Optimisation Day: The Annual Gift To Your Future-Self

A relatively simple post today.  

But despite its simplicity, the instructions here (when acted upon) are incredibly powerful. 

This is not a learning/thinking style post.  This is an article about action and results!

As you’ll see, Optimisation Day is going to be your most profitable day of the year.  It’ll be so good that you might as well call it your second Birthday!

And you don’t even have to let the fun expire after one day.  You can keep this party going for a few days or maybe even a week!  

Yes, I know I sound excited.  But that’s for good reason!  So let’s dive in and see what the hell I’m talking about.

 

What is Optimisation Day?

Well, it’s a name I just made up.  But the name doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you do it!

Optimisation Day is where you calmly, but decidedly, take a freshly sharpened blade to your regular ongoing expenses.  

You’ll need your phone.  Your list of expenses to give the Optimisation treatment.  Pen and paper.  A calculator (of course).  And comfortable footwear…

Why?  Because you can’t jump and dance around celebrating like a maniac in heels or thongs.  Well, maybe thongs!

So get ready to do a little research, some dialling and even a bit of old-fashioned negotiating!  But before we start, let’s discuss why your Annual Optimisation Day (and this habit in general), is crucial to your financial success.

 

The Benefits of Optimisation Day

If we’re honest, we all love the status quo.  Leaving things as they are is nice and simple.

So why deal with the hassle of picking up the phone or chasing better deals for things like insurance, mortgages etc.? 

In short, because the rewards are well worth the effort!  Here’s why…

—  You can generate huge savings from getting your ongoing spending lower.  Shaving just $2,000 per year across a bunch of your expenses will compound to $25,000 over ten years.  Over twenty years, it’s worth $66,000.  

—  Lower annual spending means you need less investments to retire.  As above, an annual saving of $2,000 has a real and immediate benefit to you of $50,000.  Why?  Because that $2,000 cost required $50,000 of investments providing you 4% per year in passive income.  For the purpose of Financial Independence, every $1 annual saving has equal value to $25 worth of shares.  In this way, a dollar saved is twenty-five dollars earned.

—  It brings your retirement date forward.  Because of the heavenly combination of the two factors just mentioned – higher wealth created, plus less wealth needed – your Annual Optimisation Day will bring your FI date forward.  Potentially by years!

—  You avoid the loyalty tax.  Also known as the lazy tax.  That’s right – by staying with the same bank, insurer, phone network etc., you’ll be kindly rewarded with, well, nothing.  In fact, you’ll look on in disbelief as new customers get all the best pricing and benefits.  People are getting wise to this behaviour now.  Thanks to your research and checks, you’ll make sure you have sharp deals and be doing your bit to keep the bastards honest!

—  Pay off your home sooner.  Negotiating a lower interest rate for your mortgage means you can win in a few ways.  You’ll have more cashflow leftover for investing each month.  Or you can pay off your home years sooner, often saving tens of thousands in unnecessary interest costs.

— Psychological benefits.  You’ll receive a happiness boost as you feel more empowered and in control of your finances than you did before.  Lower annual spending and lower stress levels go hand-in-hand.  Not to mention, more freedom in your life sooner due to the above factors and the strong financial position you’ve created.

 

Your Optimisation List

Okay, enough fluffing around.  Here’s a list of places where we can find some great efficiencies…

Housing:  The number one saving for most people is getting a cheaper interest rate on your mortgage.  Banks are very competitive right now and are willing to come to the party. 

And if they’re not willing to budge, look at refinancing to a different lender.  A number of banks are offering a cash bonus of $2k-$4k for new customers.  So if you can meet the banks lending criteria, there’s no reason you can’t have an extremely good home loan rate of 3% or less.

If you’re renting, check out the current market.  Look at rentals in your area vs nearby suburbs.  Have any price differences opened up that you could take advantage of?  Can you offload some extra possessions and get a place with one less bedroom?

Or maybe for the same price you can live closer to work, shops or public transport.  This lets you drive less and walk or ride more.  You might be surprised to find that it’s worth moving once your lease is up.

 

Electricity & Gas:  If you’re in the Eastern states, then you have a ton of electricity providers to choose from.  There are sites like this one, as well as other comparison sites to nail down the best price.

Here in WA, we’ve had huge competition come into the gas market in recent years.  Prices have fallen by more than 30% as new entrants have come in.  So most providers will reluctantly agree to this level of discount if you firmly remind them what others are offering!

From what I’ve seen, Kleenheat are quite competitive, and so are AGL.  In fact, AGL now offers a discount of 48% on gas usage charges.

 

Insurance:  This area is notorious for loyal customers getting shafted.  Whether it’s house, car, health or other types of insurance, you’ll want to check comparable levels of cover with other providers.

Pricing for new customers tends to be pretty sharp, while existing customers receive (often unwarranted) hefty increases.  This combination helps keep their insurance book growing, while keeping margins similar, as they know people are reluctant to change.

If you can afford to, consider increasing your excess and even question the level of insurance you currently have.  For things like income protection and/or life insurance, maybe think about getting these inside super.  Especially for younger people, doing it this way you free up more cash for investing, meaning your investments will grow faster and you can retire stupidly early!

 

Phone & Internet:  There are some fantastic deals around these days.  The price of pre-paid phone plans and the data that comes with it are incredibly generous compared to just a few years ago!

Currently, we both use Kogan mobile 365-day pre-paid options (which runs on Vodafone network) and are very happy with it.  For internet, we’ve been using a 365-day pre-paid Telstra USB stick. 

