WINTER WARMERS

When the winter chill bites at your back pocket, the flow of your cold hard cash begins to freeze. But there are some simple savers that can warm up your money pool.

From cutting your phone and power bills to getting the most from your bank, author and Smart Investor editor, Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon reveals the debt busting tool the banks haven't told you about.

"Millions of Australians think if they pay extra on their mortgage they will protect themselves if something goes wrong -- if they lose their job or if interest rates go up -- because they can stop mortgage repayments. They can't. Also what you're doing by making extra payments if potentially cutting yourself out of tax deductions down the track if you subsequently sell your house", Nicole said.

So if you are really determined to loosen the shackles of debt, then an offset account is the way to start. Whatever savings you have in this account will come off your mortgage and lessen the interest you will pay. "What it is, is an account that runs alongside your mortgage. By making repayments not directly into your mortgage but into your offset account, you get an identical saving but a: the money is quarantined from the bank and b: the Australian Taxation Office doesn't know it's there", Nicole said.

Australians waste a staggering one billion dollars a year simply by being on the wrong phone plan. Michelle Collins from 'Cheap Phone Deals' offers free help in finding the right plan for your home and business phones, as well as those expensive mobiles. "The service that we offer is totally free. We try and take the confusion out of the market place; we put you on an honest plan with no smoke and mirrors, and finally, just offer value and save you money", Michelle said.

So we put Michelle to the test, introducing her to Anna Ritson who runs a freelance make up service and is keen to save on her rising phone bills. Anna kept using her phones as normal, while Michelle re-worked her plans for maximum savings. The results were outstanding.

The old plan for Anna was $50 a month. By moving to a $49 capped plan with the same telco, she now has the added bonus of $200 extra free calls per month. As for her land line -- her old bill- $234. Changing to 'People Telecom', her bill was almost halved at $122. Saving around one and half thousand dollars per year

During a chilly winter we can have a bit of a shock when it comes to our power bills. Shaun Garrard's new computer program 'Bill Checker' detects errors in your meter reading and breaks down how much each electrical item costs to run.

Just take a look at how much it is costing you to leave these three appliances on stand by. Our TV costs $9.50 a year; the microwave is around the same at $9.50; and keeping the home at a regular temperature -- $24 a year. It is possible to save $43.00 a year by simply turning them off when they are not being used.

All simple saving ideas helping to bust those winter bills.

For further information:

Nicole Pederson-MiKinnon: 'Halve your debt and Double your Freedom' available at <http://www.nomumbojumbo.com.au/> and all good book stores

Cheap Phone Deals, visit the website at: www.cheapphonedeals.com.au <http://www.cheapphonedeals.com.au> or phone 1300 883 913

Bill Checker: Visit the website at: www.billcheck.com.au <http://www.billcheck.com.au>