My least favorite thing is spending money on stuff I have to buy – like utilities, car insurance and internet. I mean, I love having running water, electricity and mildly fast internet, but I hate paying for it. I’d rather use the money for a vacation or trip to Sephora.
Because I hate paying for the essentials, I do everything I can to save money on them. Sometimes that means dropping unessential coverage or finding a better company, but sometimes you just have to negotiate.
How to Save Money on Bills
Recently, I met a representative from BillShark, a company that promises to save you money on your internet, cell phone or cable bill. You give them your account information and they call the company to negotiate on your behalf.
It was perfect timing. Recently, the 12-month promo period ended on our internet and our monthly bill jumped from $54 to $89 – that’s a 64% increase!
I was livid and tried to negotiate with the company via their online chat, but they said they couldn’t do anything for me. I knew if I called, I’d eventually reach the person who was in charge of customer retention. Usually, you have to threaten to cancel your service in order to talk to someone who can give you a lower rate.
The thing is, it’s such a hassle to call and ask for a better rate. You have to spend time on hold and getting transferred between different departments. Now that I’m self-employed, my time is really valuable. If I spend an hour on the phone with the internet company, that’s an hour I can’t do work I’m getting paid for.
So I decided to test out BillShark, which only charges you if they’re able to save you money. You pay them 40% of the amount they save. If that sounds like a lot, it is. If they save you $300, you’ll owe them $120 (they do offer payment plans so you don’t have to pay the amount all at once).
It only took BillShark a couple days to contact me with the results of their negotiation – they were able to get me back down to $52 a month, which is slightly less than I was paying for. I really liked how it only took five minutes to sign up for BillShark and I didn’t have to do anything else to save money. Plus, my service didn’t change at all and I didn’t have to sign up for another contract.
Is BillShark Worth It?
Now the important question: is it worth spending money on a service like BillShark to save money in the end? There’s only way to answer it: it’s worth it if you don’t want to call and negotiate yourself.
Growing up, my mom would ALWAYS call and get a lower rate. She was a fanatic about it. She was polite and relentless and never got off the phone until she got what she wanted.
But, it would take her a long time on the phone (between 30 minutes to an hour) and that’s what I’ve often found. Yes, you can do it yourself, but it can take a long time. If you’re working from home or are too busy during the work-day to call, then maybe it’s better to have someone do it for you.
There are other services like BillShark that have similar business models. They call and save you money and charge a portion of what they’ve gotten back. BillFixer is another competitor, but they charge 50% of what they save.
If you’re not afraid of calling your Comcast rep to ask for a lower rate, by all means go ahead and do it yourself. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. But if you know that you’re never going to call Verizon to lower your cell phone bill, then a service like BillShark could be perfect.
Call Your Insurance Agent
Since we’ve moved to Colorado, I’ve had to transfer my car insurance. I’ve never questioned my auto policy. I’ve always had a good rate ($130 for two cars and one renter’s policy) and carried every discount available. But I started to wonder if there was something else I could do.
I called my insurance agent to discuss what he thought I should. I know agents make money when you buy more coverage, but I figured if I pressed him, he’d have to give me the numbers.
He told me that because one of my cars was so old, I’d end up paying more in comprehensive and collision coverage than I’d get if the car were totaled. The amount I’d save? $45 a month or more than $500 a year. That’s all I needed to hear. I thanked him for the information and told him to go ahead and cancel that coverage.
The next step is to plan what you’re going to do with the money you saved. It’s so easy to forget to allocate that savings toward paying off your debt or putting toward your retirement account. Money is like the clutter that fills up your house. If you don’t give it a home, it won’t know where to go.
Even when I talk to potential clients, I try to negotiate. It doesn’t have to be confrontational. Something as simple as, “Is there any flexibility on that?” is enough. I joke with my husband that it’s the most expensive sentence. Always negotiate – whether it’s your salary or your hospital bill. The worst thing they can do is say no, and the best thing is that you’ll save money – tons of it.
Research Other Options
If you’ve been with the same internet, utility or cell phone provider for a while, it’s probably time to shop around. Make a list of their top competitors and give them a call to see what their rates are. Yes, this will take some time out of your day, but it could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Check out my post on saving money on your cell phone bill with Republic Wireless, where I pay less than $30 a month!
I also like to call my current provider and ask them about any discounts I might be eligible for. Again, you never know what you’ll get until you ask. Lowering your monthly bills gives you more money to put toward your student loans, your emergency fund or even that trip to Paris you’ve been wanting.
Plus, saving money on your cell phone bill doesn’t affect you the same way as spending less on eating out does. You could be paying less money for the same coverage, but you won’t know until you call.
Every year, set aside time to go over what you’re spending money on. Even if you maintain a budget, it’s easy to forget to investigate your bills. Maybe the water meter isn’t working properly, maybe you’re getting double billed for trash removal. If you make this an annual appointment, you’ll find yourself saving money in no time.