How to save money with the Best of the Best awards
When looking at products and services, it's not just price that matters. It's the overall "best-value" that can make your money work harder
Each year we find that our Best of the Best edition can save people thousands of dollars, for example when they swap from their current provider to one of the award winners.
Our financial experts have again done the heavy lifting of comparing savings accounts, credit cards, home loans, personal loans, super funds, insurance providers, telcos, cars ... and so much more.
It's an excellent starting point - there is more that you can do on your own.
Check your investments often
How are your investments tracking?
Regularly check that you are invested in funds that are doing well and are not charging overly high fees.
Also make sure your investments are rebalanced at regular intervals to ensure that you are distributing your assets and risks according to your financial plans.
We've also compared online brokers for those who like to invest directly. We look at full-service broking offers and cheapest online brokers.
It can be hard to keep up with all the changes from existing providers and new market entrants, so I find it useful to be able to see who has nabbed the top spot in our tables.
Supersizing your future
When it comes to superannuation, there is a lot to do to keep engaged with what might become your largest investment alongside your home.
First, make sure contributions are going into your super account. Your employer should pay your super at least quarterly. Then check it is the correct amount.
Second, make sure your fund is performing well alongside its competitors. The federal government has just introduced Your Future, Your Super, which alerts you if you are invested in a poorly performing fund. The fund will be asked to explain its poor performance and develop a plan to improve it.
Ensure your fund is investing the way you want to invest and that you feel comfortable with the asset mix and the risk.
Third, check your fees and make sure that you are not paying more than 1% unless there is a good reason. If you are paying more, then you should be earning more, so it doesn't impact the amount of super you are accumulating.
Finally, check if your super is going to be enough for you in retirement. There are many online comparison tools and if your savings are looking lean you might consider salary sacrificing or making after-tax contributions. Of course, check your contribution limits.
Banking on what you need
This year we've added the buy now, pay later category as it has grown greatly since it started a decade ago. It's a way lenders and now banks are meeting the demand of customers for convenient and easy-to-use products and services.
Because credit cards can vary, we've compared cards for cheapest rates, best balance transfer, best transactor, best rewards and best business cards.
We've also named best savings accounts for everyday banking, online, children and self-managed super funds.
Many forecasters tip a rise in interest rates in the new year, so it's a good time to consider your mortgage and make sure you're on the best deal now and if rates rise in the near future. Some of the best deals are for those with greater equity in their homes - but check our Best of the Best winners and compare the rates.
A colleague said last year's awards opened her eyes to the wide margins that exist when it comes to interest rates offered by various banks.
"I have since re-negotiated my home loan rates twice in one year, and I'm considering switching banks in the new year," she says.
If you're a first home buyer or refinancing, keep in mind how rising interest rates might affect your repayments and your lifestyle and make sure you are not borrowing more than you can afford to repay.
Spending within your means
When it comes to telcos, check your usage - what is your phone or broadband behaviour like? Consider the product you need most and look at our winners in the category.
According to WhistleOut's head of communications, Kenny McGilvary, many companies offer their special deals now - so keep a look out for what our Best of the Best winners can offer.
The Best of the Best issue is not meant to make you change all your providers at once but to think about the new and repeat winners in each category. See what they're doing right and how you may benefit. I already know I can save hundreds of dollars by changing my current mobile and broadband providers today.
I'm also happy to know I have some top funds to choose to invest in - which I'll keep an eye on until I have a little more money put aside to invest in 2022.
The message of these awards is this: all year you should try your hardest to save more, invest more and spend less. In this issue we give you the tools to do all three to help you edge closer to the financial freedom that we all desire.
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