3 Bills I've Negotiated -- and Lowered
by Maurie Backman | Published on Sept. 10, 2021
Nobody likes spending more money than they have to. I'm a big advocate of speaking up when bills climb.
As a general rule, I like to live below my means. I could afford a more expensive home, but I stay put because it allows me to spend less and put more money into savings.
Similarly, I do my best to keep my bills as affordable as possible, even when there's an unexpected increase in costs. Over the past year, I've seen my cable, cell phone, and lawn care bills increase. But I've spoken up about those increases and gotten them lowered.
1. My cable bill
My cable provider, which I use for internet service as well, constantly offers promotions. My husband and I like to take advantage of those deals because they can lower bills. It's when our promotions expire that we find ourselves less happy.
Recently, my cable bill rose by about $25 a month after a promotion ran out. Rather than accept that increase, I called to ask if there was anything they could do. I reminded them that I've been a customer for over 10 years, have always paid my bills on time, and have multiple services through them. The result? I got a small courtesy discount that took my $25 increase down to more like $15. All told, that's about $120 a year in savings. I'll take that.
2. My cell phone bill
For many years, I was on an affordable cell phone plan that worked for me. But recently, I've had more need to use my phone as an internet hotspot, so I needed a better data plan.
When I called my cell phone provider, the representative quoted a very large number to switch my plan. So I let it be known that I wasn't happy with that offer and asked if there was another option. My cell phone company set up a plan for me that would normally be more expensive, but became reasonable because the company waived the requirement to add an additional line. Had I not spoken up, I would've gotten stuck paying about $30 more a month than I do now.
3. My yard care bill
I have my lawn and backyard treated for mosquitos and ticks -- important when you have young children and a dog. I also have my grass treated to prevent weeds. A company comes out a few times a year and applies treatments, and I pay a single bill for all at the start of the season.
This year, that bill went up about $50. When I called and asked why, the company cited the increasing cost of gasoline. I didn't accept that answer. The company's home base is about 12 minutes from my house, so the gas costs aren't substantial. When I pointed this out, they agreed to retain the previous year's rate, so I didn't have to spend that extra $50.
It pays to negotiate
Some of your expenses may not be negotiable. For example, I've never walked into a grocery store, seen my cereal brand marked at $3, and asked customer service if I could pay $2 instead. And I've never marched over to a gas station attendant and asked for a break on filling up my car.
But some bills are negotiable, so it never hurts to speak up politely. You never know when a little effort could help you pay less and save more.
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