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My 5 money saving tips to cut costs on everything from groceries to mortgage and exercise

Nicole's money-saving hacks will help put more cash in your back pocket.

We should all cheer the recent slowdown in inflation to 4.3 per cent. But, while the data looks promising, it shows a slowdown in the speed of price rises, not a decline in the cost of goods - they are still high and going up further.

So, today, I’m sharing my hip-pocket, household hacks. These are the top five money-saving categories where I am cutting costs, and how I’m doing it.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon poses in 3 shots with money saving hack la Roche posay, a trolly of Lindt chocolate and her low cost chicken bake
Inflation may have fallen, but saving money should still be high on the agenda. (Source: Supplied) (Samantha Menzies)

1. Cut-price exercise

Exercise is very important, not just for my physical health but also for stress levels and, therefore, mental health. So, keeping active and fit probably saves me untold money. My top savings tip if you too have a body niggle or have been injured in the past (I’ve had back issues since growing babies) is a GP health management plan through Medicare.

Also by Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon:

While a lot of people know they can get five of these for all sorts of services from allied health professionals, not many realise exercise physiology - for rehabilitation or preventing recurrence - counts.

You can snare five one-on-one sessions from a university-qualified physiologist – the best type of personal training – at $58.30 off. Have private health too? If you simply get your GP to sign a form saying your gym membership is medically necessary, you can claim $200 of its cost as well.

Except my gym membership, in my savings zeal, is long gone. I’m pounding the pavement in our beautiful country instead.

2. Far-cheaper food

Here, it’s not just about where you shop and what you buy but what you buy and where. I now purchase all our cheese and the bulk of our meat, in bulk, from Aldi. Below is my recreation of the viral three-ingredient recipe with Aldi’s $10 butterflied chicken. We’ve slashed our consumption of all costly varieties or cuts of protein.

Most of the other grocery items we prefer are cheaper at Woolworths than at Coles, while dishwasher tablets (and cards) get bought at dollar shops – you can get about a million for $20. And, wherever we are, we only buy items on sale and are no longer loyal to brands – unless it’s chocolate.

3. Spread out council rates

I wouldn’t normally advocate signing up to an official installment plan for a bill – these usually come with penalties in the form of higher prices or a loading. The better way is to ‘unofficially’ stash the cash that will be necessary down the track for these bills, from every single pay. (And stash it in an offset account beside your mortgage to double-save.)

But there is an exception when it comes to council rates. With one phone call, you should be able to instantly spread the bill across your monthly pay, without forking out any extra.

This is because council rates are actually paid in advance, not arrears, so you are simply giving your council the money as you incur the cost. Just check you won’t be forfeiting a pay-on-time discount.

4. Bargain beauty products

I am all about product swaps at the moment. And I’ve found that many premium beauty brands have decent chemist versions. For example, my biggest saving is on skincare. Over the years, dermatologists have persuaded even this miserly money expert into higher-priced products, largely from SkinCeuticals.

These products are great but, through trial and error, I have found that offerings from La Roche-Posay and CeraVa (both manufactured by L’Oreal) work just as well. Saving me more than $81 at a time, it’s no wonder these are seeing a huge surge in sales.

5. A market-leading mortgage

I will tell you the biggest secret to saving right now – and it’s about the main source of purse-string pain: your mortgage.

Refinancing to the cheapest, quality loan today saves the average Aussie, who has a $610,000 home loan, $618 a month.

Added to all the above, how much would that help?

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is the author of How to Get Mortgage-Free Like Me, available at www.nicolessmartmoney.com. Follow Nicole on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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