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Bang for your buck: The savvy swaps Australians are making to save cash

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Australians are squeezing more savings out of their banking and utilities products as the cost of living bites, according to new research by Finder.

Finder research shows nearly half of Australians (47%) have switched at least 1 financial product over the past 6 months.

Gen Z are the nation's most relentless deal-chasers, with 71% having switched at least 1 product, followed by millennials (59%).

Just 20% of baby boomers have switched a provider in the past 6 months.

Taylor Blackburn, personal finance specialist at Finder, said Australians were being forced to take drastic action on their finances.

"Rising interest rates, energy prices and the general cost of living are driving Australians to squeeze more out of their banking and utilities products.

"Many have realised that some savvy swaps – like switching energy providers or cutting down on subscriptions – could save you hundreds of dollars a year."

Energy switching at a historic high

Energy switching is on the rise, with the percentage of Australians who have switched their energy plan in the past 6 months up to 16%, according to Finder's Consumer Sentiment Tracker (CST).

That's the equal-highest this figure has been since the CST began in 2019.

Gen Z (22%) and millennials (20%) are the most likely to have changed their energy plan recently, compared to just 7% of baby boomers.

Blackburn said the cost of energy is set to become a bigger problem for Australian households.

"Many providers – even large ones – have recently ramped up their prices by as much as 18%, which means you could be in for a shock on your next bill.

"Don't fret, take those details and pop them in to see if there is a cheaper deal with another provider," Blackburn said.

Refinancing hits record levels, millennials lead the charge

Nearly 1 in 6 (15%) mortgage holders have refinanced their home loan in the past 6 months, up from a low of 9% in January this year.

This figure jumps to 23% among millennial homeowners – that's nearly 1 in 4 and a near doubling from just 12% in January.

According to ABS figures, the value of refinanced home loans reached $20.3 billion in June, a record high and 7% increase on the previous month.

The RBA lifted the cash rate to 1.85% in August, the first time it has increased rates for 4 months in a row and the highest the cash rate has been since 2016.

Blackburn said younger homeowners typically have the most to gain from refinancing.

"They tend to have lower incomes – so every little bit of savings makes a huge difference to their household budget.

"We've seen record numbers of first home buyers enter the property market in the past couple of years, many of whom hadn't factored in rate rises."

Super savvy swaps

More than 1 in 10 Australians with super (11%) have switched their super fund in the last 6 months, a near doubling from just 6% in March this year.

For gen Z, that figure climbs to more than 1 in 5 (21%).

The median growth fund is estimated to have declined 5% through the financial year, according to Chant West.

Blackburn said super is the ultimate long-term investment, so it's not worth stressing over short-term losses in one year.

"This year's loss comes after a 18% return in the 2021 financial year, which should comfort Aussies that they're still ahead overall.

"That said, not all funds are created equal. Beyond performance, fees can really add up if you are in the wrong fund.

"Compare super funds to find one with a balance of good long-term returns, low fees and any ethical considerations that are important to you," Blackburn said.

A recent Finder survey found 9% of Australians with super have not checked the performance of their fund in over a year and 11% have never checked.

The research found 9% don't know the name of their super fund.

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