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Selling, scrapping, comping: 7 clever ways families are fighting inflation

Compilation image of recycling cans, kids swimming lesson, airbnb logo and someone taking photos of clothes on an iPhone.
It's a little known fact that if you have private health you may be able to claim your kids swimming lessons. (Source: Getty) (Samantha Menzies)

The average $500,000 mortgage has become almost $200 more expensive in the space of a month.

At the same time, the price of everything from petrol to petite leaves is stupidly surging.

The hit to families’ hip pockets has been acute and has happened almost overnight.

But what can you do to fight back? To make – and keep – extra money?

Read more from Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon:

Aussies are collecting, selling, letting, comping… and getting really clever.


Here are seven ways they’re doing it.

1. Sell clothes on socials

Spending a few hours ‘sorting’ your wardrobe could sort your finances. In fact, it could earn you weeks and weeks of replacement salary.

For real.

And that goes doubly if you have a disposition for the ‘designer’.

One of the big positives of social media is the social and environmentally responsible thread.

And the sustainability extends well into clothes.

Use hashtags like #resalenotretail and, yep, #shopmywardrobe. And stayed tuned for our real-life lesson in how and where you get the best prices, in my next column.

Possible income boost: How long is a piece of, umm, cotton?

2. Collect aluminium cans and bottles

Container deposit schemes are massive in most states. Help the environment and your income.

The typical 10 cents for your contribution is often deposited directly into your bank account. Or, say, your PayPal digital wallet.

And it doesn’t matter whether it’s cans or plastic bottles.

Cashing in on containers is just a matter of figuring out your closest deposit – or reverse vending machine in NSW or Queensland – station.

Possible income boost: Many devotees report earning $200 a week.

3. Upgrade to scrap metal

“My son-in-law started with 10c bottles but a few years back worked out he’d get more money with metal scrapping,” says a woman from Queensland.

“He rides around collecting left-out items from the curb side (in Brisbane) like old microwaves or fans and then scraps the metal and takes it to a metal scrapper to get a set amount per kilogram.

Possible income boost: “He makes big money in the school holidays in particular. Sometimes $200 or more.”

4. Renting rooms or Airbnb

Spare room? That’s just leaving spare cash on the table… and I don’t mean yours.

Talk to 10 people, and one of them will say they’re doing this.

Check local listings for market prices and think about what will work – in reality – in your household.

And just watch your tax. If you earn an income from your property, there are both annual tax and eventual capital gains tax implications.

But be aware, on the accommodation front, people are doing all sorts of conscientious and clever cash-saving things, including walking their flatmate’s dogs to get a rent discount.

Possible income boost: Significant. Depending on demand in your area, you may be able to rent a room for $250 a week.

Teenager showing anxiety holding bill on yellow background
The cost of living is surging and there is no end in sight. (Source: Getty) (Getty Images)

5. Win stuff

Another Queensland mother of two wins big – as in clothes, household goods, luxuries, holidays, and even an 85 inch curved TV. It saves a fortune on the fun things in life.

She has a simple piece of advice: “Just enter – most people don’t.”

“I don’t actually have any secret formula but it’s an odds thing. If you enter lots, you’ll win some but most people never enter so they’ll never win.”

“I used to win loads in 25 words or less competitions but these days I get the most from simply Insta tagging people.”

Possible income saving: Our comping queen says her family keeps a small fortune but has a far better lifestyle than it otherwise would.

6. Money back for kids swimming lessons – or gym membership

This one is for people who hold health insurance. Which you should if you earn more than $90,000 as a single or $180,000 as a couple.

If you hit these thresholds and don’t have private hospital cover, you will pay the Medicare levy surcharge which is pretty much the same as the cost of that cover. You may as well get the benefits.

But if you have private health, are you claiming kids swimming lessons?

And if you don’t pay for swimming lessons, but have a gym membership yourself along with some kind of body niggle, you could also get a partial refund from your fund.

Possible income boost: Typically $200 per person is available for each under a category called something like health management (you need your GP to sign a form saying gym membership is medically necessary).

The payment may top out at, perhaps, $400 a year.

But who couldn’t do with $400 right now?

7. Your tax refund in every pay

Most people wait a year, or more like a year and a half, to get an average $2,400 tax refund.

Why would you let the tax office keep your money… and not even pay you interest on it?

Instead, ready for the new tax year, fill out a withholding variation form on the ATO website.

This quite literally varies the PAYG that is withheld each pay down to a level that will make it accurate for the deductions you claim.

Just don’t underestimate how much tax you will owe or you’ll find yourself having to repay money.

Possible income boost: Your money now, which could be far better than later.

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

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