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How to Save Money Every Month with Negotiation

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Saving Money Every Month!Trying to find a way to save money every month is a lot like playing Whack a Mole. In April you might save some money by brown bagging your lunch to work. In May you might try some hypermiling driving tips, like easing up on the brakes or driving closer to the speed limit. By June, you’ll probably have stopped brown bagging lunch as often but you’ll try going out to bars less after work. It’s hard keeping everything straight, especially if you haven’t made it a habit.

That’s why the key to saving money every month is to reduce your overall “financial load.” That is, cut or reduce your fixed monthly expenses.
When was the last time you thought about paying your cell phone bill or your cable bill? You probably don’t spend much time thinking about it or, if you’re like me, it’s automatically charged to your credit card or debited from your bank account. If you find a way to cut your costs, you never have to think about it. You’re saving money, every month, without doing anything different. If you are looking to save money every month, that’s the first place you should look.

Here are a few places you might take a look at:

  • Home Landline Phone: If you have a home landline phone and a cell phone, consider cutting your landline. I can think of two important reasons why you might want to keep it – it’s tied into your security alarm system or you need it for your children’s safety and security (it’s easier to dial 911 on a landline than a cell phone). If neither of those apply and you can’t think of a reason to keep it, cut it.
  • Cell Phone: Are you on a contract? If so, skip to the next one. If not, try to negotiate a lower rate. You might even want to consider prepaid cell phones, sometimes a la carte pricing is cheaper.
  • Cable Television: How often do you watch TV? Maybe cable television is something you can remove, or at least reduce, from your monthly fixed bills. You can replace cable television with many other services, some of which are cheaper (or even free.)
  • Insurance: Insurance companies are fighting for your business, if you haven’t shopped around in the last year, shop around. Actuarial tables change and you might find a cheaper policy elsewhere. You are not contractually obligated to stay with your current insurance provider for the period of your policy. If you do shop around, do a little background research on the insurance company first, you want to make sure you can collect on a claim if you need to!
  • Subscriptions: How many magazines or newspapers do you receive on a regular basis? Do you read them often enough to justify the expense? Many of them are available in their entirety online (I just learned that the entire Real Simple magazine is available online) and unless you can justify getting the dead tree version, don’t renew.

Next, check your credit card statements for anything that might look like a recurring charge. Maybe you signed up for a trial that you canceled, but the company never canceled the charges. Maybe you signed up for a service and cut it, only to find the business continued to bill you. You should be checking your statements anyway but do it again with this aim in mind.

Once you’ve looked at your fixed costs, it’s time to move towards the variable costs each month. Costs associated with your food, like trips to restaurants and the grocery store, or costs maintaining your car or home. For suggestions on what to try, I want to point you to an article I wrote a couple years ago – 100 Money Saving Tips. That list, which does include some fixed costs to trim, should keep you busy enough with moles to whack. :)

(Photo: amagill)

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23 Responses to “How to Save Money Every Month with Negotiation”

  1. Glenn Lasher says:

    If you don’t feel you can cut your landline completely, you might consider switching to a Voice over IP provider. There are many of them out there.

    Personally, I am a satisfied customer of Ooma. There is a large startup costs (about $200-250 for the device), but once you have bought it, service itself is free (unless you want the options package, which is $10/month). The only asterisk I am aware of is that you need to pay an annual FCC tax of $12.

    If you consider that to be a 5-year investment, the high-end price of the device, plus NY sales tax, comes to $270, plus you will pay $12 for four of the five years (the first is rolled into the price of the device, as is the service), totalling $318 for five years service. That averages out to $5.30/month.

    Of course, you have to have and intend to keep broadband internet service for it to work, but if you were going to do that anyway, then this is *cheap* telephone service.

    …and no, I don’t work for them. I am, as I said, a satisfied customer, as I wrote in my blog here: http://www.allappropriatetech.com/content/2010/03/12/ooma.html

    • Anthony says:

      I considered this at one point in time. But, I decided to stick with my non-digital landline phone, strictly to be used for emergencies. It costs me $5/month when bundled together with cable and Internet.

      The issue I have with digital phone service or VoIP is that it requires power/electricity/an IP connection, which all may go down during an emergency situation (hurricanes are a big concern here).

  2. billsnider says:

    The key to this is like running a business. you have to spend time looking for ways to cut costs.

    We once got a new CEO. I was amazed at the number of ways he cut costs. We as a company never felt the effects. It did make a wopping differance to our bottom line.

    Just when I thought he couldn’t get another dime out of costs, he shocked me with more ideas. So, question, question, question all your costs and don’t assume anything.

    Bill Snider

  3. Shirley says:

    Well goodness… my moles are all whacked (including the 101 tips) except for these:

    Go cash only: My CC rewards give me cash back.
    Scour the Black Friday deals: Only those online!!
    Clean out your refrigerator coils: Aieee… I need to do that.
    Landline is definitely necessary for us.
    Stop playing the lottery: Hubby might go into withdrawals if he didn’t get his two picks per week. :-)

    Now I’m feeling pretty darned good!

