AUSTRALIANS often aim to take charge of their finances in January, but can find it hard to know where to start. The good news is that savings can be made just by picking up the phone.
Here are five phone calls you can make to save money instantly in the new year.
Power prices have risen sharply, but there are better deals on offer if you call your provider and ask. Canstar Blue editor Simon Downes said that if you have been on an energy plan for more than 12 months you are almost certainly not on the best deal.
"Ask if your current plan is the retailer's cheapest," Mr Downes said. "If it's not, ask to be switched to the cheapest deal. If you're currently on a standard contract, this could result in saving hundreds of dollars a year straight away."
It is important your provider knows you are ready to switch to a competitor.
"Many retailers have an offer of last resort that they will bring out if they genuinely think you are about to leave," Mr Downes said. "Your challenge is forcing your retailer into this fallback position."
The RBA cash rate has been static, but you may not be on the best deal, said Joel Gibson, One Big Switch director of campaigns.
"Call your lender and ask them how much your interest rate has risen in the past year," Mr Gibson said. "Most variable rates have risen in the past 12 months so you may get a rude shock.
"If you're on interest-only, ask your lender what rate you can get by paying principal & interest, and see if the lower rate and the higher repayments work for you."
Major phone providers have wiggle room in their plans, so call and ask for a better deal, especially if you are prepared to enter a new contract, said Joseph Hanlon from telco comparison site Whistleout.
"I recently contacted Telstra to ask a question and the person I was chatting with volunteered a $10 per month discount and 5GB bonus data per month," Mr Hanlon said. "I didn't even have to ask, but the offer was contingent on me committing to the new plan for 12 months."
Car insurance renewals often cost customers money, claimed Abigail Koch from comparethemarket.com.au.
"If your car insurance is up for renewal don't just let it automatically rollover," Ms Koch said. "It's worth shopping around and also checking if your car is insured for an 'agreed value'. If this amount was set a few years ago the value of your car has likely decreased so you could be needlessly overpaying."
If you want to stay with your car insurer, but want a better price, obtain a quote from their website as a new customer and if it's cheaper than your renewal, call them and ask them to match the price.
Research by lender SocietyOne found that 52 per cent of Christmas expenditure would be paid for using credit or store cards, and a third of consumers admitted to using credit to get through the holidays.
Consolidating the debt into a personal loan can be a good way to slash the interest you are paying on it, SocietyOne spokeswoman Maria Loyez said.