As Australians are forced to stay indoors during the coronavirus pandemic household bills are set to soar – but by making a little effort you could save thousands, experts say.
The Australian Taxation Office is allowing people who work from home to claim 80 cents per hour for their office running costs rather than calculating individual expenses.
According to financial experts some major service providers are also offering deals to help customers through a financially trying time.
As Australians are forced to stay indoors and work remotely during the coronavirus pandemic household bills are set to soar – but by making a little effort you could save thousands
Joel Gibson from 9Saver told A Current Affair Australians could save thousand with ‘not a lot of work’ over the next 12 months
‘It’s energy, it’s NBN, it’s mobile, it’s car insurance and it’s mortgages. If you do it all right you could save thousands of dollars with not a lot of work over the coming year,’ Joel Gibson from 9Saver said.
The Reserve Bank of Australia recently cut interest rates to record lows and with many banks and lenders passing on the rate cut you could save thousands by reviewing your home loan.
‘For example if 3.5 per cent is your current rate on a home loan of $500,000 and you switch to one of the new lower fixed rate loans – all the big banks are offering them and some of the small lenders – you could save $3476,’ Mr Gibson said.
Many insurers now offer a ‘drive less pay less’ option where you can nominate how often you drive your car.
If it is a low number of kilometres, for example about 10,000km a year, you could get a reduction on your premiums.
With most Australians now not driving due to travel bans and remote working conditions it may be worth checking with your insurer.
Phone and internet bills
Reviewing your mobile phone and internet service provider plans is also recommended by Mr Gibson.
Switching to a different plan in the highly competitive market may give you access to more data for a cheaper price – possibly saving you hundreds over the next 12 months.
Also look at your current provider’s deals – they may have bonus data limits or offers you can register for and they will often switch you to newer plans to keep you as a customer.
Reviewing your mobile phone and internet service provider plans is also recommended by Mr Gibson
According to the Australian Taxation Office you can claim the bill for any items you need to buy to set up your home office up to a value of $300.
You can claim the full cost for items $300 and under and the decline in value for items that cost more than $300.
So while you can’t claim the total cost for that fancy new laptop you can claim how much value your laptop lost during the time you were using it for work, known as its depreciation.
If you need to crank up the heating or cooling to keep your home office at a comfortable working temperature, you can claim that electricity cost – the same goes for lighting – but only the portion of the bill in working hours.
You can also claim expenses associated with keeping your work space running smoothly.
This could include cleaning costs, whether that is hiring a cleaner or buying cleaning products, along with furniture and electrical repairs.
Lastly consumable items – think printer ink, printer paper, pens and other stationary – can also be claimed.
The ATO reccommends keeping a work diary logging the hours you worked as well as keeping any receipts and bills involved with your work.
Simon Downes from Canstar said he expects energy bills to increase by 20 per cent on average with adults and kids now staying at home the entire day.
‘The regulators are going to be watching the retailers closely to make sure they don’t disconnect customers for not paying their bills during this difficult time, also that they’re not chasing customers up for the debts unnecessarily,’ he said.
Being vigilant about making sure you are only running lights, air-conditioning, and devices when you need them can make a difference to your bill over the course of a few months.
He advised those struggling to pay a large bill to talk to your provider about a payment plan.
While working from your house may present other challenges you could claim items on your tax return and pocket the extra cash