Cost of living crisis: Tips to help Kiwis save money as they battle higher heating costs and spiking petrol prices

Kiwis are under the pump as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite and with petrol prices set to skyrocket, New Zealanders are looking for any way to save a bit of cash. 

The Government's Fuel Excise Duty (FED) will resume on Saturday, which will see petrol prices rise by around 29 cents. 

Heating bills will also increase Kiwis battle the chilly temperatures in the middle of winter. 

The price of food is another unwanted headache for New Zealanders, with Stats NZ releasing figures earlier this month showing food price index rose 12.1 percent in May compared to the same time last year. Fruit and vegetable prices alone increased by 18.4 percent.

New Zealand is also in a technical recession after Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was down 0.1 percent quarter-on-quarter, while inflation is remaining stubbornly high at 6.7 percent. 

Then adding to all this, thousands of Kiwis are in the midst of or will re-fix their mortgages this year from a low rate seen during COVID-19 of around 2-3 percent to the new rates of around 6-7 percent.

So with costs being higher in the middle of winter, how can Kiwis survive without ploughing through truckloads of cash?  

How to save money on fuel

With the price of fuel set to rise on Saturday, Kiwis will be after any tips to get their petrol to last longer. 

AA principal policy adviser Terry Collins told Newshub last year Kiwis should plan where they fuel up for longer trips as the price at petrol stations can vary.

According to prices shown on Gaspy on Wednesday, the cost for 91 in Auckland varied by as much as 50c per litre - $2.27 at Mobil Epsom and $2.77 at GAS Kaurilands. 

Prices tend to be lowest in places where a low-cost operator, like Gull, Allied, Challenge or Waitomo are located, Collins said.

As savings can be nominal, motorists need to take into account the amount of extra time (and petrol) it takes in return for a cheaper price. For longer trips, it may be worth planning a place to stop, take a break and fuel up.

Consumer NZ head of communications Gemma Rasmussen also recommended Kiwis avoid short trips, as they can burn through fuel quicker. 

"Cars can use up to 20 percent more fuel when the engine is cold. Short trips mean the engine doesn't tend to heat up as much in time," Rasmussen previously told Newshub.

Another easy trick to make your fuel last longer is turning off air conditioning and heating as it burns more fuel. 

"If you go without and have the windows down, that might mean that it's a little more affordable," Rasmussen said.

How to save money on your power bill

The Government has also previously tried to help Kiwis save money on their power bills when they launched the 'Find Money in Weird Places' campaign last month.

The campaign was aimed at helping inform Kiwis on ways to keep their homes warm and dry with lower power bills.

The campaign came with five key tips that could save Kiwis up to $500 on their annual power bills.

The tips are:

  • Checking you're on the best power plan for you and your whānau 
  • Switching off appliances at the wall when you’re not using them 
  • Setting your heat pump to a maximum of 21 degrees 
  • Changing your washing machine settings to cold wash 
  • Shortening showers to five minutes. 

Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods said when launching the campaign the ideas "aren't new" but will be "meaningful to families" as "small steps can add up to savings that make a real difference".

Cost of living crisis: Tips to help Kiwis save money as they battle higher heating costs and spiking petrol prices
Photo credit: Getty Images


A Foodstuffs survey of customers released earlier this month found food prices remain a concern, with many reporting cutting back on fresh fruit, veggies and meat to cope with the cost of living.  

However, experts have tips for Kiwis to ensure they're making the most of their grocery shop.

The first tip recommended by experts is to make sure you have a plan or list before you get to the supermarket. 

Before you set foot in the grocery store, check your cupboards and make a list to ensure you aren't doubling up on perishables you already have at home.

"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," Financial Advice New Zealand chief executive Katrina Shanks told Newshub last year.

"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."

Kiwis can also take advantage of online shopping or scan-and-go shopping, which both show customers how much they are spending as they go, helping people stick to their budget.

Last year registered nutritionist Claire Turnbull told Newshub a list of tips to help cut back when at the supermarket.

Turnbull advised Kiwis to make use of seasonal produce and the frozen section, including frozen fish, vegetables and fruit.

When it comes to making meals, she said the cheapest thing for breakfast is oats, for lunch eggs are a good option and for dinner Turnbull recommends bulking up staples, such as mince, to make cheap and cost-effective meals that can be used time and time again throughout the week.  

Don't take the 'ostrich approach'

Another tip Shanks had was for Kiwis to figure out where their money is going. 

"The first thing you should do if you're under a bit of pressure is a budget and see what you need to reduce your expenditure to get a balanced budget," Shanks said. 

"If you can't get a balanced budget and you can't save anymore, look at ways you can either increase your income or find alternative ways to pay bills." 

RIVAL Wealth financial planner Tim Fairbrother also told Newshub it's important to do a yearly audit of all your expenses and make sure you're not paying for things you don't want or need to be. 

A good way to audit your spending is to download the last three months of your bank statements and read through them, he added. 

He said once you know how much you're spending it's easy to know how to save. For example, if your power bill is the issue you can see if other companies offer better deals.