It’s certainly not fast, but given my simple computer needs, it’s been more than enough to run this blog for $150 a year.  Having said that, we’re in the process of hooking up NBN.  We’ve decided to go with Aussie Broadband after hearing and reading fantastic reviews. 

Update:  All up and running, and very happy with it.  If you decide to join Aussie Broadband, use my refer-a-friend code, 3103355, to get $50 credit!  (I’ll receive $50 credit too, so thanks!)

What I’m saying is, don’t be afraid to try a new provider in this space.  The networks are effectively the same, but the prices are much more attractive with many younger and hungrier competitors.  Related post:  When Frugality Meets Smartphones.

 

Holidays:  This seems like a weird one to add, but hear me out.  Instead of another international trip, consider seeing a bit more of Australia.  Rent a nice house on AirBnb and go exploring!  This is what we do, taking our dog with us on road-trips, and it’s fantastic πŸ™‚

There’s no shortage of beautiful places to see in this fine country.  We’re very lucky in this regard, so we really should make the most of it.  People travel from all over to marvel at the beauty of our beaches, animals, national parks, and friendly laid-back culture.

With the Aussie dollar continuing to fall, travelling within Oz also becomes relatively better value.  Sure, some touristy things are expensive.  But spending more time in nature and visiting new places doesn’t have to kill your savings.  Like me, you might even find that as you come to appreciate Australia more, your desire for exotic travel begins to fade away.

So consider the holidays you currently go on, or are planning.  Is there a way to get just as much enjoyment for less cost?  Almost always, there is! 

If you’re interested, you can get $55 off your first AirBnB booking using my refer-a-friend link (full disclosure: I’ll also receive $25 credit, so thanks in advance if you do use it!).

 

Dave, how long is this going to take?

Okay, maybe I was a little optimistic in saying you’ll get it done in a day.  But a couple of days, no worries!

And you know what?  There’s actually a way to make this feel even better, and even less like hard work.

Take a day or two off work to do it!  For employees, you’re now getting paid to sit around and find ways to save a mountain of cash! 

So, not only do you end up with a higher savings rate, higher wealth and earlier retirement than before, but you’re getting paid – the icing on the cake!  

 

Why do it this way?

Of course, there’s something to be said for always being on the lookout for better deals.  And I probably do that myself without realising.  

But many of us aren’t wired that way.  We all know we should check to see if we’re being ripped off or other options are better value than what we currently have.  But we usually get slack and complacency wins, because the motivation isn’t there and it feels like a small victory.

So by making it a special event with a much bigger payoff, we’re more likely to take action.  Because those seemingly small wins add up to a large, meaty benefit.

And because it’s a special event, you’re allowed to treat yourself to any favourite food you like.  After all, your Optimisation Party needs fuel!  Plus, you may even choose to add a couple of tasty alcoholic beverages as you bask in the glorious accomplishment of a job well done! 

Of course, another approach is to tackle one of these things each month.  And honestly, that’s just as good if you prefer doing it that way.  The only thing is, it’s easy to forget, and a bit less exciting… so you might not end up doing it!

 

Final thoughts

Even though it’s called Optimisation Day, this isn’t a one-time deal.  The best results are had by playing this game at least once per year. 

So make it a ritual.  Any time of the year that suits you.  Maybe the start of the year.  Or maybe next week!  It doesn’t matter when you do it – just that you do.

You’ll likely be on a bit of a high afterwards.  It’ll feel like you’ve just created money out of thin air!  And effectively, you have.

As I said, you can even treat this like your second Birthday!  After all, what could be a better gift to your future-self than freedom and a stronger set of finances?

11 comments

  1. ‘ Don’t pay the Lazy Tax ‘
    I love this one, and Optimisation Day, well done Dave thanks for putting it out there as an annual event, inspiring those wanting FI

  2. Great post as always Dave.

    My wife and I switched over to the 365 kogan mobile plans also and its great. Same network we were on for waaaay less. We also rejigged our contents insurance with a higher excess and a lower item value. We even downgraded our netflix to the standard def $9.95/mth and don’t notice a difference.

    All little things but they do add up.

    Love this blog! Keep up the great work and happy optimisation day!!!

    1. Good stuff Tom! Yep Kogan has some great offers. It’s a no-brainer for the same quality as you say. Nice work on the insurance too.

  3. Dave you are speaking my language! New to your subscription, but boy I am glad I am here. Always looking to screw down my expenses, and approach it almost like a personal challenge to get the better deal. Chasing FI HARD!!!!

    1. Haha I LOVE your enthusiasm Sarah! You framed it exactly the way I see personal finance in general – a personal challenge to get the most value for the lowest cost πŸ™‚

  4. Belong has a well priced Unlimited plan for NBN. $55/mth (includes $5/mth discount for 12 month contract), which we’ve renewed twice now. Speed is more than enough for two young people who don’t mind Netflix in the evenings. And I’m pretty sure you get the Modem for free when you sign up. Definitely would recommend it. I think it is one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest on the market.

  5. Great article; I always look at my recurring expenses every year before renewal to see where I can get a better deal. It’s always worth looking around for vouchers as well; for example, I switched my NBN last month to SuperLoop and on WhistleOut uncovered a voucher for a $21 per month discount for the first 6 months. Just one trap which I’m glad I found out first; iiNet and TPG require you give 30 days notice of cancellation (otherwise they’ll slog you an extra month).

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