Wavelength - brought to you by bcu

From preparing your tax return to organising school holiday activities and even reassessing some of those (slightly neglected) New Year's resolutions, the start of July and the beginning of the new financial year is a busy time for many Australians.

But while you’ve been preoccupied rummaging around for receipts to ensure you can claim as much back in tax as possible, some major changes kicked off on July 1 that you may have missed.

First home buyer deposit boosts were activated

Any first home buyer will know that saving up for a deposit isn’t easy, but as of July 1, buyers can tap into any money they’ve saved through the First Home Super Saver Scheme.

The scheme allows first time buyers to save up to $15,000 a year, or $30,000 over multiple years, via contributions to their superannuation fund, which can then be used for a home deposit. The benefit is that your contributions are taxed at a concessional rate, so you end up saving money.

If you are planning on using your hard-earned funds, just bear in mind that you can only withdraw your money once. Plus it can take up to 25 days to receive your money once the ATO has approved it for release. 

But what’s the point of saving so hard for a deposit if you don’t match it with a low rate home loan that could save you thousands of dollars down the line? 

Need some convincing? Well imagine that Ben and Holly just bought their first home, and now have a $300,000 loan which they are paying off over 25 years with repayments every fortnight. According to Mozo data, the average rate for a loan of this size is currently 4.35%, meaning Ben and Holly would end up paying $190,102 in interest over the life of their loan.

Compare that to a low rate deal like bcu’s OMG variable rate loan with a 3.79% interest rate, and Ben and Holly would end up paying just $163,116 in total interest - $26,986 less! 1

Energy prices were updated

Australians could be forgiven for flinching at the words ‘energy price updates’, especially after the 2017 annual changes from energy retailers saw bills skyrocket by as much as 20% in some states. But this year, the energy price changes announced on July 1 may have been met with a sigh of relief.

Many Queensland and South Australian homes will likely see their energy bills remain the same or even drop slightly, while households in New South Wales can expect more of a mixed bag, with many retailers dropping prices and a few hiking them.  

No matter where you live though, reviewing your current energy deal should be top of your new financial year checklist. After all, a 2017 Mozo survey found that a three person household could reduce their yearly electricity bills by over $1,000 just by swapping from the most to least expensive plan on the market. It just goes to show the amount of savings on offer!

Plastic bags were binned

Single-use plastic bags have already become a bit of a rarity in Australia, especially now that Victoria (which is yet to set a date) and New South Wales (which hasn’t announced any plans) are the only states which haven’t officially banned them. 

But on July 1, Coles and Woolworths also announced bans of their own, meaning that single-use plastic bags won’t be offered in store - including in New South Wales. Shoppers won’t be left completely high and dry though, with both stores offering 15c recycled plastic bags and more durable alternatives like tote bags as replacements.

While not everyone is happy about the change, opting for a longer-life option like a tote bag will not only be better for the environment, it could save you a tidy sum over time. For example, a shopper who buys six 15c plastic bags at the checkout each week would fork out $46.80 each year, compared to a one-off cost of just $6 to purchase six reusable tote bags.


Disclosures

1 - Credit eligibility criteria, terms & conditions, fees & charges apply. All interest rates are annual percentage rates (APR) and variable rates are subject to change. Minimum loan amount is $150,000 and maximum loan amount is $1,000,000; for a maximum term of 30 years.

Picture of Kirsty Lamont wearing nice red jacket. Director of financial comparison website Mozo

Author bio: 

Kirsty Lamont is a Director at financial comparison website mozo.com.au. She is passionate about helping Australians get a better money deal and helping them make better, more informed choices.


Important information

Information on this website is general and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether this information is suitable for your objectives, financial situation and needs before acting on the information provided.