19 Apr

Spring Cleaning your Spending: Trim Your Fixed Bills

Last post I wrote about how to save on the little luxuries you choose to buy every month. In the second part of the trilogy on reducing everyday spending, I want to look at your fixed costs–things that you routinely pay for every month when the bill comes due. Obviously your electric bill or car loan payments are non-negotiable, but you may be able to lower the cost of services like cable, internet, home phone and cell phone coverage.


Ask for a Discount

It sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Yet many companies are willing to give you a discount on their services if you simply call and ask–just remember to be friendly, not aggressive, and lead off by telling them you’ve been pleased with their services, but that you’re concerned about your budget. Ask if there is anything they can do.

If they initially seem unwilling to change the rate, you can try one (or all) of these tactics. (Again, remember to remain friendly.)

  • If another similar company is having a sale or discount deal, have the competitor’s rates handy, and ask if your company can beat or at least match that price.
  • If you’ve been a customer for some time, ask if they have a loyalty discount.
  • Ask if there are any unadvertised deals going, or
  • Ask if they can offer you, an existing customer, a deal you saw advertised for new customers.

Don’t be intimidated by the process–just remind yourself that it never hurts to ask. The worst case scenario is you keep paying what you’re already paying, but the best: a few minutes on the phone could save you a bundle on your next year’s costs! (I used this tactic for our family and was able to save over $30 per month on our cable, phone and internet service package!)

Talk About (or Consider) Change

One of the best ways to get a discount is to talk to your service provider about closing your account. Quite frankly, they want your monthly payment to keep rolling in, and most companies will make an effort to keep you around. If your yearly contract is up (or if you don’t have one), you could add that you are considering a switch to a different company when you are having a phone call such as the one suggested above. Most companies will have you transferred to their customer retention department if you tell them you want to cancel your account–and they are usually pretty good about trying to help you work out a good deal.

Tips:
Make sure you’ve done your research on competitor prices so you can ask them to meet or beat that price (and in case you need to actually make a switch to save money).

Also, if you have a contract, be sure it is up before you close your account–many companies will charge you a hefty fee for canceling early.

Cut Down

If you can’t get a discount on what you already have, you can choose to cut a portion of your services to reduce your monthly costs.

For example, with a cable bill you could:

  • Switch to basic cable,
  • Cut out premium channels, or
  • Forgo a DVR or HD programming.

With a cell phone bill you could:

  • Lower your monthly minute allotment,
  • Lower or forgo texting (just be sure to inform your texting teens!), or
  • If you have a data plan, you could cut back or switch to a regular cell phone.

Tip:
If you decide to go this route, I suggest you call in rather than making changes online. Talking to a live person can often help you get an unadvertised plan (or discounts) you might not otherwise be able to get. Let your customer service rep know what you need out of your service, and ask for suggestions about how you can cut down your bill.

Happy saving, and stay tuned for more money-saving tips in the spring cleaning series!

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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