Five calls you can make now to save hundreds to thousands of dollars

by Xin Lu on 24 October 2008 17 comments

In the current economic climate, everyone is trying to save a buck. I know some families that have budgets so tight that there is no room for saving, but I think it is possible for most of us to cut our expenses by negotiating with the vendors we deal with everyday.  For example, here are five places anyone could call right now to possibly save hundreds to thousands of dollars.  

1. Your car insurance
-  Your car insurer is usually open to negotiating your insurance rates.  You should definitely call your insurer if you got married recently, moved to a profession considered to be "safe" by the insurance companies, or if you moved closer to work.  These lifestyle changes could potentially lower your rates by hundreds of dollars if you are a young driver.  Besides reporting these changes, you could also shop around for cheaper quotes and see if your current insurance company is willing to keep your business for a lower rate.  

2. Your homeowner's insurance - If  you do have a homeowner's insurance policy, it is possible to raise your deductible for a lower rate or just shop around for a lower quote.  Some insurance companies are willing to match a competitor's quote to keep a customer.

3. Your credit card company
- If you carry a balance on your credit cards, it does not hurt to call and ask for a rate reduction.  Your credit card issuers are happy to charge you the highest rate they could squeeze out of you, but a simple phone call to request a lower rate could save you a bundle in interest payments.  A national survey conducted by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group in March 2002 showed that more than half of 50 consumers who called their credit card issuers for lower rates received a reduction , and their average interest rates went from 16 percent to 10.47 percent. This represents an average discount of more than 30% on interest payments and that would help anyone get out of debt faster.    

4. Cancel cable or subscription TV - I still have cable tv because it is included in the condo we rent, but I rarely watch it because so many network and cable shows are legally online at websites like Hulu.com or station specific websites such as CBS.com or SciFi.com.  Sure, these websites do not have every single episode of every single show on TV, but there are enough hours of entertainment to keep anyone quite busy.  Basic cable costs around $40 a month, so cancelling it amounts to $480 a year.    If you cannot live without your shows, then just remember that $480 is enough to purchase the full season DVDs of about 8 to 10 shows a year.  So if you are a fan of just a few shows, then it may be cheaper to buy them on DVD.

5. Your cellphone company - First, you should evaluate if you need all the minutes and features in your plan.  If you use only a small portion of your allowed minutes, then it is probably wise to downgrade.  It is also helpful to shop around and see if your plan is more expensive than competing plans.  If so, ask if your phone company will be willing to match the rate of another plan.  

The bottom line is that it never hurts to ask because the worst thing that could happen is that these companies refuse your request.  However in the current market, companies do not want to lose customers so chances are they will be willing to negotiate.  If you do not deal with any of these companies, then I encourage you to think of the various services you use on a monthly basis and see where you could cut back or get a better deal.  It could take you a couple hours to speak to all of these folks in your life, but you may be able to trim your spending by thousands of dollars a year. 

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Guest's picture
Sarah

So I had read plenty articles like this informing consumers to call up their service providers and talk the price down. I thought this would never work for me and seemed useless until my Comcast cable bill began to stun me at how expensive it was. I decided to give it a shot and simply called customer service and said I was calling to see how I could get my monthly cable costs lowered. I went from paying $130/month to $80/month (including internet) without any haggling or threatening! I highly recommend giving it a go.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

Yup, just last year I called comcast and lowered my internet bills by $20 a month.  Also this year I had the hubby call his car insurance company a couple times and they lowered his rate by 40% for a) getting married b) turning 25. 

Myscha Theriault's picture

If you drive less than a certain number of miles a month, you can get lower rates on your auto insurance as well.

We've also done the higher deductible thing, and it helps for sure. Particularly if there's a type or level of coverage you'd like to have that you might not be able to afford otherwise.

Guest's picture

I did this expriment. Because the number of miles driven a month were less, i got lower rates on my auto insurance. I can recommend it for sure.

Guest's picture
Michael

Do you still subscribe to a newspaper that gets physically delivered to your house? Online newsfeeds are more up to date, and in many regions you can read even local news online.

Guest's picture
Guest

Good advice!

I'm with Michael -- I'm all about the RSS! I also have a separate email account just for newsletters and promotional offers from companies. If you must read something at the breakfast table, try getting a book from the library.

Guest's picture

I've seen a couple of them before, but its always a good reminder for those who say but don't do ;)

Linsey Knerl's picture

We only get the Sunday paper.  We use the coupons  :)  The rest goes to supplement our heating bill (i.e. put on top of the kinding in our wood stove.)

Good article, Xin!

Maggie Wells's picture

Thursdays often have all the weekend events---free and not free--so it's important to get that one too. There are a few papers still worth their ink.

