Just Ask

Periodically I review our cell phone bill and communications bill (internet, phone, satellite) to see if we can save any money on either of them.  I have found that many times a 10 minute phone call can result in monthly savings. 

Just today I called CenturyLink (our telephone service provider) and was able to save $10.00 a month on our internet cost – that’s $120.00 a year!  It took me less than 10 minutes and it did not involve screaming or threats of bodily injury.  All I did was ask.  I told the customer service representative that I was reviewing my monthly bills and calling to see if there were any areas I could reduce costs. 

When I make a call like this I have a plan.  I ask them first if there is anything that can help me save money but I do a bit of research so that I know what my current account situation is.  In this case I wanted to see about a reduced price on DSL service without a reduction in speed and if there were any options for reducing our long distance package price.  Without even asking about the internet she automatically said she could reduce my price $10.00 a month.  She also advised me of a different long distance billing option.  Currently we pay $15.00 per month for unlimited long distance.  The other alternative is 10-cents per minute with no monthly charge.  Not knowing off-hand what our average monthly long distance minutes were I asked if I could call back and still get that option.  She said yes and after we hung up I was able to research that option by reviewing past bills. 

So in about 10 minutes I was able to reduce our yearly communications bill by $120.00.  In another 10 minutes I was able to determine the $15.00 per month rate was our best option.  I went back through our bills and found in the past 6 months we used on average 350 minutes of long distance.  At  10-cents per minute that would have been an average of $35.00 per month.  I will discuss with my husband the option of going to the 10-cent per minute plan if we can commit to using our cell phones for long distance calls.  Until then we’ll stick with the $15.00 per month plan.

One point I want to make is that I did not have my last six months of bills lying around.  I rarely keep any paper invoices any more.  If the provider offers online access to past invoices I do not keep the bills.  In this case CenturyLink has 12 months worth of invoices, with detail, available on-line.  I simply logged in and got the data I needed.  They even have an option to download to Excel so I could quickly sum and average without even using a calculator! (Time saver!)  No sense in cluttering things up with paper when it can be retrieved electronically.

Here are some ideas of providers you can call and just ask about available savings:

Phone Company

  • Ask about bundled packages.  CenturyLink offers a discount if you bundle your local, long distance, internet and satellite or a combination of those.  We save $34.05 per month ($408.60 a year) by bundling. 
  •  Check your long distance rates – is there a better plan for your usage? Can you use your cell phone to make a majority of your long distance calls (provided you have unlimited minutes or a high enough minute limit to not be charged)
  •  Check your local service options – if you don’t all the calling features perhaps there is a cheaper plan. 

Propane/Heating Oil Company

  • Ask about fixed or capped price plans.  Many companies offer plans to hold your price for the heating season.  A capped (sometimes called maximum) price will allow you to enjoy the current market price but shield you from increases if the prices go up above your maximum allowed price.  A fixed price will hold your price the same all season long.  Be sure to ask about fees associated with these programs and figure out if the fee is worth the savings. Also ask if there is a gallons limit. 
  • Budget plans – while they do not actually save you money they do make your budgeting easier.  Current oil/propane prices in our area mean a fill up could cost between $400.00-500.00.  That is quite a bit to shell out at one time.  A budget plan allows you to spread out your costs over several months.    

 Natural Gas

  • In some areas you have a choice of supplier – you do not have to buy your gas from the utility.  This makes the natural gas market more competitive and offers you a potentially lower rate.  Many companies who sell natural gas offer prices that are good for a year. 

 Cell Phone Carrier

  • Are you paying insurance on your cell phone? For some folks, my husband is one of them, insurance is necessary. He goes through at least one phone every year.  They either end up lost or at the bottom of a creek somewhere.  For others, depending on the age of your phone and the cost of the insurance it may be worth dropping coverage. 
  • Is your plan the right size for you?  If your calling habits have changed since you first signed up for your cell plan you may be able to get a lower minute plan.  Be sure to do your research to avoid getting hit with per minute charges if you go over. 

 

I encourage you to take a moment the next time you pay your bills and make a call or two.  Post your results below! If you find another area where you could “just ask”? please share! 

 

Until Next Time, Be Blessed,

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