Are you overwhelmed by bills? Nobody wants to pay them, yet they come every month. Bills can put a real strain on a household’s finances.
In fact, one study by doxoINSIGHTS found that in the 25 largest metro areas in the United States, the average American household pays $984 per month, or 17% of their household income, on nine common bills.
That total doesn’t include housing expenses such as rent or mortgage, but it does cover the average costs for expenses such as utilities, health insurance, mobile phone, cable and internet.
But here’s the good news: You may not have to pay so much. There are ways to lower your rates on some of those regular expenses—from cell phone bills to your credit card fees. Here’s how.
Flip on the TV, and you’ll see the ads from cell phone providers. “Switch to us and we’ll buy out your current contract.” “Let us cover your fees.”
You may have just re-upped for another two-year contract with your current provider, but other companies are more than happy to extend a better deal to you if you’re looking for a change.
When it comes to cell phones, you can use the competition among the many providers to your advantage. If you want to lower your bill, gather offers from other companies and call your current one to let them know that if they can’t match the best rate elsewhere, you’ll simply switch to another carrier.
NerdWallet offers some other options too, including opting for autopay, changing your cell phone insurance and forgoing a phone upgrade.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by bills, it’s likely that your cable bill is one of the culprits. Just like those cell phone bills, if there are multiple cable providers in your region, you may be able to talk them down to a lower rate as well. After all, it’s cheaper to keep you as a customer than to have to find and retain another one when you leave.
According to U.S. News & World Report, if you don’t get a better deal on the first attempt, it might be best to call again—and again. Some customer service representatives may be more inclined to help you out than others.
While it may seem like a shot in the dark, many of those who do attempt to talk their way into a lower bill are successful. According to a survey from Consumer Reports, 70% of respondents said they had haggled with the cable company, and 80% of those consumers were able to get some perks, such as an extended promotional rate, price cuts and additional premium TV channels. It’s worth a shot.
Internet service providers also may lower your rate, according to BroadBandNow.com, if you’re willing to spend some time on the phone—as much as an hour or so—to do it.
The website recommends that when you call, you should be ready to cancel your service in order to persuade them to offer you a better deal. It also recommends that you be “ridiculously polite” while you do it. Internet service providers may be more inclined to cut your rate if you have a history of paying your bills on time and are close to the end of your contract, the article says.
In all seriousness, you just need to ask. A survey by CreditCards.com found that few cardholders call their credit card company to seek a lower credit card rate or have a fee waived. But, when they do, they often get what they ask for.
The survey found that 84% of cardholders who asked had a late fee waived, 70% got an annual fee waived or lowered and 56% got a lower interest rate. Credit card companies likely will consider your spending and payment habits before they agree to cut you a deal, according to the website.
Haggling, once a time-honored tradition, might not be as common today. But, when it comes to your cell phone, cable and internet bills and your credit card rates and fees, you may just be able to negotiate a discount with your provider. You don’t have to be overwhelmed by bills. You can make those monthly expenses a bit more affordable.
The CESI Team is committed to helping you reach your financial goals. If debt keeps you from living the life you dream of, contact us for a free debt analysis today and get started on the road to a brighter future!
Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.
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