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Signing up for a 30-year home loan is just the tip of the home ownership iceberg – the bills and basic household costs can stretch even the most money savvy’s budget.

The housing industry has recently seen a boom with people jumping on the low cash rate to secure home loans across the nation.

“The housing recovery, which was initially confined to New South Wales and Western Australia, appears to be gaining broader momentum,” Geordan Murray, Housing Industry Association Economist, recently commented.

However, are homeowners getting the best deals? From home loans to power bills, there are plenty of ways Australians can cut costs.

With your bank

If you want to cut down the term of your loan or are simply fed up with your lender, running a home loan comparison could be a smart move. If another lender offers a better deal, see if your current home loan provider is prepared to match the rate. If not, making the switch could potentially save you thousands of dollars.

If you’re refinancing, you’ve got nothing to lose by contacting your current lender and asking for a better rate. After all, if you’ve still got to make repayments for another decade or so, your lender won’t want to miss out on the potential interest they could earn from you!

Discussing your options with a broker is a good idea, too. They can suggest a range of options and are in a favourable position to negotiate with lenders to secure you a great deal.

With your utility provider

Want to slash your electricity, gas or solar costs? Start by picking up the phone.

Call your existing utility provider and ask them if they’ve got any promotions running. Or, if you indicate you’re prepared to make the shift to another company, this may prompt your existing provider to offer you a one-off discount or better rate.

Some providers allow you to lock in prices for a set amount of time, which can help insulate you against any price rises for a specified period, too.

With your internet provider

Shop around when you’re looking to sign up to an internet provider — often, companies will run promotions offering free data for a period of time, for instance.

But don’t sign up to a package that offers more than you need. Often, you’ll buy a package that’s perceived to be great value, when in reality, you don’t need the level of data or calling minutes provided.

With your mobile phone company

Are you coming to the end of a mobile phone contract?

Don’t go signing up to a new plan just yet! Many companies offer a free phone to customers who sign a new contract. If you’re already set on signing a new 12 or 24-month contract, you may as well shop around to see which mobile phone provider is offering the best free handset and call rates!

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So you’re stuck renting?

Maybe home ownership is closer than you think. Many Australians may not be aware how ‘within reach’ home ownership may actually be.

As an example a first home buyer in South Australia may only require $7000 to purchase a $300,000 property based on current grants available. The $7000 could even be a gift from parents or be borrowed funds!

It may not be for everybody but home ownership is still the preferred option of many.

In the above example, repayments at time of print would be approximately $395 per week. Compare that with current rental rates and lack of suitable properties available and it’s easy to see why first Home Buyers are coming back into the market.

The current grants available from various state and federal government incentives combined with falling interest rates has seen both first home buyers and investors flood back into the market.

An immerging trend is the young Australian living at home and buying their first property as an investment. Why not? Realistically living at home frees up cash flow which may facilitate owning an investment property when combined with the rental income (wish I’d have bought my first property whilst living at home, don’t you?)

Retirement Planning

THEY care more about their next Facebook status than retirement but young people’s indifference could cost them in the long run, experts warn as they call for better financial education for school students.

While superannuation is one of the most important financial accounts, research shows 67 per cent of people younger than 25 do not think about it because retirement is so far away, according to a report in the Daily telegraph.

Financial Literacy Foundation Advisory Board’s 2007 study of people’s attitudes to money also found only 50 per cent of youth save regularly, even though 72 per cent think it’s a good idea.

But it’s not just the younger generation that don’t fully understand super and the benefits it can provide.

Superannuation has the potential to be an extremely tax effective savings vehicle. Of more recent times Self Managed Super funds have become extremely popular

Self Managed superannuation is a vehicle that gives you freedom of investment choice allowing you to take greater control of your retirement.

Over the last decade, the growth in SMSFs has been phenomenal and is one of the fastest growing segments of the superannuation industry. The impetus for this growth is threefold: the desire for more control by fund members, the advent of Super Choice and the increased focus on retirement planning. There are now over 400,000 self managed super funds registered with the ATO which hold in excess of $326 billion in assets. Over 1,500 new funds are being established each month.

Whether an SMSF is suitable will depend on your circumstances but is proving to be the vehicle of choice for Australians in ever increasing numbers.

Whilst this may not be something that is right for everyone, one thing is for certain – we should all be thinking of our retirement.  I think it time to book an appointment with my financial planner…

With 58 per cent of respondents to a recent survey saying they believed they had been personally affected by the global financial crisis, it could be argued the apparent strength of the economy is a ‘myth’ to some people.

The survey, conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), found domestic consumers were behaving as if the economy was in crisis, despite its strong performance and the low unemployment rate.

It would appear that whilst we might be half a world away from the European financial crisis and the high unemployment levels of the Northern Hemisphere, Australian consumers are just as battered and cautious as those in the US, the UK and many other developed countries,” he said.

The survey found that 50 per cent of Australians intended to spend less on discretionary items, compared to 47 per cent last year. Even in America they weren’t as gloomy as that!

Australians had one of the highest levels of consumers who felt they were in financial trouble at 47 per cent, up from 36 per cent a year ago.

This was the same level as the US despite a much stronger economy here.

Only the Italians (51 per cent) and Japanese (51 per cent) felt less financially secure than Australians.

More than 1400 Australians were surveyed for the research.

Bloody hell… I reckon this stuff is self-fulfilling. Is it really that bad? I reckon the media have a lot to answer for. Turn off the TV and computer, don’t read the paper for a week and see how you feel then (I feel better already).

As a mortgage broker, Go Loans take pride in assisting all borrowers from First Home Buyers and Owner Occupiers to seasoned Investors. We provide assistance with purchases, refinance and debt consolidation. At Go Loans we provide a thorough financial services experience, taking into consideration not only your current situation but also your future aspirations.

The two Directors of Go Loans, David Garner and Simon Norris have over 20years experience within the financial services industry.They are very well versed in finding out the current needs of a client and then also taking into consideration their future goals – with all that information the David and Simon then structure the client’s home loan to ensure that both current and future needs are met.

Go Loans pride themselves on being a holistic company, providing their clients access to an array of different sources including; A Justice of the Peace, Conveyancer, Accountant, Financial Planner, Property Investment Specialist and the like. This is just another way that Go Loans reach above and beyond for their clients.