3320.67 out of pocket (vet bills plus insurance premiums).

While we’re still not convinced by pet insurance (we also like having the cash in her account as a buffer for other emergencies), Trupanion does seem like one of the better providers on the market so if you’d feel more comfortable insuring your furry friend, give them a look.

Stay savvy, shoppers.

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