Spending Shakedown – Home

Published on January 20, 2018 2:24 am, by

Spending on the home is a major category of spending for many people – especially people that own their own home. In fact, spending data from the ABS shows that the average spend xxxx. Like many spending categories we think the keys to reducing your spending in this category are to set a budget based on what you can afford and then find ways of getting the best value for every dollar you spend.

Home Improvement



This category usually includes things like cleaning supplies, cleaning agents, tea-towels, cloths and mops. For most people it will be difficult to separate this type of spending from general Grocery spending. But if you can separate it there are 3 obvious ways to make savings:

  • Find cheaper alternatives than the big name cleaning agents – including simple, natural alternatives
  • Shop around and get things on sale
  • Buy in bulk – these types of products are generally much cheaper in bulk

There is a heap of web sites available with hints and tips on cheap, simple, natural cleaners. Some examples include:

  • xxxxx
  • xxxxx

To shop around and buy these products on sale, keep an eye out for the catalogues or use a web site like Lassoo.

If you cant separate these costs from your general Grocery spending then have a look at our tips on spending less on Groceries – the key ones are:



When it comes to purchasing appliances – big and small – research, price matching and haggling are your three best friends.

Google is a great tool for researching prices. Just enter the details of what you are looking for and generally you’ll see a range of prices. If you have a preferred or local retailer just having access to the best available price can give you a good point to start negotiating or haggling. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for the best possible price. Just asking will usually see at least a small discount offered immediately. you might also check to see if the retailer will give you a better price if you pay cash (assuming you can afford to pay cash). Retailers usually have to pay credit card providers and buy now pay later providers a fee for credit purchases so they will always have some margin to play with if you are paying cash.

Not all stores will match online prices but it’s a great starting price to negotiate. Department stores (like Myer & David Jones) will usually match prices with other physical stores and their online sites (but not stand alone online retailers). Retailers like JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman are more likely to match both online and physical store prices. Unfortunately, it can seem to depend on who you speak with on the day you are looking to purchase.

Once you have found the product you want and sourced the best price, it’s also worth checking to see if your can purchase a discounted eGift Card for the store you are buying from.

It’s also worth checking online stores such as Appliances Online and if you don’t mind a scratch or a ding, Seconds World may be your thing, sometimes with an additional 30-50% off the cheapest price elsewhere. Or you could consider ebay or Grays Online for discounted, second hand, liquidation or auction goods.

Don’t forget Price Protection Insurance you might also have on your credit card. This can give you peace of mind about the price you pay.


Investment Property Expenses

In a practical sense, the Investment Property expenses we have are likely to be similar to other Home Expenses and Services & Utilities expenses, with the exception of Agent Fees and Repairs & Maintenance expenses. Some of your Investment Property expenses, including things like council rates and strata fees are not really negotiable.

So for tips on reducing spend on most Investment Property expenses refer to the other expense sub categories under Home spending or have a look at our tips for Services & Utilities.

To save money on Agent Fees:

  • Do your homework and no what other deals are available in your local market
  • Consider disruptive new offers from startup property management businesses
  • Consider doing it yourself

Contact agents in your local area and check to see what they charge. To shortcut this process you can try and online service like LocalAgentFimder or Open Agenr. Most charge a set percentage of the rent on your investment property. Typically this will be about 10%, but you’ll find agents charging as little as 4% and as much as 15%.  In our experience service levels vary significantly between different agents – so price won’t be the only thing to consider when selecting an agent.

Traditional agents usually charge a percentage of rent but new disruptive property management businesses sometimes have different pricing models. Examples include Different who charge a flat $100 per month

If you want the cheapest option and you have the time to do it you can always manage the property yourself. The tools you need to do this are all readily available. The best starting point for these is, in:

If you are using an agent to manage your investment property they will generally steer you toward using their trades people if repairs or maintenance are required on your property. Sometimes, if an emergency repair is required or you can’t be contacted you may have no choice but to use them. If the job is less urgent it’s probably wise to do some research and get some quotes from other trades people.

If you include interest and fees and charges on your investment property loans in this category it pays to review these every couple of years. It’s unlikely that your lender has you on the best rate available or the rate they are offering to new customers. To keep your lender honest you need to be willing to research the market and negotiate with them every couple of years.


Furniture & Art

For most people Furniture & Art is not a significant or recurring category of spend. If you do spend a lot on Furniture & Art, or you need to, here are some things to consider:

  • Set a budget for what you need and stick to it
  • If possible, avoid “special deals” from retailers offering interest free periods. With most of these deals you will be punished severely if you don’t make the required payments.
  • Think about what you will use most and what you’ll get the most satisfaction from. It might be worth spending a bit more on these things and looking for cheaper options for the other things. Sometimes having a few nice pieces of furniture and using “budget” alternatives for the others works better than having a house full of “average” furniture
  • Consider buying second hand – you’ll save a fortune compared to the price of new things
  • If you are going to buy new, and you can wait, wait until things are on sale – usually the end of financial year in June or in January


Housekeeping & Gardening

Regular Housekeeping and Gardening expenses generally indicate that you have somebody into your home to assist you with maintaining your house and garden.

If you are looking to find somebody new ordinarily finding somebody local who is independent will work out less costly for you than going through an agency. Of course, the risk associated with employing somebody this way is generally higher – so you should always do some checking up. Often a referral can be the best way to find somebody reliable.

If you currently have somebody working for you and are looking to reduce your expenses, the three ways of doing this are through either negotiating a lower rate, reducing the hours they spend working for you or finding somebody new. Do some research on the going rate in your area for these types of services, and be sure that your offer is reasonable as if you are looking to reduce the hourly rate, you are looking to reduce somebody’s direct income.



People have a variety of reasons to pay for storage. The most obvious way to reduce your spending is to check that you are on the best rate you can possibly get. If you can find a cheaper rate elsewhere, we suggest asking your current provider to match that. Unless if it’s a significant saving the hassle of moving your things, may negate any savings you would otherwise make on changing facilities.

At an average of $150 per month for storage, this leaves you with the option of questioning your need for the storage and either reducing it or eliminating it entirely will be the best way to reduce this expense.

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Jen is an experienced banking professional who loves wine, coffee, finding a bargain and of course her three beautiful children. Since Jen's first budget led her to buy a home at 20, Jen has passionately helped others to make better decisions with their money.

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