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Saving solutions for large families

Saving solutions for large families have been thrust back into the spotlight this month as Australia braces for the first round of utilities bills since the introduction of the carbon tax.

It comes as figures from the Essential Services Commission showed price hikes in Melbourne’s outer west averaged an extra $160 a year. It means residents in these areas are typically paying 12.7 per cent more for electricity than just six months ago.

Commission spokesman Gavin Clancy recently said network charges, which account for about 40 per cent of electricity costs, contributed to higher bills to outlying areas.

The price hikes are often part of the cost of servicing outer areas with a high ratio of family homes and urban growth. In contrast, those living in the city-fringe zones of Melbourne had the smallest increase with bills up an average of $130. Residents of the Riverina and northwest slopes and plains in NSW use 39 per cent more than the average – and more than twice as much as inner-Sydney households.

Meanwhile, figures from the Australian Energy Regulator show a single person in NSW consumes an average of 4928 kilowatt hours (kWh) a year compared to a couple with four children, who use an average of 10,555kWh – a difference of 114%.

Combined with post-carbon tax bills, saving solutions for large families are more topical than ever. If extra power use is a harsh reality, can other costs really become cheaper by the dozen? And how can people power unlock real household savings?

Thrifty fashion

Kids take some convincing when it comes to hand-me-downs, but what if the latest op-shops had that hard part done? For example, Red Cross now has charity-stores-turned-boutiques. These stores have gorgeous fit-outs, vintage finds as well as celebrity donations and ex-designer stock. In Adelaide and on Sydney’s busy Oxford St, the Red Cross stores are touted as the best in the country.

Wholesale outlets

Most large families would have heard the age-old tips of buying in bulk. But what about services that cater specifically to families who bulk buy? These supermarkets save on staffing and stocking and pass the savings on to families. Some examples include Midwest Foods, and Cash and Carry.

Co-operative buying

If no-name brands and wholesale outlets aren’t enough, the savviest savers can investigate co-operative buying. Food co-ops operate in each state and expect their supporters to make bulk purchases to ensure all members get the biggest discounts. Forget the hippie stereotype; the modern co-op appeals to everyone from urban gourmands to family penny-counters.

Shed some meat

According to dietitians, red meat is one of the most expensive things families put in their shopping trolley. The recommendations are between 0.75g and 1g per kg of body weight. For a 60kg woman that’s between 45g and 60g of red meat per day. For men eating a 400g or 500g steak each night, that could be cut to 150g and a side of cheaper seasonal vegetables.

Loyalty schemes

Large families have the benefit of activating their kickbacks sooner. Look for loyalty schemes that will allow you to access free products sooner with your bulk-buying power.

Whatever your approach to family savings, harnessing people power could see you saving enough money to quickly offset the sting of any recent price hikes. And keeping those savings in a high interest savings account can see you make the most to the rewards sooner.