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Friday, January 15, 2010

Frugal Friday: Reducing Household Bills

Did you realize that you can often get a better rate on many of your household bills just by asking? Most companies offer an introductory rate or specials for new customers, but also have offers to entice current customers to stay with them if they are considering leaving.

One example is the phone company. When we first moved to this house four years ago I was able to sign up for a landline phone and internet for a decent price through a new customer special. That special was set to expire one year after activation and the price was to rise dramatically. I called before the price was set to go up and went through the cancellation department (speaking to the regular reps usually does not get you a good deal, you need to go as far as the cancellation department). I told them I was considering switching to another phone company because of the price and they gave me another special set for another year. I have continued this each year, calling to cancel unless they can give me another good deal, and I would cancel if the deal wasn't good enough as there are other specials in the area. Each year they are able to set me up with a nice package for my phone and internet, just to keep me as a customer. Right now for a landline phone which includes 60 free long distance minutes a month, caller id, call waiting and DSL internet I am paying just $45 a month. It has been the best deal that I have been able to find so far and is actually far cheaper than the first deal that I got four years ago which was costing us around $60, so I have been able to get them down in price!

Newspapers are another area in which you can save. Most newspapers want as many customers as they can so will offer tremendous savings if you just ask. I am only interested in the Sunday papers and mainly for the reason that they include coupons. The cost for a Sunday newspaper around here is typically $2 but I usually am able to talk the newspaper company into Sunday delivery for $1 a week. So that is a $1 a week savings.

Cable bills can usually be reduced by using the same strategy as the phone one above. By considering switching cable companies your current cable provider will usually reduce your rate to keep you as a customer. I haven't been able to test this because we don't have cable but I have heard from several people that their bills are lowered this way. When your contract is about to expire is the perfect time to get another special.

Cell Phones. We use a pay as you go service so pay just $25 every three months for a cell phone. We basically only use it to carry with us in the car in case of an emergency or for a quick trip to the store in case we have a question. My husband takes it to work with him in case I need to get a hold of him and also uses it in place of a watch. We just don't want to be tied down to a contract and don't use it enough to warrant a monthly charge. But I imagine you can save on even a regular cell phone by either dropping some special features, reducing your minutes, or asking for a special rate.

Doctor, Dentist, Eye Doctor, Car Repair bills. Often times if you pay at the time of service you get a discount, usually of around 5%. Ask to see if this is true, as you can save a lot just by paying in full at that appointment.

Remember, it never hurts to ask and the worst thing they can do is say no. If you haven't tried doing this yet, try to see if you can get one household bill reduced. You can save up to several hundred dollars a year with just a few minutes on the phone.


  1. About a year ago, our introductory rate on cable internet (about $25) was due to expire. It would go up to almost $60 a month because we no longer were subscribed to the cable TV service. I called to cancel, and was told there was another option; a slightly slower high speed internet for $19.95 a month which they could give me for 6 months. I subscribed to this service, and just before the 6 months was up, again called to cancel. They offered me another year at the price of $34.95 a month instead of 64.95 (the current rate). When this year is up, I intend to call and "cancel" again.

  2. I have a beef with the trash company...we pay every three months (in advance)....every bill that we get is higher than the last. What I'm going to do is discontinue the service the next time we get a bill and simply utilize the dumpster at my DH's work that he has to pay for anyway...jeez...companies just want to turn the screws on the little guy..

  3. Greetings!
    New to your site ~ just love all the wonderful ideas and suggestions for a nicer life in balance!

    Garbage Service:
    You can also ask a neighbor to share the garbage bill. One of you has the garbage out but both of you contribute to the can and then both split the bill.

    We also found with our very expensive water bill that it helps cut the bill if we:

    1) put bricks carefully! in the tank,
    2) add a dash of cheap white vinegar to urine and don't flush each time, the vinegar keeps the
    room smelling fresh, and makes the toilet bowl easy to clean!
    3) if you shower daily, urinate in the shower, (I saw this idea animated online).
    Over a year thats 365 flushes at 3 gallons of h20 = 1100 gallons saved for each family
    We must be savvy in our daily life or we are just greasing the wheels of big business as they
    never give us a rebate for using their multimillion dollar co. instead they raise their prices each year!

    A change is gonna come though - - as it can only get so high and then it will tumble down!

    Always maintain only a joyful mind - - Pema Chodrun a wise compassionate , funny, wonderful
    Em Zen Nun and author!



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