This is the 4th post in a series entitled “How I Save Money”. This will be a semi-regular series of posts detailing one way in which I’ve saved money for my family. Each tip will be my own experience, but something that you can easily replicate in your own money-saving journey, if you so choose.
You can see previous Money Saving Tips here.
Tip #4: Negotiate Your Bills
Negotiating your monthly bills is an easy way to save a ton of money for your family. Between the cable, electricity (may not be negotiable in your state), gym memberships, and alarm system, negotiating the rates has saved us thousands of dollars a year, and it only took a short phone call to accomplish.
I keep track of any contract or program dates for my utilities so that I know exactly when I need to start the renegotiating process. If you don’t have this handy, it’s OK, just pick up the phone and call. I like to do it right before the program or deal that I currently enjoy expires, so that I can shop around and have something in my back pocket to use in my negotiations. Just by visiting competitor’s websites, I can jot down several promotions and figure out what a comparable deal is with the other carriers.
If you live in Texas, and in an area where you can change electricity providers, make sure you check out PowerToChoose.org. It lists all of the different rate plans available in your zip code and all of the different providers. I’ve been with my current carrier for 6 years, but I’ve lowered my rate every year.
How To Lower Your Bills
In my experience, it’s best to ask to speak to the retention department. These are the people that have authority to do deals. The retention department is where they send you when you call to cancel. They can wheel and deal. Do not try this with any normal Customer Service Agent. Go straight to the Retention Department.
When I get on the line with the retention agent, I explain my problem. A few years ago, I did this with Time Warner Cable. I told them of the service that we had, and that since my current program promotion was about to expire, I wanted to see if they had any new promotions. They gave me a list of promotions, and I explained to them that I thought my bill was too high for the services that we have.
Remember when I said that I like to be able to shop around and have another deal from another carrier to use in my negotiations? This is where it comes in handy. It’s good to know what competitors are offering, so that you can tell your current company that “I can get X service with X carrier for $X.” Then see what they can do. Also, be prepared to walk. If they know you’re ready to jump ship to someone else, they start handing out deals. If they don’t, leave. Competing companies LOVE new customers!
Back to that Time Warner example from a few years ago, I was able to negotiate our cable bill to $51 before tax, including free DVR and free Showtime for a year. Our previous promotion was slightly more than that, about $55 pre-tax. We only had 2 HD boxes, one of which is a DVR, and one Digital Cable box. We had no other Premium channels.
You may not have the same experience, but this should give you an idea of how the process should go. As anytime when you are negotiating, prepare to walk away if they don’t give you an offer that is acceptable to you. Remember to be nice, polite, and very patient. This will get you very far. A current customer is always cheaper than a new customer, so they want to keep you! Also, remember to take notes and names down. That way, you don’t forget what they offered or who you talked to.
We’ve saved thousands of dollars over the last 5 years or so by making a few short phone calls. That’s why Negotiating Your Bills is my #4 Money Saving Tip.
Check out all of my easy, actionable money-saving tips in my post 15 Easy Ways to Save Money!
Let me know what types of money saving tips you’d like to see me write about! You can leave a comment on this post, or you can email me at stacy at stacyssavings.com.