Ross Greenwood Shares His Top Money-Saving Tips

The Eat Well For Less finance expert on household spending mistakes, how to save on food and energy bills and the one appliance we should all ditch!

Some of the stats around household spending in Australia are simply flabbergasting. The average household spend on food alone is $13,900. Yet the average household chucks $1,036 worth of food away a year. And that’s before you’ve even factored in how you can make smarter choices on what you’re spending in the first place.

9Saver chatted to the finance expert from new Nine show Eat Well For Less to get you some top money-saving tips around the home.

With almost three decades of experience covering money matters, Ross Greenwood knows his stuff when it comes to the best ways to save!

Eat Well For Less — hosted by journalist Leila McKinnon and chef Ben O’Donoghue, with Greenwood as the resident Money Man — features 90-minute episodes focused on showing Aussies how they can save money while living a healthier life in a more energy-efficient home.

9SAVER: As Eat Well For Less’ Money Man – what do you think are the 3 biggest mistakes people make when it comes to household spending?

GREENWOOD: The top 3 mistakes I see are these:

1. Not shopping around enough. These days, loyalty doesn’t pay; it costs you money.

2. Waste. Waste, waste. Cut down on waste, you will save money.

3. Accountability. Most people eat or drink most of their spare cash and don’t know where it goes. If you have a credit card problem, or can’t get ahead, take the one-month challenge. Get a note-book and write down every cent you spend. Inevitably you will be shocked by how much you eat and drink. Cut that down and you’ll spend less and — most likely — get healthier.

9SAVER: You gave some great tips for saving on energy bills on the show. What are some other simple changes people could make around the home to save money?

GREENWOOD: Here are a couple of extra energy-saving tips:

1. Shop around aggressively in this area. If you don’t, you will be at the ransom of energy companies. They don’t make billions of dollars a year for nothing.

2. If you own your home, and expect to be there for a reasonable period, look at solar panels. Though some state Governments are phasing out feed-in tariffs, there are still subsidies available. A battery adds cost to the system but depending on your usage, five to seven years is the payback period. If you run pool pumps, the pay-back time is even less.

9SAVER: Which appliances should we use less, and which ones should we get rid of altogether?

GREENWOOD: Electrical bar heaters should be banned in the house … anything that uses electricity solely to warm you up. Electric hot water systems, in my opinion, are not only more expensive, but they run out if you have a big family or a lot of guests. Use gas.

9SAVER: What would people be surprised to learn uses up a lot of energy at home?

GREENWOOD: People won’t be surprised, but heating and cooling uses about half of all energy in the home. The best strategy is to be somewhere else on very hot or very cold days, somewhere else that doesn’t cost you to be heated or cooled! After heating and cooling, it’s your water heater. Then the washer and dryer.

9SAVER: What are some of the most shocking facts about household spending on food?

GREENWOOD: That we waste, on average, at least $1000 a year on food. My point: with the vegetables as they’re getting on — what’s wrong with soup, or sticking old bananas in the freezer?

The most expensive things in supermarkets are generally protein and household cleaning products. The trick here is to shop better, to hunt the specials, and to make a deliberate effort to buy better in these areas. While shopping in-season in the fruit and vege section will save you money, the different between paying $40 a kilo for lamb cutlets and $25 a kilo for lamb chops (depending on where you live) makes a massive difference to the overall bill.

9SAVER: The average weekly shop is around $156 – what three things can we do when shopping to reduce the cost of our weekly bill?

GREENWOOD: Shop after you have eaten. Take a list. Be deliberate in what you buy. Do not buy anything that is not on the list. Impulse purchases must be avoided. Make a rough menu for the week’s meals, and shop to that.

9SAVER: In the second episode you mention that 81% of us “impulse buy” at the supermarket. What kind of things are they so we can watch out for them?

GREENWOOD: Understand that shopping in a supermarket is a psychological game. The retailers have been researching our behaviour for years. For example, there are no clocks in supermarkets, just as there are no clocks in casinos. Why? So you lose track of time. The longer you shop, the more you spend. Look around at the words: SAVE, SPECIAL, HALF-PRICE. They are all designed to boost your desire to spend. As for items at the register, ignore them. Resist it all, be tactical and try to beat the supermarkets at the psychological games.

9SAVER: How much more on average do you think Aussie homes pay for food compared to 10 years ago?

GREENWOOD: Here’s the weird thing, we’re paying more for food even though — on average — the price of food and groceries has fallen for each of the past four years. So what’s that about? We’re either putting more into our trollies, or we’re buying the wrong things.

9SAVER: What’s the one piece of advice you’d give every Aussie home trying to save money generally on their bills?

GREENWOOD: Treat it as a game to try to out-smart your suppliers, be they your energy company or supermarket. Remember, they are playing games with you all the time. Take a little time to play back and there will be savings.

Money-saving series Eat Well For Less airs on Nine and Nine Now at 7.30pm on Tuesday May 15. Catch the second episode on Nine and Nine Now at 7.30pm on Tuesday May 22.

* In highlighting particular offers we are not making specific recommendations as this article does not cover all available products and may not compare all features relevant to you. Any advice provided is general in nature and does not take account of your needs, objectives or financial situation. Individuals should consider their own circumstances, and if in doubt seek appropriate advice, before proceeding.