Financial management

Stop paying ‘lazy tax’ – 6 savvy spending hacks that save you thousands

- November 30, 2022 2 MIN READ
worried couple looking at bills

I’m not your go-to guy when it comes to small-scale spending hacks. In my mind, trying to save 50 cents here and there isn’t worth the time or effort it takes, and it also shifts your focus from abundance to scarcity, writes Steve McKnight, best-selling author of Money Magnet: How to Attract and Keep a Fortune that Counts.

Ways to avoid paying ‘lazy tax’

That said, here are a few suggestions for saving on some big-ticket spends. The tips are all based on avoiding paying a ‘lazy tax’, which is money you voluntarily pay when you forget to negotiate a better deal.

Home loan

Engage the services of a mortgage broker to see if they can find a lower interest rate loan. If they can, ask your current lender to match it, and if they won’t, move your business.

Even if you only negotiate a small discount, on a big loan, over a long time, the savings will be significant.

Energy providers

Make it a rule to price-shop your power at least once a year. Power providers are always dangling incentives and lower prices to get new sign-ups, and then hope you prefer the convenience of sticking with them rather than shopping round.

Insurance

As for energy providers, price shop your home and car insurance annually to see if you can get a better deal. Before changing, ask your current provider to price match, and if they can’t or won’t, then move.

Phone and internet

The rule is to pay for what you use, not what you don’t. Paying for data and speeds that you rarely use but want ‘just in case’ is flushing cash down the ‘toilie’. If you require more data or more speed for a special occasion, you can usually buy the extra needed by the block.

TV subscriptions

Keep one paid TV subscription at a time, for two months at a time. Binge watch the shows you like, then cancel and move on to the next TV subscription. You’ll get through six providers in 12 months, watch all the good shows, but only effectively pay for one membership.

Vices

Finally, name and number your vices and make the call on whether the cost is worth the benefit. It might not be an all-or-nothing decision, but rather a less-is-more mindset.

Here’s a few on the vice list to consider with the average weekly spend in after-tax dollars next to it (Wallis, 2021), which I have recalculated back to before-tax dollars, assuming a tax rate of 30 per cent.

  After Tax Before Tax
Spending Category Weekly Annual Annual
Recreation and culture $208 $10,816 $15,452
Hotels, cafes and restaurants $120 $ 6,240 $8,915
Alcoholic beverages $46 $2,392 $3,418
Cigarettes and tobacco $36 $ 1,872 $2,675

For instance, if your marginal tax rate is 30 per cent, then $10,816 in after-tax dollars requires $15,452 in pre-tax dollars.

If your spending isn’t under control, then it’s out of control, and that’s a problem because runaway spending repels money. To fix the problem, you need to learn and implement spending control.

This is an edited extract from Steve McKnight’s Money Magnet: How to Attract and Keep a Fortune that Counts (Wiley $32.95), now available at all leading retailers. Visit www.moneymagnet.au


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