Welcome back to Savvy Shopper! This week we’re thinking green and stocking up on half-price essentials to save you hard-earned cash.

Pay half price

It makes sense to stock up on your pantry and household non-perishables when they’re at half price or less. Half Price is a clever free app (android, iOS) that tells you when your essentials are half off at Coles or Woolworths so you can pay less for toothpaste, peanut butter, toilet paper, tinned tomatoes… The app lets you build your own essentials grocery list so you can see at a glance which of your regular purchases are on sale and plan to stock up when you’re at the shops.

According to Canstar, the average weekly grocery bill for an Australian household is $153, of which we assume at least half ($76) is goods that can be stored (think: frozen, dried and tinned products, cleaning and personal hygiene). If you’re saving half of that, that could produce a saving of around $38 a week, or $1976 a year. The app has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 on the Apple store from more than 10,000 reviews, so it’s a pretty safe bet.

Get a green loan

Updating or building your home with sustainability in mind is one of the smartest things you can do to reduce your electricity/ water bills, as well as being a good move for the environment. While they’re a major upfront cost, additions like solar hot water systems, solar panels Insulation, rainwater tanks, double glazing and energy-efficient appliances will slash your bills in the future (and help save the world), so it may make sense to take out a loan to pay for them now.

“Green loans” are available for specifically this purpose, usually at a much lower interest rate than standard personal loans. Currently, the average unsecured green loan sits at 6.85%, compared to the average across all unsecured loans of 9.75%. If you’re borrowing $30,000 over five years, that’s $592 per month and $5515 total interest, rather than $634 per month and $8024 in interest – a saving of $2509 over five years. Community First Credit Union Green Loan is offering a 3.99% p.a. variable rate at the moment, though be wary of the upfront and monthly fees.

Take advantage of balance transfers

If you’re trying to topple credit card debt, a zero interest balance transfer can be a powerful tool. Essentially, it involves transferring the balance on your current credit card to another credit card that won’t charge you interest on that amount for an introductory period. You still have to make the monthly minimum payments, but you won’t be accruing interest, which makes it much easier to knock over the debt.

Right now, NAB is offering 0% p.a. for 32 months with no balance transfer fee on its Low Rate Credit Card, which reverts to 12.99% p.a. after that time. As a bonus, they’ll also waive the annual fee for the first year ($59 p.a. thereafter). On a credit card debt of $5000 at an interest rate of 20%, this will save you $1,989.63 over 32 months.

A very strongly worded caveat: if credit card debt is an issue for you, don’t just keep spending on this new credit card. Don’t store the details in your Apple Pay, don’t keep it in your wallet. Just hide it in your junk drawer and keep making the payments until the debt is gone.

Stay savvy, shoppers!

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