Easy tips from experts on how Kiwis can save money amid cost of living crisis

Planning is one simple way Kiwis can save money amid the cost of living crisis - and it requires minimal effort to do so, according to two financial advisors.

Inflation has risen to record highs, contributing to the cost of living crisis that's seen food and fuel prices skyrocket.

Katrina Shanks, the chief executive of Financial Advice New Zealand, told Newshub the key to saving money is planning. 

"It's all about the ability to plan and the ability to execute that plan and then hold yourself to account," Shanks said.

"It's OK to slip on your plan but it's understanding that you are maybe not meeting what you are planning to meet, why you did that and how you can change to make it easier for yourself in the future."

Gemma Rasmussen from Consumer NZ told Newshub her key tip for Kiwis looking to save money is having a review of their outgoing expenditure and figuring out what expenses are needed and what isn't. 

"So I would just really recommend having a good review of your outgoings and just doing a little bit of housekeeping because if you get that in order, it's something that continues to save you money over time," she said. 

Below are Shanks and Rasmussen's top tips on how Kiwis can save money without much stress. 

Review monthly income and costs 

Shanks urged Kiwis to make a plan and figure out how much money they need to reduce their spending. 

"So there are two things, there are budgeting services which can help you to make a plan and to make a budget and to fit your needs within your budget," she said.

"Then there are financial planners, which have a slightly longer-term vision in terms of how you can organize your financial well-being, your income and your expenditure so you get the best use of your income, and the way you spend it through ensuring that you are spending money on the things that you need and that it's not wasted on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis."

Cash is king

Shanks encouraged Kiwis to use cash instead of their Eftpos or credit card as it may make you think twice about the "nice to have's you are about to purchase". 

"So when you use your Eftpos or credit card, the transaction is basically invisible to you. You can't see the value of the money that you have just spent because it's just automatically transmitted," Shanks told Newshub. 

"Whereas when you spend cash you see the cash leave your hand, you understand the value of it and what you bought for that cash. So in many instances when you hand over cash, you're more conscious of your spending.

"So for example, if you have a budget of $200 for the week and you take out $200 in cash, once that money is gone it is literally gone."

Reconsider what is a must 

The next tip Shanks had was for Kiwis to reconsider what in their spending is a must and what is just a luxury.

An example she raised was whether things like coffee, takeaways and social media subscriptions are a must.

"There are things like your social media subscriptions or your online entertainment accounts where a lot of people add an additional account to watch a particular program and they don't get rid of it again, so it sits there unused… they're nice to have as opposed to must-haves," she told Newshub.

Shanks said taking the time to plan lunches can save a lot of money instead of purchasing takeaways or Uber Eats. 

Do your grocery shopping online 

Another easy way Kiwis could save money is by doing their grocery shopping online, Shanks said. 

She said by doing this, you're not tempted to put more in your shopping trolley and you just stick to the list - which should be based on a meal plan for the week.

"Shopping lists are really important, so it's all about planning, understanding what you're going to eat, shopping to your list and that is all you require," she said. 

"For many, they go into the supermarket to pick up two things and $60 later they walk out and have eight things, and that can be a trap for many people. So sometimes the temptation of going into a shop means you do spend more because you see more than you would like."

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Avoid chasing points 

Rasmussen agreed with Shanks that Kiwis should plan their grocery shops and also check the fridge before they head out, so they aren't tempted to add extra items.

One trap Kiwis can fall into is looking at supermarket specials, which Rasmussen believes can actually see you spend more. 

"One thing we would say is it's fair to be dubious about supermarket specials, things like everyday value and great prices," she told Newshub.

"This marketing is really persuasive, it can give you a feeling like you're getting a great deal but, the savings may not be as high as you think that they are. So to stick to your list is a great way to avoid unnecessary spending." 

She urged Kiwis to look above their eye line on the shelves, whilst also avoiding chasing points for rewards.

"Eye-level is often where the most profitable items in the supermarket are, so look above and below and actually check out those different price points," she said.

"We would recommend people don't chase points when they're shopping because you have to spend a lot of money, to get pretty paltry returns, so just sticking to what you need."

She also encouraged Kiwis to buy their fruit and vegetables from local markets where they can find good deals.

Rasmussen said she would recommend Kiwis don't go to the supermarket hungry as it could see them buy additional items and also promoted buying cheaper cuts of meat.  


Shanks said phone plans, internet and power all create a significant drag on household costs and urged Kiwis to question what they really need.

"If you have a cell phone, do you still need the landline? Do you need a pay-monthly plan or would a SIM card be cheaper?" 

A couple of tips Rasmussen had for Kiwis to save power were making sure they were on the right plan and making sure there are no gaps under windows or doors. 

Both Shanks and Rasmussen encouraged Kiwis to go to powerswitch.org.nz to see if they're on the best deal for them, as they could save hundreds of dollars if they switch providers.  

"Ensuring that your home is actually really well sealed is a great way to lower your bills," Rasmussen told Newshub 

"So often there could be gaps under the doors or coming out the windows and you could be losing heat through uninsulated ceilings or floors. So a really cost-effective way is to put block drafts under your doors.

"Also look at your curtains because curtains can be a massive heat leak if you don't have heavy-duty curtains with the right thermal insulation." 

The last tip Rasmussen had for saving power is making sure any unnecessary items are turned off and not wasting power. 

"Go around your house and look at what's switched on. So, for example, having a heat towel rail on all day would cost you about $0.49 a day, so that's about $180 over the course of a year," she said.

"So maybe it would be that whether you shower in the morning or in the evening, you could switch it on an hour or two beforehand and that would save you money."

Both Shanks and Rasmussen urged Kiwis to dry their clothes outside rather than in the dryer whilst also taking shorter showers, using cold not hot water for their washing and trying to avoid the oven where possible. 

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Petrol prices have been steadily increased throughout 2022, with the cost at the pump well inflated compared to this time last year.

A key tip Rasmussen had was for Kiwis to focus on driving smoothly and avoiding excessive use of the accelerator and the brake, which will help save fuel whilst also having unnecessary items in the boot of your car.

"Take out the things that you don't need, it can be really common for the boots to become storage units from miscellaneous junk," she explained.

"If you take that out, that's actually going to mean that your car is a lighter load and you're going to burn less fuel, even my roof racks and bike racks, if they're not used take them off your car."

Another clever tip Rasmussen had was to drive with the windows up to avoid any drag whilst also making sure your tires are pumped up correctly. 

Shanks added Kiwis should avoid any unnecessary trips, which is an easy way to save money on fuel.

"So thinking about carpooling and to sports games and school is a good way to avoid doing extra trips, which might be not needed. Many people that go in the same direction in the morning, so understanding who in your neighbourhood is going to the same areas of town as you are, even if it's one direction and you bus home," Shanks explained.

"Many families live in close proximity to each other, so carpooling can be a really effective way of having to zip around town continually in individual cars and just be a bit smarter about how you could do it. And then ultimately, of course, there are electric bikes which have taken off, which are a great way to get around as there's just nothing wrong with walking."