  4. Keith Morris says:

    Another one that comes to mind, related to cell phones, is text messaging. My wife and I were each paying $20/mo for unlimited texts. We saved some money by combining our cell phone plans into a family plan, but we’re still paying $30/mo combined for those texts. There are a few alternatives available these days. For example, on the iPhone, there’s an app called Textie that allows you to send and receive text messages for free.

    • Ryan says:

      if you have blackberry, the messenger service is free on there. of course it only works with others who have blackberry.

  5. zapeta says:

    I think the best way to save each month is not always to focus on expenses, but to automate the whole process. The money we save each month just disappears automatically on pay day and we never miss it. Most of our household expenses are minimized so automating our saving makes sure we save and not spend.

  6. Kate says:

    I use to subscribe to numerous magazines – onlyu $12 a year! Not only did all of these subscriptions add up, my place was cluttered with all of these magazines because I never had time to read them.

    I have also decided against having a home phone. Cable is something I would like to cut down on, but I love watching TV.

    Thanks for all of the tips!

    • Ryan says:

      hulu.com is free. and if you dvr shows anyways, hulu definitely makes sense. we dropped cable for netflix and hulu. saving ~$35 a month.

      • Jim says:

        I’m watching something on Hulu right this second (the latest episode of Flash Forward), great service…

        • Ryan says:

          Speaking of Flash Forward, who ever did casting for that show should be fired. Could have been a really good series, but the acting is terrible.

          end rant.

      • cubiclegeoff says:

        We dropped cable over a year ago, and over the past 6 months have used Hulu with Playon and Netflix. We can see almost everything we want this way, and usually what we don’t see, we don’t miss.

    • ziglet19 says:

      We cut out cable about 2 years ago. I do miss it some, but we still get the networks off of an antenna, and I do watch some shows off the internet. It saves us about $50 a month, so it’s worth it to us. Plus, I’ve found I spend a lot less time watching TV, because with cable, I always found something that I could watch to pass the time.

  7. cdiver says:

    Ahh Cable. When no other mindless activity will sufice.

  8. Fred says:

    Another great way to save money is switching to Net10. It’s only 10 cents a minute for nationwide coverage.

  9. elloo says:

    I was watching way too much TV. So I gave my set away using Craigslist and now save $73/month by letting go of my cable tv service. I don’t miss it at all. I also stopped buying the New York Times paper edition and see it online for free. Saves me $1.75/day where I live. The Chase Freedom credit card used to have a sweet cash back deal, but will be converting to a point system as of 6/2. Not as generous, but since I only use that card like I do for just about everything, I can still get back about $20/month. The deal is even better if you are a Chase Bank checking account customer.

  10. ziglet19 says:

    We’ve also been without a landline for at least 5 years, and don’t miss it a bit.

  11. BradPK says:

    There are actually many ways to save money every month. One of the areas where every one can save money considerably is electricity. Only by replacing our normal lights with CFL bulbs can help you to cut around 20-30% energy consumption. Besides, many people buy insurance coverage much more than required. If they can effectively cut it down, they save more every month. Great post, we need more of such themes.

  12. jsbrendog says:

    i have a landline and it is completely worthless but having it makes my overall bill cheaper since io lured me away from verizon with an insane deal

  13. Squirrelers says:

    One area where money can be saved is energy. I recommend buying energy-efficient appliances and equipment as you make your future purchases. Along those lines, taking a smart approach to actual energy usage can help. By that I mean things that are off but plugged in, fully charged, etc. For example, keeping your computer on all night, cell phone charger plugged in (when phone already charged), etc. These are all areas where one can save money. Keep important things plugged in, but don’t keep things plugged in or on just for the sake of pure convenience.

  14. Master Allan says:

    I cut my communications bills significantly.

    Although now living without a landline and cell phone only, years ago a phone service was required for DSL. I found out that SWBell in Dallas had an unpublished option for measured service. $6/month for 25 phone calls, +0.08 cents a call after that. I never used the phone and did not desire paying $25/month. This actually worked with my DSL modem perfectly!

    I also have a pay as you go cell phone. The minutes are more expensive when purchased compared to a plan so I hold off on purchasing. I use my office phone during the weekdays and for longer conversations at home,skype. While mom is jabbering away for an hour at no cost to me, I’m simultaneously updating my budget tracking spreadsheet at the computer. I know this would not work for most everyone but for some single frugals it is possible.

  15. eric says:

    Good tips. I’m amazed at how many of my friends pay recurring subscriptions to random things they never use or get any benefit out of. Inertia is a powerful thing.

  16. Kimberly says:

    When I moved out on my own, I first starting trying to cut bills I didn’t need – my cellphone bill was the first. I was paying more than $110 a month and I couldn’t keep it – I switched to Net10 prepaid and the savings are totally helping me. I’ve able to cut my bill down to $35 a month and I haven’t lost anything in terms of calling network or quality. I’m on the TMobile network now and I can switch phones whenever I like – no contract worries here. If you can live without a landline, a dependable company like Net10 is a great idea.


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