Anyone on a budget knows that keeping your monthly bills as low as possible is the key to success. When you can lower what you owe monthly, you can then have more room in your budget to put towards saving, debt repayment, or just to reward yourself for working so hard.
But how exactly do you negotiate lowering your monthly bills? This article will discuss which bills are negotiable, as well as the top four ways to negotiate your bills to save money.
Which Bills Are Negotiable?
You might be surprised to find that almost all of your monthly bills could be up for negotiation. This includes:
● Credit cards
● Cell phone plans
● Cable or satellite TV
● Medical bills
● Auto, home, or life insurance premiums
● Gym memberships
Almost all your bills may have room for negotiation. But before you pick up the phone to start making calls, read through these tips:
- Do Your Research
Successful negotiations should always start with being well-informed. First, take a careful look at your most recent bill and make sure you understand all the charges. If anything looks unusual, or you’re paying for something you never use, that’s a good place to start. Second, find out what other providers’ charge and what people you know pay for the same services. If you know you can get the same service for less somewhere else, there’s a good chance the company will be willing to work with you.
- Talk to the Right Person at the Right Time
Your first instinct may be to make some calls on the weekend or after work when you have more free time, but these times aren’t the best to try and negotiate your bill. If you call when everyone else is trying to call, the customer service representative may feel rushed, stressed, or even overwhelmed, thus making them less inclined to listen.
A better plan is to call between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Since most people work during these hours, customer service representatives will be less busy. They’ll have more time to listen to you and make accommodations.
In addition, make sure you talk to the right person. Not everyone in the company will have the power to negotiate. If you reach an automated line, you will probably be presented with the option to cancel your services. This will quickly put you in touch with someone in the retention department, whose entire job is to keep you as a customer.
- Be Friendly, Polite, and Respectful
Even if you feel frustrated about your bills, it’s important to remain calm and try to put yourself in the place of the person who answers the phone. Who would you be more willing to help, someone who sounds demanding and angry, or someone who sounds cheerful and kind?
Even if you can’t negotiate a lower bill this time, you will never regret being polite and respectful.
- Know What to Ask
When you call to negotiate a bill, make sure you understand what is reasonable to request. Here are some general guidelines:
● Credit card bills: First, check your bill, so you know how much you owe. Then check your credit. If you have a good credit score, it could help your negotiation. If you have a strong history of consistently making on-time payments, you could also use that as a reason to lower your interest rate.
If you get turned down, you can try again in the future once you’ve established a history of on-time payments. As a last option, you could transfer the balance to a credit card with a lower interest rate.
● Home, Auto, and Student Loans: If you’ve been making your car payment or mortgage payment on time, you may find refinancing is an option.
When it comes to your student loan, many lenders will offer a discount to set up automatic payments. Another option is to consolidate or refinance your student loans for a lower interest rate.
● Phone, Cable, Internet, or Satellite: Many times, if you go with the same provider for your phone service, cable/satellite, and internet, the company will offer a bundle discount.
With these services, you can also try asking outright for their best price. This may mean agreeing to a contract if you aren’t already in one.
● Insurance Premiums: Insurance companies usually offer a bundle discount if you use multiple services. They will often also offer a discount if you pay your premium for six months or a year at a time rather than in monthly installments.
● Hospital or Medical Bills: First, make sure you read your itemized bill carefully so you can ensure you haven’t been charged for services never rendered. Ask about anything that doesn’t look right. Another option is to talk to the finance department and ask for a reduction in your bill. Sometimes you’ll be able to settle your bill for less than the full amount.
● Subscriptions and Gym Memberships: Sometimes people sign up for a new subscription or membership because of an enticing introductory rate. It’s worth seeing if you have the option to go back to that new-customer rate.
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