6 min read

Practical tips for reducing housing expenses in 2023

These little changes can help you manage your household budget this winter.
By · July 6, 2023
Practical tips for reducing housing expenses in 2023

Over the past year, New Zealand has witnessed a steady rise in the cost of living, with housing expenses being a significant contributor. As the price of basics increases, it’s harder to make your living expenses go as far. What shouldn’t be overlooked is small changes in your day-to-day lives. Here are some ways your household can gain more control over your budget.

Rent your space out whenever you can

Many people think renting a room out is only for people with an investment property or separate sleep out. However, there are a few ways you can make sites like AirBnB and Book a Bach work for you, even with limited space at home.

You can still benefit from listing your house if you don’t have a spare room. Air BnB lets you list your home for rent as long as you’d like. Why not earn a little more while the kids are away for a weekend or the house is empty over the holidays?

A two-bedroom home in Wellington can earn you up to $250 a night. That's $1,750 a week!

Do the math on working from home

Working from home has become increasingly common. While it offers flexibility and potential savings on fuel costs, it's important to consider the overall impact on your budget. While no one wants to restrict how much they heat their home, working from home could cost you more than you'd think. Take the time to do the math and assess what it actually costs you to work from home versus working in the office.

While you might save money on fuel by avoiding the daily commute, you might also be spending more to keep your home warm during the winter. With the increased usage of heating throughout the day, your energy bills could see a noticeable rise. Other perks to consider are any free services or food you use during the day like paid lunches, snacks, and drinks.

Make sure you’re claiming all your expenses

If you’re a freelancer, heating your home is all on you. But there are still ways to save! Make sure you’re claiming a portion of your electricity, gas, Wi-Fi and any other bills that your freelance business uses in your yearly expenses.

You should also be claiming any expenses that you use during the workday that a regular office would supply. Any milk, coffee, tea, stationery and bathroom supplies you use for work purposes are all tax deductible. To make it easy to stay on top of these expenses, shop for work-related groceries once or twice a month and pay for these items with a separate credit card or bank account linked to your business. You’ll need to keep the receipts for tax purposes too. You can write these costs off at the end of the tax year and save a little bit more money.

Negotiate your utility bills

Many energy companies have increased their daily electricity charges just in time for winter. Make sure you’re getting the best deal on electricity and gas rather than just staying with your standard provider. Websites like Powerswitch and Glimp make it easy to compare your broadband and electricity and find the best deals in New Zealand. You can also compare your mobile plan, car insurance, Kiwisaver and car loans. These websites are free to use, and switching to a new provider will cost you nothing. 

If you have a provider offering a free power hour or discounts for using power off-peak, put this time in your daily calendar. This will serve as a remember to run your dishwasher, washing machine or dryer at the cheapest time of day.

Cancel unused subscriptions and memberships

Many people have subscriptions and memberships they don’t remember signing up for. Go through your bank statements for the past three months and take note of any subscriptions that you don’t use. Ditto if you have a gym membership that you don't use in winter. Underutilised subscriptions can cost you tens of dollars each week. While this doesn’t sound like much, these payments can add up to hundreds of dollars a year.

Another place to check for hidden subscriptions is your phone's Google Play or Apple account. You might have a fitness app or Duo Lingo subscription you've forgotten about. Even if you’re still using the app, it’s still a good idea to cancel your automatic renewal.  

Another way to save is by subscribing to one streaming service a month. Choose one service, such as Netflix, Disney+, Neon or Amazon Prime and only switch to another service once you've run out of shows to watch.

Visit an insurance broker

Insurance is an area where you can save a lot of money each month. While it's not good to be underinsured, there are some types of insurance that are only useful to a very specific type of person. For example, unless you have dependents, you probably don’t need life insurance. Life insurance is best for people with children who also have debt and long-term financial obligations. If you're young and single, it's likely a waste of money.

If you're under forty, you should also consider whether you really need income protection insurance. If you work in a physical job, income insurance can be a good way to ensure you’ll still have a way to pay the bills if you can’t work. However, for most office workers, it’s not a necessity.  

An insurance broker can help you consolidate your insurance into one easy-to-manage payment. However, you should still do independent research and evaluate what type of coverage you really need.

Be careful when using credit cards

Credit cards are a great tool for managing your finances. However, they also make it easy to overspend each month. If you want to use your credit cards for the perks but don’t want to overspend, consider putting money on your card each month and only spending that amount.

Whichever way you use your credit cards, make sure you’re paying them off in full each month. If you are struggling to pay off your card, consider transferring the balance to a credit card with a low-interest rate.

Look for the best saving rates

If you have an emergency fund or cash savings, don’t just leave it sitting in any old bank account. One of the (perhaps only) perks of rising interest rates is that savings rates have also increased. Many banks have raised their savings interest rates to around 5.5%. That’s a free $250 a year on a balance of $5,000. While it’s not heaps, it’s still free money.

Save money on your move

There’s no denying that moving house can be expensive. The good news is, there’s a way to save on that, too. At Wise Move, we make it easy to find affordable movers who are already making similar trips and who can offer lower delivery costs. Book a professional, affordable mover now.

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