It's worth shopping around for a better deal on your electricity and other services.
It's worth shopping around for a better deal on your electricity and other services. BRENDAN ESPOSITO

Shopping around can save money

TAKING a few simple steps can be the difference between forging ahead financially and merely coasting along.

On the savings front, sticking with the same service provider you've always used could mean paying more than necessary.

Comparison site Finder, for instance, says one in five Australians have been with the same telco for the past decade.

Yet these days we have more than 30 providers to choose from and plans are becoming cheaper all the time. So it's worth looking around to see if you could get a better deal.

It's a similar story with electricity bills.

Most of us know it may be possible to save by switching to a cheaper provider, but it can all seem too hard.

However, a report by the Australian Energy Regulator found households can save as much as $1400 by making the move to a cheaper supplier. Visit the Energy Made Easy website to compare offers.

Taking positive action also counts towards achieving financial security.

An easy step we can all take is to set up a regular transfer from an everyday account to a savings account.

Put savings of $50 per week on autopilot this way, and after a year you could have close to $3000.

After three years, you could have savings of more than $8000 - and that's allowing for today's low interest rates.

For even more impressive results, make a habit of adding a bit extra to investments backed by growth assets - such as your super.

Taking an active approach to your finances is important though there can be times when it pays to sit tight.

As a guide, in February we saw the Australian share market take a dip, something that concerned many investors.

But to put it in perspective, research group SuperRatings did the maths and found the 3.3 per cent drop in local shares in the first fortnight of February would have resulted in a $2000 loss on super savings of $100,000.

That's hardly cause for panic, and history tells us that quality shares will go on to recoup their value.

That said, sitting by and allowing short-term storms to subside is quite different from turning a blind eye to your finances altogether.

Make a point of taking a few extra steps to make your money go further - you'll come out the winner in the long run.