Have you ever gotten really excited about all of the money you were going to save by making a budget and finally taking control of your spending? Maybe you flirted with the idea of budgeting before, but this time you’re determined to stick to it! The first time you go to the grocery with your new budget in mind, you spend 5 minutes deciding whether or not you should spend the extra $.50 on your favorite brand or buy the cheaper generic. You end up making the choice the old you would and buy your favorite brand, and then spend the rest of the day beating yourself up about how the new you should have saved $.50 and bought the generic. You’ll do better next time.
For the rest of the month, you save $.50 every time you’re at the grocery by buying the generic brand. It doesn’t taste as good, but that’s the price you pay for saving money, right?! Then at the end of the month, you’re so excited to see how much money you saved by torturing yourself and buying all generic brands that month. After adding everything up the disappointment sets in when you find out that you barely saved any money. I mean you tortured yourself and thought endlessly about every purchase you made! How could this be possible?!
Have you been this person? Yea, me too.
Instead of focusing a ton of your time and energy on budgeting and barely saving any money each month, I’m going to let you in on a money-saving trick I just discovered. It’s a lot easier, takes a lot less time, and will save you a lot more money.
Last month, my husband noticed some problems with my mom’s internet speed so he logged into her account to see if he could figure out what was going on. Before he could locate the problem, he got distracted by how expensive her internet and cable bill was. To figure out why on earth she was paying so much for such spotty service, he started digging into all of the charges on her bill. The first thing he noticed was that she had been paying for a landline since she moved into her house 10 years ago, even though she’s NEVER had one. On top of that finding, there were also other services she had been paying for but wasn’t using. She was obviously in desperate need of a plan revision, so he called up her internet provider and updated her plan.
His efforts resulted in her saving $200/month just on cable and internet! The reason she had been paying so much was because she was grandfathered in on a plan that was more expensive but provided shoddier service. This got my husband and I thinking about all of the plans we had, like internet, phone, cable, insurance, etc. that we had never updated. How much money were we losing by just continuing our plans instead of regularly updating them?
The answer was, $240/month! We had been paying over $200 every month for services we didn’t need, and for plans that we’re outdated. That adds up to a savings of almost $3,000 a year, and will last us the next 12 months! The best part is that getting these savings only took us a few hours over one weekend. That’s a lot less time and stress than budgeting, and in most cases, a lot more effective. Below is a list of everything that we were able to save on, and how much we saved.
- Car insurance – $130
- Cable streaming – $30
- Internet – $30
- Phone – $30
- XM radio – $20
Total savings – $240/month
If you went through our list and realized that you also need to update your plans, to make this as easy as possible for you I’ve outlined the process we used to get our savings below.
We found that to get the best rates, you need to regularly negotiate with your providers for pretty much all of your services. Your providers are busy updating their offerings all of the time, and if you aren’t trying to keep up, you’re going to miss out. I know negotiating seems scary, but the process we used was a lot easier than budgeting and took a lot less time. Here is exactly what we did to reduce our rates and save hundreds of dollars every month.
1. Know what you will and won’t accept before going in.
The first thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with the plan you have, what parts of the plan you want to keep, and any parts you’re willing to give up. For example, my husband knew he didn’t want to reduce our internet speed just to save money, so when they offered him that option, he didn’t take it. If you’re happy with the service you currently have, you don’t want to compromise that just to save a few dollars. The point of this isn’t to make yourself miserable with the cheapest possible service, it’s to get the best deal for the services you want and actually use.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with your current plan and provider, you should get to know the competition. If another company can offer you the services you want at a lower price, you will have the upper hand when you negotiate with your current provider. If they can’t match the competition, you can take your business elsewhere.
Cable/TV, and internet are areas where you definitely need to do this. We canceled our cable a few years ago and went with a cable streaming service instead. This saved us a lot of money at the time, but we had no idea how much our new streaming provider had increased prices over the competition in the last few years. We ended up finding two other providers that were half as expensive and started a free trial with both. After a couple of days of trying the new providers out, we picked our favorite one and immediately cut our “cable” bill in half. If you’re lucky enough to have multiple internet or cable providers in your area, make sure to compare the deals offered by each company and use them during your negotiations. This is also a great strategy to use with insurance providers.
2. Tell them you don’t want to pay that much.
I’m serious. It’s that easy. We literally said on the phone (or sometimes in the live chat box), ”I don’t want to pay as much as I’m paying right now.” The best thing about approaching the negotiations this way is that you don’t have to come into the conversation knowing exactly what plan you want. Instead, your provider will look at your plan and come back to you with all of the options they have to help you save money.
One way they find you savings is if they notice that you are paying for services that you aren’t using (like a landline in my mom’s case) and offer you a plan that is cheaper and doesn’t include that service. This is great because you’ll still have all of the services you were using before while saving money by canceling the ones you weren’t.
Another way they may find you savings is if they’ve updated their plans and promotions since the last time you contacted them. Often times when you sign up for a plan you’re given a promotional rate. After a year or so, the promotional rate expires, and you’re moved to the normal rate. Many companies will offer you the promotional rate again if you call to reduce your bill even though you aren’t a new customer. If you don’t call annually to do this, you may be grandfathered into an outdated and expensive plan like my mom was. Having them update you to their new plan options and/or give you a promotional rate allows you to maintain the same level of service while paying less.
3. Cancel any plans you aren’t using.
If you decided to switch providers or signed up for free trials in step 1, make sure to cancel all of the plans you won’t be using going forward. This entire process should only take you a couple of days, so take note of anything you need to cancel as you’re going through the process and make sure it actually gets canceled before you celebrate your savings! This sounds like a no brainer, but we’ve all signed up for free trials and then forgotten to cancel the subscriptions before we got charged.
And that’s it! It’s really that simple! In one weekend you can find hundreds of dollars in savings that will last you an entire year, and you won’t have to feel stressed and anxious about every purchase you make. Now set up your reminder for 1 year from now so you don’t forget to negotiate all of your savings again next year!
*I want to give a huge shout out and thank you to my husband since he was the one who actually did the work on this for us! You’re the best!