Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.
Putting money back into your pocket every month by lowering your bills would be great, right? By making a few key phone calls and being a smart consumer, you can do just that. All you need to get the job done is some dedicated time to get the right person on the phone.
Easier said than done, right? But trust me — once you do it and start saving some dough, you’ll want to call every company, utility and service provider you pay.
Here are a few ideas to jump-start “Operation Phone Call Savings.”
Your cable TV and/or internet provider
If you haven’t chatted with someone in customer service about your account in a while, this call could be worth your while. When you’re going through the automated phone system, choose whichever option mentions making changes to your account.
Service providers will jump at the chance to upsell you or get you to sign a new contract, so use that to your advantage. Ask about what promotions the company is offering loyal customers, and if need be, mention that you’re considering moving to a competitor.
At the very least, you may score a few months of some premium movie channels for free. But, if you’re comfortable with renewing a contract and/or bundling services, you may end up lowering your bill while upgrading your service.
Along the lines of the above, take a look at your current package to see if you’re paying for services you’re not using.
For instance, you might have a super plan with thousands of minutes, but you hardly ever use your cellphone. Or, your land line account might have charges involving international phone service, something you never use. Ask a representative to review your usage, and you may be able to trim your bill.
Be diligent about reviewing your insurance policies to make sure you have the coverage you need but also to ensure you aren’t paying more than is necessary.
For car insurance in particular, it doesn’t hurt to comparison-shop rates from time to time. There’s almost always a discount if you use the same company for all your insurance needs — auto and home, for example.
Credit card companies
If you’ve been a responsible borrower who makes payments on time and has an account in good standing, it never hurts to call your creditors and ask for a lower interest rate. You can also request an increase in your credit line, which will lower your debt utilization ratio (that’s the amount you owe compared with the amount of available credit).
A lower utilization is seen as favorable by the three credit bureaus, the entities that determine your credit score. This is important if you plan on applying for a car or home loan since a better credit score can mean lower interest rates, which can translate into thousands of dollars in savings over time.