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3 switches that will reduce mortgage stress

Save at least one interest rate increase worth of mortgage payments by making these easy switches.

Logo Element - Black-1 11 MIN READ | By Andrew Mote | Updated on 8 March 2024

With the inflation still considerably above the Reserve Bank of Australia's 2-3% target, it could be some time before interest rates begin to retreat. Where their final resting place sits is anyone’s guess. After all, opinions are like… Let’s just say that everyone (this author included) has got one.

At the time of writing, the RBA had increased the cash rate target 13 times to a level 4.25% higher than the emergency setting lows of 2020 and 2021.

Statistics in these kinds of articles are always fraught with danger, as every homeowner purchased at a different time, with a different mortgage term (e.g. 30 years), with different features (e.g. offset, fixed rate) and for a different amount.

However, with the average Australian owner-occupier mortgage approaching $600,000, the interest component alone (not repayments) will have increased by approximately $2,125 per month during this time. Just one of the 0.25% increases, passed on in full, equates to $125 per month.

We now have an overly simplistic, but directionally correct target. Now to the fun part. How do we save $125 per month to offset the RBA’s most recent increase.

Let’s get to work.


You’ve probably heard this one a thousand times, but most of us haven’t done anything about it. Changing your internet, mobile and energy providers can save you a fortune.

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We don’t do it because it involves pulling out past bills, looking at our existing daily and usage charges, scraping the web for what’s on offer and putting it all into a giant spreadsheet.


The thing is, most people can get most of the benefit, just by calling their electricity and gas provider and asking them to put them onto their best in-market plan.

This author moved into his new house 9 months ago and kept his existing provider, Momentum Energy, for both gas and electricity. It turns out that updating to in-market pricing, for exactly the same plans is estimated (based on the most recent bills) to save him $600-800 per year or $50-66 per month.

While this switch could have been completed online, sometimes prices do go up, so it’s nice to have a second set of eyes run over the numbers before you make the switch and it ends up costing you money. The good news is that a call to Momentum took 30 minutes, of which 15 was on sitting on hold. The agent was more than happy to check the details and make the switch.

$50 per month for 15 minutes of actual work. Not a bad start, but we’re just getting going here.

Home internet

Let’s talk mobile phone and internet. In September 2023, there were close to 8.8 million NBN internet connections. The three most popular download speed tiers were 25 Mbps (18%), 50 Mbps (42.5%) and 100 Mbps (25.5%), so this is where we’ll spend our attention.

For the 25 Mbps plan, just over 50% of connections were with Telstra (Basic nbn) at $85 per month. TPG’s NBN25 is the next most popular plan at $70 per month. But taking it one step further, Superloop’s Everyday 25/10 is just $65 per month.

For the 50 Mbps plan, just under 50% of connections were with Telstra (Essential nbn) at $95 per month. Optus’ Plus Everyday nbn 50 is the next most popular plan at $85 per month, but TPG’s NBN50 is just $75 per month.

For the 100 Mbps plan, 36% of connections were with TPG (Essential NBN100) at $90 per month. Optus’ Plus Everyday nbn 100 is the next most popular plan at $99 per month, but Superloop’s Family 100/20 is just $85 per month.

While everyone’s circumstances are different, a saving of at least $10 per month should be achievable.

The best way to approach this, is to change providers rather than dropping speed tiers. There are some circumstances where certain providers offer better network performance (typical evening speeds) and customer service (e.g. when moving homes), but they just aren’t relevant for most people. If you’re not happy, simply switch again.

Mobile phone

When it comes to your mobile phone plan, I’m going to be blunt. If you’re a Telstra, Optus or Vodafone customer, you’re getting ripped off. According to the ACCC, the average person uses 12.8gb in data per month, so let’s take a look at your options.

The Telstra’s Basic plan (SIM only) costs $62 per month and includes 50gb of data. Optus’ Small Choice Plus plan (SIM only) includes 30gb and costs $49 per month. Finally, Vodafone’s Small (SIM only) plan includes 50gb for $49 per month.

Now before you say, “Telstra has the best coverage”, stop right there. You’re right, but that doesn’t mean you’re using it. I must have 5G! Maybe, but just remember that even a 4K Netflix stream pulls down at just 15Mbps and 4G networks are generally fast enough to maintain that speed in the real world.

Aldimobile (Telstra’s wholesale network, with reduced coverage) and amaysim (Optus’ wholesale network) are regularly favoured by Choice’s ( experts. They offer 4G plans with sufficient data at $20-25 per month (and both have the option of 5G at an added cost).

But we can do better than that. This author’s tip is Boost Mobile, which uses all of Telstra’s network, meaning you get the same coverage as being on a Telstra plan. There is a 150Mbps speed cap, but that is still ludicrously fast for most people.

Boost’s cheapest 12 month plan comes with 170gb (equating to 14gb per month) and 5G for… $230 (effectively $20 per month). For those that need more data, simply recharge early or take one of the plans with more included data.

Just to clarify, that’s a $42 per month saving if you’re switching from Telstra’s cheapest plan.

Before you race out, Woolworths’ Everyday Mobile uses Telstra’s wholesale network (reduced coverage), but comes with hidden easter egg. Scroll down to the shopping section to find out more.

