OK – I had a post a while back where I was going to explain how I lowered prices/got deals on various “optional” services – stuff like TV, Internet, phone – that type of thing. I wrote the first one (Internet) and kinda never got around to writing the rest because, well, it was half bragging and mostly boring. It’s something that could be easily written up in a sentence:
“Threaten to cancel.”
But it’s not as easy as that. You’ve got to do a little legwork first, and there is a little risk involved.
You’re threatening to cancel, right? Why? If you’re threatening to cancel your TV service, you can get away (nowadays) with “I’m cutting the cord”, but if you’re threatening to cancel your Internet, you’re probably threatening to go to another provider – if you say you’re going “off the grid”, they’re just going to assume you’re nuts and moving to Wyoming to make pipe bombs or something, so they’ll let you leave all nice-like. Do the research. Look for emails or promotions from competitors. If you have cable Internet, look at DSL. Cable television? Look at satellite. Continue reading Make it cheaper
I think I’ve always been cheap. My wife and I have joked that we’d be those rich people that everyone hates, still using coupons and shopping at Goodwill. This is just something that we’re used to, and it makes you feel better to not only save money, but to “get that bargain” and feel like – in the battle of consumer v. merchant – you’ve won a round. You know that you’re probably paying way more than you should for some things with markups and margins and all that, so any opportunity to “stick it to the man” gives you a little bit of a rush.
I mentioned coupons before, and food shopping is one of the easier places to “save money”, whether it be by using coupons, buying store brands, taking advantage of sales, buying in bulk, or various other methods of saving. If you’re lucky enough to live in a major residential area like I do, you have stores competing to get your business, which leads to big savings. Within a few miles from my house, we have three supermarket chains, a Target, and a Walmart, all competing for my dollar.
That’s all well and good, but what about utilities? Most utilities don’t have competition (how many electric companies do you have?) but some do, namely television, phone, and internet. Often, this unholy trinity of “luxury utilities” gets bundled together for “one low price”, but like any “bundle” or “combo”, you have to look carefully to see whether or not you’re really saving anything, or if it’s worth the hassle. Personally, I prefer to have everything separate; that way, if you have an issue with one service, you’re not obligated to stay just because that same company has your other services, and you don’t run the risk of breaking a contract (which generally any “bundle package” entails.)
So let’s attack these three one by one. Continue reading Battling for better bills – Part 1