Lower your bills like a gangsta

lil wayne saves money
I can’t think of anything more gangster than saving a little money.  Seriously, who doesn’t want to save a little green? I sure as heck do, and that’s why I make sure my money is working hard for me. My favorite way of doing this? Shopping around, or as Snoop Dog would call it “Shop  it like it’s hot”. All it takes is a few minutes on the phone.

That’s right, it’s time to get your butt on the phone and start calling your car insurance company,  cable/internet company , cell phone provider, credit card companies, etc and play some hardball. I do it every year, and I often walk away with a better deal than I had before. Here’s a real example of a conversation I had with a former cable provide…

Me: Hi, I’ve been pretty satisfied with my cable service over the last year, but have received a pretty enticing offer from one of your competitors.

Them: And what offer is that?

Me: Basically everything you guys offer me, plus a few extra movie channels.

Them: And how much is their service expected to cost?

Me: The same price as my current plan with you guys.

Them: Well  it looks like we can offer you six months of HBO and Showtime for free.

Me: Hellz Yeah! Sign me up.

Sure, the phone call didn’t save me any money, but it sure as heck made my existing service exponentially more awesome. I encourage you to do the same. Hop on the phone with a competing car insurance company and talk to them about your current plan. I guarantee the new company will do everything they can to provide you a lower payment and win your service. A few minutes on the phone could literally save you hundreds of dollars a year. I don’t know. Maybe I’m a freak, but I definitely get some kind of sick pleasure when trying to finagle a deal. I love negotiating!!!! Let me give you another example of what a phone conversation with a competing car insurance company could look like…

You: Hi, I’ve been paying $200 a month on car insurance for the last six months, and I’m kind of sick of it. How about lowering my bill to $30/month instead? And throw in a warm apple pie while you are it.

Them: Let me see here. Well, you’re in luck. It looks like you called right in time to take part in our newest promotional offer. I’m just gonna run a few numbers real quick.

You: Sounds great, but make it quick. Oprah’s about to start.

Them: Alright sir/madam, it looks we can drop your payment from $200/month to the $30/month as requested, but unfortunately we are all out of apple pie. Would you be okay with banana cream?

Alright, maybe the last example is slightly ridiculous, but so is being a lazy a$$ and not trying to get the best deal out there. Grab your phone and make a few calls. You won’t regret it.

Here’s a list of some of the services you should try and negotiate with…

Car Insurance: Call competitors. tell them your current plan coverage and price and ask if they can beat it. If they can’t, you know you got a good deal. If they can, you just saved yourself some dough.

Cable: Again call the local competitor to see what their current price plans and promotions are. If you don’t have luck with them call your current provider and ask if they have any specials running. Pretty often they can give you access to HBO or other premium channels for a few months.

Credit Card: This is one of my favorite things to do. A few times a year, I call good ol Bank of America and ask them for a credit line increase. About 50% of the time, I get it. Why ask for the increase? Assuming I don’t increase my spending habits, having a higher credit line should help my credit score. If you currently have CC debt, it doesn’t hurt to call and see if they will lower your interest. Not too sure if the banks will budge with all the craziness in the markets, but it’s worth a shot.

Cell Phone: Call current provider and notify them you are considering a switch (even if you aren’t) and ask if they have any plans or promotions that will keep you from jumping ship.

Apartment: If you are renting (on a short term lease) hop on craigslist and see if there is another apartment similar to yours for a cheaper. I’ve moved quite a few times because I found something as good (or better) than my current pad for hundreds less. Totally worth it if you don’t mind moving.

Your assignment today is to go save yourself some money. Does anyone else out there enjoy negotiating? Do you “make the rounds” and ensure you are getting the best bang for your buck? What other services allow you the freedom to shop around?

28 thoughts on “Lower your bills like a gangsta

  1. I did the same thing to my cable bill a couple weeks ago. I said my friend had everything I had and then some for the same price. What’s the deal? I also called up State Farm and asked them for an immaginary discount. It didn’t really work right away but they lowered my bill 15 bucks so I would stop calling them every month. I also stay pretty calm during the process so my friends have had me call for them and negotiate. My arch nemisis though is still AT&T.

  2. Funny list – I don’t pay for any of those things! Uhhh….. now what do I do? Call my hosting company? 😀

    Actually, looking at my budget right now, that’s about the only option. And I could totally be saving a dollar a month with their current advertised price.

  3. Bummer, I tried the cable thing last month and Time Warner called my bluff. We don’t have another cable provider in our area, just satellite TV. We actually had Direct TV before too and they still didn’t believe I’d switch. Then I wanted to switch out of the principal of it but my husband didn’t want more holes in our house. Oh well. This tactic may only last so long if you don’t have another cable option.

  4. We ditched our phone service and decided to bundle with our cable provider for the high speed internet/phone/High Def. Cable package… man, was our phone service provider screwing us over big time! We also now get free long distance in Continental US and Canada. And, I kid you not, I get a letter or card every month from our old phone service trying to woo us back… NO THANKS!!

    My cell phone is pay-as-you-go (I only use it for Emergencies and texting); I pay about $15/month. Our car insurance is quite inexpensive already. The one thing I will do is call my Credit Card to see what can be done with the interest rate, and I’m pretty confident to finnagle my way into ditching the annual fee. Lots of other CC companies out there would gladly take my transferred balance. If the first person I talk to can’t do it, I’ll ask for the supervisor.

  5. Yeah, I love doing this!
    I pay less for home and car ins, cell phone, and internet then when I moved into this hizzy 5 years ago. It also helps when a company screws something up- allows me to call and complain with justification. We live outside of chicago so I have multiple options for each service which also helps. Oh, it even worked on replacing our car when our engine died. We had a toyota, so I went to the toyota dealer during their whole brake failure hiatus- they were much more willing to lower the price on used car to make a few bucks during a bad month. Never hurts to call, well, unless they have that 3 hour hold hell with automated voice system… booo.

