In this time of uncertainty, lowering your bills at home becomes nothing less than a matter of survival. While some companies have options to postpone payments, in the end, this doesn’t get you ahead. You’ll be further behind once the COVID-19 situation has passed, and you’ll be playing catch-up for months or even years.
A much more sustainable way to reduce your bills at home is by looking into these five negotiable services. Everything from cell phone service to internet and even credit cards can be negotiated. You might find that you’ve been paying too much for one or more services all along!
1. Internet Costs
An internet connection is an important utility in today’s world. Without one, you’d be stuck in social isolation without any way to reach loved ones, acquire news, or even order necessary products/services. The bottom line? You need an internet connection, but you don’t have to pay a fortune for it.
Most people assume that the price you see is what you get, but the fact is, many ISPs have several packages available; they just don’t always tell you about the more affordable ones. ISPs are businesses, and their aim is to make money, so they’ll almost always try to get you into a more expensive service package first.
You can call your ISP or go on their website to find a different service package. If you don’t need a 400MB/s download speed, you can have it reduced to save some money on your bill. If you’re looking for a new ISP, an internet advisor service might be able to help.
2. Electricity Costs
In most cases, your electricity is provided by a company that manages billing, equipment, and service, but your actual electricity is provided by a secondary company. How your electricity is provided usually determines the rate you’ll pay for it. For example, if your electricity comes from hydropower, you might have a much cheaper rate than someone whose service comes from burning coal.
You should have the option to change providers on your bill. You can even switch to green energy in some cases! Check with your state and your electric provider to see what options are available. You might need to do some extra research to find the best option, but the bottom line is that you can lower your electric costs.
3. Auto Insurance
Auto insurance is a complex and necessary service for anyone who drives a vehicle. There are only two states in the country that don’t require auto insurance as a prerequisite to drive a vehicle. Sure, you’ll save money by not having a monthly or semi-annual premium to pay, but in the long run, one critical accident could wipe out any money you’ve saved.
If you’re in a state that requires car insurance, there are plenty of ways to get a better rate. The first and most obvious is choosing another provider. Short of completely switching your insurance provider, you can call in and see what kinds of discounts your current provider has to offer.
Many providers have good student discounts, responsible driver discounts, or even better rates for people who have been with them for a certain number of years. If you don’t ask about these discounts, you can’t take advantage of them.
You can also minimize your coverage to save money. Understand that the less coverage you have, the most responsible you’ll be for paying for any damages you cause (or incur) due to an accident. Some drivers choose only liability insurance, which is usually the bare minimum requirement to drive in most states.
4. Cell Phones
Most people have a cell phone these days, and with that phone comes a service plan. Service plans can be as cheap as $20/month and as expensive as hundreds per month depending on the number of lines, data plan, and more. There’s usually a cheaper plan available, though.
The problem most people run into is signing a contract for a number of years so they can also finance the newest phones. If you can live without the newest iPhone, you can choose a month-to-month plan and buy a cheap phone outright. Sure, you won’t have the flashiest phone out there, but you’ll be connected and you’ll save money in the long run. You also won’t be tied to a contract and unable to leave without paying a termination fee.
5. Credit Cards
There are credit card companies that will work with you on interest rates, monthly payments, and even outstanding balances. Many people assume that credit card companies are vicious sharks that don’t care at all about your financial situation, but the fact is, they’re more willing to work with you than you think.
If your credit score has recently improved, you might be able to negotiate a better interest rate. If you’ve fallen on hard times, there’s a possibility you can get lower monthly payments. At the end of the day, the decision lies with your credit card provider, but it doesn’t hurt to ask!