Top 10 Ways to Beat Your Bills Big Time
August 9, 2011
Don’t let your bills get the best of you. You can save money, get a better deal, and still enjoy many of the things you enjoy in your daily life. Here are 10 tips on how to overcome your monthly bills.
10 Ways to Save on Monthly Costs
1. Don’t Have Bills
The easiest way to beat you bills? Don’t have them. If you have extra cash left over each month then you have more freedom to splurge on monthly bills. But if you are drowning in debt you need to cut back to the basics: a roof over your head, food for your family, clothing on your backs, and transportation to continue to earn income. That may mean selling your financed car and buying a beater to drive while you get out of debt. It may mean living without cable for a while. These sacrifices can accelerate your journey out of debt and into your financial future.
2. Cut Back on Services
If you can’t force yourself to completely eliminate a bill, you can try cutting back. Maybe you need the internet to be able to earn income at home as a freelance writer. Instead of getting the maximum speed plan, cut back to a slower speed. You’ll be able to keep the functionality of the service while saving money on a monthly basis.
3. Avoid Fees: Set Up Auto Pay
Companies want to keep you as a customer, but they also want to get paid. Late fees are essentially a short term extension of credit so you have time to get the funds together to pay a bill. But if you calculate the annual interest rate you are paying with a $15 late fee on a $100 monthly cable bill, it is astronomically high. Setting up auto pay can help you track those bills that come in at various times at the month. With auto payment your bills are guaranteed to be paid on time. This should cut out all the fees that are hitting you from service providers.
4. Don’t Let Auto Pay Fool You
While setting up automatic payments for your bills can help you avoid late fees, it can also be an easy mental trap to fall into. You might not notice an extra maintenance charge that the service provider slips into your monthly bill because you aren’t paying as much attention to your bills. It is a lot easier to “set it and forget it” with your bills, which can end up costing you over time.
5. Negotiate a Better Deal
If you’ve been coasting along on automatic payments for a while, your bill has inevitably edged higher ever so much. Call the company and ask for a discount. It really can be that simple. If the customer service representative gives you push back, ask to be transferred to customer retention or to the cancellation department. These departments have the tools to get you a “new customer deal” in order to keep you as a customer. You could cut your bill by 25 to 50% just by asking. If they call your bluff, cancel! You can always get cable from someone else or come back in a month or two.
6. Pay in Full, Not in Installments
American society is built on installment payments. Everything can be made in “14 easy payments” or costs “only $9.99 per month!” While it is certainly easier to only have to pay a certain amount per month for an item, it is never the better financial choice. When you pay in monthly installments one of two things happen: you either pay interest to the firm, or you lose all negotiating leverage and end up paying full price. Worse yet, you might pay interest and pay full price. The alternative is to walk in to a store knowing you can buy the item for cash that instant. The company won’t have to worry about collecting your payments, and you won’t risk defaulting on the balance. You can usually negotiate a better deal by paying in full up front.
7. Become a New Customer
It’s ironic: to attract new customers, service providers give the best discounts to someone that isn’t a customer. Their loyal customers of 5 years pay full price and don’t get any discounts. If you try to negotiate in step 5 and it doesn’t work, simply cancel your service and become some other company’s new customer. There are more than enough businesses out there waiting for your call. They’ll cut you a deal to get your business just like your service provider did originally.
8. Get Rewarded for Payment
Do you write paper checks and mail them in for payment? Are you able to control your spending on credit and pay off your balance every month? If so, ditch the checks, save the cost of stamps and envelopes, and start earning credit card rewards for your monthly bills. You could earn points to be redeemed for gift cards, miles for your next plane ticket on a vacation, or my favorite, straight up cash back that can be used or saved wherever you like.
9. Research Before Buying
The best time to save money on a monthly bill is before you agree to a contract. Really dig in and do your research before signing on the dotted line. Do research online about the quality of the service, if other users feel they have been scammed, or if the company really is legitimate. A lot of headaches can be avoided by not buying from a company. The headaches start after they have your cash.
10. Read the Fine Print
Likewise, if you are ready to buy, do yourself a favor and read the fine print one last time. Keep the mentality of “What’s the catch?” Is there an early termination fee? Are you signing a long term contract? Is your price guaranteed for a short period of time before jumping up? All of these details will be included in your customer service agreement or contract. Read it!
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