Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Money Monday (on Tuesday): Just Ask

With the economy the way it is, many of us are looking for ways to trim our budgets. Actually, many of us are ALWAYS lookin for ways to trim our budgets, just now even more people are trying to be more frugal. One place people assume cannot be trimmed is their utility bills (phone, cable, internet, etc). Did you know that many of these companies will give you the "new" customer rate if you simply ask for it? I have found it best to simply say something like, "I am looking for ways to reduce our costs and was wondering if it was possible to get the special I saw on tv/billboard/etc?" When I did this with my cable internet, I was told I could get the new special ($29.99 per month vs. $39.99 per month for one year) or I could get their "lite" version of internet for $24.99 per month as long as we had it. For us, we do not download a whole lot so the lite version was going to work great. A year later, I got a letter from the company stating they are doing away with the lite version, but will upgrade us for free and keep our rates the same. We are moving in a few weeks and since we are transferring our service, the deal stays the same (I called to verify this). This is the same service others are paying $40 a month for (plus an additional $5 if they do not also get digital cable, which we do not, but we do not pay the extra $5 with our plan either) and it is even lower than what new customers pay.

Another place this helped us in the past was with our cell phone service. Most services will allow you to change your plan, increase or decrease, as necessary, though you may need to sign a new contract to do so. When we started our plan, we could change it every month as needed without a new contract, but they have since changed that. None the less we saved ourselves a ton of money on overages a few times by increasing our plan when we realized we were going to be over and then decreaing it again the following month.

Another, tricker way to lower some of these "optional" bills is to simply tell the company you are considering stopping your service all together or switching to a competitor. Often, they will sweeten your current deal either by increasing your services or lowering your bill. It all comes down to simply calling them and asking.

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