Margaret Garcia-Couoh

Guest's picture
Diane from PA

"If you cannot live without your shows, then just remember that $480 is enough to purchase the full season DVDs of about 8 to 10 shows a year. So if you are a fan of just a few shows, then it may be cheaper to buy them on DVD."

And then resell them on Amazon for almost as much as you paid!

Guest's picture
Guest

IF YOUR TIME IS IMPORTANT TO YOU, NEVER USE CAPITAL ONE CREDIT CARD. They are the worst in the industry! For the 4th or 5th time in a few months, they have put a hold on my credit card for no reason. It is so embarrasing! I am waiting in line to pay the cashier at a supermarket and the card gets declined. I know that there is plenty of money on the card, so I called the customer service number. Guess what? I am transferred to India, where I could barely understand the customer rep's thick Indian accent. I had to repeat my card number several times, then she argues that the number I gave is not a legitimate number. I said, "What?!" I am reading the card that you, guys issued me and I have been using this same card for years. Then, she puts me on hold for several minutes. Upon her return, I remind her that I am still holding up the line at the supermarket and people are starting to glare at me like it's my fault that my credit card is having problems. The service rep asks me to repeat the credit card number 2 more times, puts me on hold for 3 more minutes and then says that there is no hold on the card and for the cashier to try to run it again. For the 4th time, the store cashier runs the card and again, the computer screen says that the card is declined. I tell the service rep this, and she still insists that it is not on their end, but on the store's end. The cashier runs the card 2 more times. Same thing. I ask the service rep to be transferred to a supervisor and she says in "an-i-don't-give-a-crap" voice, "I can't transfer you until I exhaust all the troubleshooting possibilities. What are the last 3 digits on the back of your card?" I give her the number and she says, "That is an invalid code". Again, I shriek, '"What?! I am simply reading the back of my card and I have used this code and this card for years? What is going on?" She says (amused), "Hold the line..." Again, I was on hold for several minutes, then she comes back on the line and said, "I don't see any problem on the card. Run the card again... Maybe this time it will work." I ask the cashier (who at this time, is now glaring at ME), to run the card one last time. Guess what? Card is still declined and the phone goes dead! Unbelievable!

Guest's picture

My office pays for my cell phone, but my wife is on her own. She hardly uses any minutes but when she does use the phone it's extremely handy, enough to justify the cost. Net10 has the absolute best deal anywhere for minimal users: $16.05 after taxes gets us 150 minutes per month, and she still hasn't used up the introductory 300 minutes. It's prepaid BUT you can sign up for Easy Minutes which automatically deducts from your CC and adds the minutes to your card every month. Not bad!

We even ported our old cell number, but be forewarned: These people are very low tech; porting from AT&T to Net10 took almost a week, while porting my phone from AT&T to Sprint at the same time took just 30 minutes. Customer no-service is so-so but improves if you have a friend who speaks Spanish ;-) Net10 uses the high-quality GSM network along with AT&T/T-Mobile, etc.

Other prepaid services have daily fees or lower-cost minutes but monthly fees. For the amount she uses, Net10 is super.

One downside to Net10 is calls to voicemail and nights+weekend are not free.

If you use more than 150 minutes, it may be time to consider one of the unlimited plans. We have a few in our area such as MetroPCS. I can't speak for their quality.

Hope that helps! Since my office pays for my phone, our monthly bill is ONLY $16.05 after taxes. WOW!

Guest's picture
Mary

Dave.
Ramsey.

Maggie Wells's picture

We just called the Waste Management company in our area and informed them that more often than not we only put out half a can in a week (go recycling!). So, now they' cut our bill in half. We just saved ourselves $200 a year.

 

Margaret Garcia-Couoh

Guest's picture
Guest

Great blog info. I just wanted to let you and your bloggers know that Equity Express is now offering free biweekly conversions on existing and new mortgages. Normally costing a few hundred dollars, it’s now free to the consumer to help ease expenses in these trying economic times. I'm actually saving over $60,000 and cut 7 years off of my loan. People this is a no brainer!Equity Express (888) 438-5536

Guest's picture
Carl

Another great article, Xin. I went to the Ramsey site upon Mary's suggestion and trying to find anything worthwhile on the site is like tip-toeing through a mine-field. I think your readers will enjoy http://www.financialtales.com a little more.

Guest's picture
Amy

My husband and I were faithful to our cell phone carriers for over 2 years. After getting charged ridiculous amounts of extra fees and overages, we finally decided to cancel our subscriptions.

Now, we use the Boost Mobile unlimited chat plan. It is a pay as you go service, which is wonderful. 1$ a day for unlimited texts and mobile to mobile conversations (which is what my husband and I did all the time anyway).

This saved us hundreds of dollars a month.

We also switched our landline phone to Vonage, and instead of paying 112.00 bill each month, it's now 33.00. =]