Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lower Your Monthly Bills without Losing a Thing!

I've decided that today I'm going to share a few tips on how I lowered our monthly bills with very little time and effort. The best part of this is that it doesn't hurt your credit, you get more for your money, and just about anyone can do it.

When my husband's hours got cut at work, one of the first things I did was sit down at my computer to go over my budget. Yes, I have a budget, and I've found it very useful in keeping our finances in line over the years.

What could I cut? We were already eating all our meals at home. I was packing breakfast and lunch for my husband, and making good, but inexpensive dinners. Our entertainment fund was already severely cut and I was maximizing my grocery savings (see how I did this at http://www.ehow.com/how_4800520_save-money-groceries.html). What else was there?

Medical bills are one of the easiest creditors to negotiate a lower rate with. In my case, I called and asked that my $50 a month payments be dropped to $25. I explained our situation and they were more than happy to work with me. They also charge me no interest as long as I make my payment every month.

I called our satellite company. We've been with Dish Network for almost eight years now. We found them to be cheaper with more channels than our local cable company and we've had very few problems with reception. Before I called them, I looked at what they were offering new customers. I also compared them to the competition (Here it is DirectTV--who also happens to bundle with my phone company, so I knew I could get a discounted rate with them).

I knew what I wanted and called them to see if they would give it to me. Once I let them know that I was a longstanding customer, was aware of their promotions and that I was tempted by their competition, they were more than happy to work with me. They gave me a $10 credit per month on my bill for five months, free Dish Home Protection Plan on my equipment for nine months. Free Premium HD Programming for three months, Free HBO, Showtime and Starz for three months, and 12 months of Cinemax for a penny.

I called my phone company (Qwest, who also provides my DSL) to see if they would do the same type of thing. They were less willing to work with me even though I've been a good customer for nearly four years. So I called their competition (Comcast). I asked what their current promotions were for phone and internet.

I found that I could get faster internet than what I currently have (test your internet speed here: http://www.speedtest.net/index.php), unlimited long distance (which I have now), and more phone features for nearly $40 less than I'm currently paying. There is a small catch to this in that my rate would go up after six months, but I can downgrade for free with no problems.

Also, even once I downgrade I would be getting the same speed of internet that I currently have and still have the bonus phone features for $35 less a month than what I pay now. I also get to keep my current phone number, so I can't lose! When I asked them if they were still offering deals on installation charges (which regularly run $100 for the two services together), they asked what special I was looking for. I turned the question back on them and asked what was the best one they could offer me. I got it for $25 total!

So you can definitely get what you want for less if you know how to do it, and I've just told you how. Just be informed, know what's available, let them know that you have less income, but want to keep your services with them, but will go to their competition if necessary.

If you have any more ideas on how to save money, I'd be glad to hear them!