Once you’re ready to make the switch, grab a SIM from the nearest supermarket. It takes less than 5 minutes on the web and your existing provider will be automatically notified. Within a few hours, your old service will stop working and you can put in your new Boost Mobile SIM. Your number should be the same and now you’re $42 richer.

Cumulative savings = $102 per month


According to Canstar, Australian households spend on average $160 per week on groceries, which equates to $693 per month or $8,320 per year. While shelf prices have been increasing and are not something in your control, there are a couple of options that go beyond going taking a fine tooth comb to the weekly specials and visiting all three supermarket chains each week.

Let’s start with the easy one. If you’re one of the millions of Australians that are a member of your state’s Royal Automotive Club, then you’re in luck. Most provide a little known benefit to members in the form of discounted digital gift cards. One example is that the RACV and NRMA offer Woolworths gift cards at a 4% discount.

By purchasing these in advance, the average Australian household would save almost $28 on their grocery shop each month.

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Speaking of Woolworths, if you’ve taken out a mobile plan with Woolworths Mobile or pay $70 per year for an Everyday Extra membership, you’ll also have access to 10% off on shop at the supermarket each month.

Even if you’re not trying to get too cute by bringing items from visits later in the month, the average Australian will still save $16 per month on that one shop. That’s $192 per year or $122 after paying for the annual membership. Another $10 per month saved.

Leaving the supermarket car park, we’re $38 per month better off. Feels good, right?

Before you drive home let’s talk about filling up the car a little smarter. Petrol price cycles don’t make sense, but from the top to the bottom there can be as much as 40c per litre difference. Miss the bottom of the cycle and within a couple of days you could be paying $20 more on a 50 litre fill.

While the ACCC has been at a loss to explain why these fuel cycles exist, their number crunching boffins maintain a webpage that shows you where we are in the cycle and if it is a good time to fill up. Favourite it and take a quick look once a week so you can plan your fill/top up.

Next step, hacking the cycle to get the best price. Before we get started, download the My 7-Eleven app to your phone. When you log in, you’ll see a ‘Fuel Lock’ button.

Fuel Lock searches for prices among the five closest 7-Eleven branded petrol stations and let’s you lock in the best price for use within the next 7 days. This allows you to get a better price than the 7-Eleven you are sitting right next to, and delay the price rise for another week.

This author uses Fuel Lock in a few different ways. The first is to avoid having to drive around to get the best price when the tank is almost empty. The second is to lock in lower prices when across the other side of town or when on holiday for use when he gets home. The final, and most useful, is to be able to get another week of lower prices to make sure he’s filling up with as close to a full tank of cheap fuel as possible.

In 2022, 7-Eleven reported that the average user is saving 18c per litre and $6.89 per fill, but there are frequent reports on social media of users saving $15-20 per fill. Finger in the air, there’s a $10 per month saving here for most motorists here.

Cumulative savings = $150 per month


Insurance is a necessary evil.

We only see and feel its benefits when something goes wrong and then we’re relieved, rather than jubilant. It’s also enormously complex to compare insurance policies, so most of us choose an insurer and pay the bill each year. Unfortunately, this means most of us are leaving money on the table.

Here we’re going to look at health insurance and car insurance, but the same principles apply to all forms of insurance like home and contents, pet and income protection.

Our first tip is to ‘right size’ your coverage. Insurance designed to protect us for the worst possible scenario where we can’t afford the surgery or complete replacement/rebuild of a car or home. For this reason, lowering your annual premiums by being ‘underinsured’ doesn’t represent real savings. You’re effectively robbing Peter to pay Paul.

If you do find that you’re over insured, reducing your coverage amount should reduce your premium and you can pocket the savings.

Less risky and easier to quantify is the savings to be found by increasing your excess. That is, by increasing the amount you have to pay when you make a claim can significantly reduce your annual premium.

According to the FCAI In 2023, the Toyota RAV4 was the best selling car (excluding utes) in Australia. Imagining a world where this author purchased a new RAV4 in 2023, comprehensive insurance with a $700 excess would cost $1863 per year. Increasing the excess to $2000 reduced the premium to $1304, a saving of $559 or $47 per month.

Around 45% of the Australian population has private health insurance coverage for hospital treatment. On one of the many bronze tier hospital products for singles in the market a $250 excess had a monthly premium of $164. Increasing the excess to $750 reduced the monthly premium to $132, a saving of $32 per month.

As can be seen, this strategy can save you a considerable amount of money every month if applied to all of your insurances. Before you pull the trigger, it is important that you consider your personal circumstances.

Have you recently had health problems and are likely to need be admitted to hospital? Can you afford the higher excess in the unlikely event you have an accident and are at fault?

Cumulative savings = $229 per month


With $229 of cumulative monthly savings, we’ve well exceeded our one interest rate rise worth interest repayments. Remember that some of the examples like fuel, mobile phone and insurances have been calculated based on a single person. If you’re in a couple, you could double these savings.

Don’t be afraid to apply this philosophy to other regular bills and services. Just remember to be wary of comparison sites that receive commissions and always consider your own personal circumstances before making the switch.

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