  6. I am saving money today by cancelling my satellite tv service. My wife and I don’t watch tv often and my kids will benefit by seeing less commercials. I am replacing it with Netflix which is much cheaper.

  7. I might’ve said this before but – Comcast has 3 levels of digital – basic, performance, and I-game-online-instead-of-getting-a-job. We had performance, but our 2 year offer expired & the price was shooting up. So after getting nowhere (I’m not a good Haggler Ninjar), we dropped to basic since it’s only $26/mo, versus $60/mo for performance. We said we’d give it a shot, and if it was too slow, we’d go back. You know what? We didn’t even notice the change so much so that we forgot we switched! We are average users – I telecommute, we watch tv shows, download mp3s.

    If hubby didn’t like sports I’d cancel the cable tv. ESPN should wake up, bypass cable, and put everything online for $10 or $20/mo. I’d go for that!

  8. i love getting great deals on services. the one i am most proud of was shopping cell phone providers and spreadsheeting everything out so i could get the cheapest plan for our needs. There was no negotiation involved in that but it opened my eyes to how cheap cell phone plans can get.

    my best negotiation was over my cable tv/internet. I was paying 75 for my basic (23 channels mostly local and regular broadcast) and 8 Mbps internet. I went to cancel the tv (25 by itself) but it only lowered the total bill to 62 since with the TV i was getting a “package” deal. So i decided to look around and found i could get fiber optic service to my house for 40. I called my current provider and asked them to save me the hassle of switching services and to lower my price to match the competitors. The lady I spoke with (and it took 3 tries to find someone willing to help) was able to find me a 33/month deal on the SAME internet service for one year. So in Feb I will have to call again and ask again otherwise ill be switching providers.

    In the long run though it costs the cable company virtually NOTHING to send a signal to my house, so it boils down to who wants my 35-40 bucks a month for internet cuz I am not spending more than that.

  9. This post was hilarious!

    I love negotiating too. I do it in my career a lot so of course it is a part of my financial lifestyle!

    Well I have to say the most extreme negotiations are for makeup and perfume at major department stores (Macy’s, Nordstrom, etc.). I’m a real girly girl but don’t want to pay an arm and leg for non-necessities. The key to this (for Wife Ninja of course…unless you’re into it :)) is to go to the department stores and pretty much tell them that you’ll buy x product/brand if they give you a large sample size of y product/brand.

    What many people don’t realize (I’ve worked at department stores so I know) is that department stores buy empty containers in various sizes and then when their “favorite/regular” customers come, they give them samples that are equivalent in size to the smallest size of the product. So for example, you can go in fall and buy your favorite perfume or makeup colors, then request a goodie bag of all the other scents/colors you want but don’t want to pay for.

    Now sure you’re spending money. But the good thing is that if you planned to buy anyway, you’ll get a whole season’s supply of goodies for the price you’d normally pay for 1 item.

  10. I don’t have cable, but I do have satellite radio in my car. They wanted $160 a year. I got on the phone and said “You know, for $160 a year I can get an iPod and just buy the songs I like. I only use about 10 of your stations most of the time.” After that I decided to let it drop and a month later I got a call offering me the same thing for about $90 a year. You have all the power if you are willing to walk away from the deal.

  11. This my friend is called social engineering!!!

    And why is your last example with the apartment different? Print the ad out and show it to your current landlord. A lot of times it will pay off for them to lower the rent so to keep you there then spend the money and time trying to find a new tenant.

    Social engineering rules!

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

  12. Jake– Do you live with the parents? How the heck do you have so few bills!?

    First Gen-That is a major bummer. I guess when there is no competing service you don’t have a lot of room for negotiations.

    Jeff-. You’re right. Lil wayne has been saving quite a bit of money. Not sure the circumstances are ideal though 🙂

    JT– Netflix is the way to go, I just recently switched and couldn’t be happeier!

    Twins Mama– I never knew you could negotiate in a department store!? See, those are the kind of secrets I need to know. I’m going to Nordies and gonna score some deals!

    Tom– It’s funny how stubborn companies can be. Esepcially, when they end up just running back to you in the first place. Lame.

    Jeremy– Didn’t know it had a term, but now I do. I’m gonna social engineer until the cows come home….or until everything I get is free….which ever comes first.

  13. I did this exact thing with Sirius – I got my yearly payment down to $77 (almost 50% off). For anyone that fails you should try again and ask for the retention department, and move up the ladder by saying “Can you put me through to someone who cares if I leave the company”

  14. Most cellphone companies offer a discount for government employees. For Verizon it’s 15 percent off.

  15. Ninja, I can 2nd Twins Mama’s helpful hint. As a former Cosmetician at the largest drugstore chain in Canada, my regulars would leave with a bounty of goodies when they spent some have-decent dollars in make-up/fragrance. Sometimes I might only be able to offer a plethora of various products’ samples sizes, but they were happy with pretty much anything I could muster up for ’em. Another helpful hint… best to go when the stores aren’t super-busy, and keep a look-out for GWP (gift with purchase) on the stuff you would normally buy. As soon as the Hallowe’en stuff’s packed away, the Christmas stuff (and all the extra goodies) come out in droves!

  16. Great tips.
    As a general rule before I renew anything that I pay annually I call around and ask for new quotes. Just because someone WAS the cheapest doesn’t mean they ARE the cheapest. I think doing just this one action could save people hundreds.

  17. Great tips Ninja! Always helps to ask.

    Question on credit limit increase, specifically if they are not willing to increase – do they first do a credit pull and then deny a limit increase or is it before?

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