Money’s tight, right? Those too-high bills can feel like a punch to the gut.
These expenses and cash outflows offer opportunities to save, though. Done right, you may be able to trim hundreds of dollars.
Here’s help negotiating some of your most-important bills.
Smartphones and cellphones are a lifeline, but plans can be expensive, especially with unlimited data and several lines on an account.
Here’s what to do:
- Analyze your plan and monthly usage. Trim costs by reducing or eliminating data or services you don’t use.
- Assess competitors’ rates to help you in negotiating.
- Call your carrier. Ask for a rate reduction, pointing out how long you’ve been a customer. Say you don’t want to leave.
- Ask if any promotions or limited-time special rates are available.
- Be willing to leave your current carrier if you don’t get the satisfaction you think you deserve.
Comparison shop among cellphone plans in the Money Talks News Solutions Center.
A few tips:
- Identify other cable companies with lower prices to give yourself leverage in bargaining.
- If you successfully negotiate a better rate, watch your monthly statements to make sure the cable provider does make the reduction.
- Look into using a service like Trim or BillCutterz that negotiates consumers’ internet, phone, cable and other monthly bills for a cut of the savings.
- Think about cutting your cable service.
Learn more: “4 Ways to Cut TV Costs to $25 a Month — or Less.”
3. Credit cards
If you have a high interest rate, your credit card’s monthly minimum payments won’t go far toward reducing your overall balance.
However, credit card companies may work with you to lower your minimum payments, interest rate and even the total balance owed.
Get started by reviewing all of your bills. Decide what monthly card payment you can realistically commit to. Make a monthly budget to find that number.
Depending on the severity of the debt, you may need a trustworthy credit counselor to help. They give advice, identify options and help you protect your credit. Two nonprofits, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and Consumer Credit Counseling Services, offer consumer-first services. And you’ll find help with debt, including credit card debt, in the Money Talks News Solutions Center.
4. Auto insurance
Watch any big-time sporting event on TV, and you’ll quickly realize that many companies are vying for your car insurance dollars. This competition gives you bargaining power.
Here’s how to use that bargaining power to lower your car insurance costs:
- Begin the quest to lower your insurance costs by reading Stacy’s quick “Complete Guide to Getting the Best Possible Deal on Car Insurance.”
- Learn what level of coverage is required where you live, including state requirements for bodily injury and property damage.
- If your premiums equal 10% or more of the vehicle’s value, buying comprehensive and collision coverage may not be worth it. Consider dropping those aspects of your coverage.
- Shop around by getting quotes from multiple insurers. You can do this yourself or let a third-party service like The Zebra or Gabi Personal Insurance Agency do it for you.
- Consider paying for car insurance by the mile, meaning based on how much you drive. This is possible through companies like Metromile.
- After you select an insurer, continue comparison shopping at least every other year.
For one more way to lower your auto insurance bill, check out “5 Memberships That Offer Car Insurance Discounts.”
5. Medical bills
Even if you have health insurance, your medical bills may be too big. If so:
- Learn how to negotiate medical bills. Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson offers advice in “2-Minute Money Manager: How Do I Get Help With Medical Debt?“
- If you have a high-deductible medical plan and must pay the fee out of pocket, explain this to the creditor.
- Ask for a drastic reduction in your unpaid balance or for a 0% interest repayment plan.
- Make an offer, such as, “Suppose I give you half the amount I owe, but pay it all today?”
- Make sure you’ve been charged a fair rate. Use the Healthcare Bluebook to compare medical costs in your area.
Have you had success lowering your bills through negotiation? Share your stories and tips by making a comment below or on our Facebook page.
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