Money’s tight, right? And those too-high bills can feel like a punch to the gut.
But your expenses and cash outflows may be higher than they need to be. In fact, you may be able to trim them by hundreds of dollars just by speaking up.
Read the following tips for help negotiating some of your most important bills.
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.
Call your carrier. Ask for a rate reduction, pointing out how long you’ve been a customer and saying you’d rather not have to leave.
Ask if any promotions or limited-time special rates are available. But be willing to leave your current carrier if you don’t get the satisfaction you think you deserve.
Depending on what you want to watch — and whether you can get it for free elsewhere — cable may be cheaper than multiple streaming services, especially if you can negotiate your rate.
First, identify any other local cable companies with lower prices to give yourself leverage in bargaining. If you successfully negotiate a better rate, watch monthly statements to make sure the cable provider does make the reduction. (It may come as a statement credit.)
You can also look into using a service such as BillCutterz that negotiates for a better deal on internet, phone, cable and other monthly bills — lowering them for the customer in return for a cut of the savings.
3. Credit cards
If you have a high interest rate on your credit card, monthly minimum payments won’t go far toward reducing the overall balance.
However, credit card companies may work with you to lower minimum payments, interest rate and even the total balance owed.
Get started by reviewing all of your bills. Decide what monthly 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. These folks 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.
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.
First, learn what level of coverage is required where you live, including state coverage requirements for bodily injury and property damage.
Do you need all the coverage you have? For instance, if your premiums equal 10% or more of the vehicle’s current value, paying for comprehensive and collision coverage may not be worth it anymore. Consider dropping those aspects of your coverage.
Shop around by getting quotes from multiple insurers. You can do this yourself, but you no longer need to. Third-party services like Provide can do it for you almost instantly.
If you rarely drive, consider paying for car insurance by the mile. This is possible through companies like MetroMile.
Regardless of your insurer, continue comparison shopping for lower premiums at least every other year. Unsupervised, they will creep back up.
5. Medical bills
Even if you have health insurance, your medical bills may be too big to manage. But these too can be negotiated. Stacy 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?”