5 phone calls that can save you money

Don't Waste Your Money

For most families, monthly bills have been increasing at an alarming rate lately. From insurance costs to those cell phone bills, we're paying more and more.

But there are some ways to reduce those monthly bills without pulling the plug: simply by making some calls.

Up,Up, and Away
Are your monthly bills killing you? Credit cards, phone, cable, insurance, all add up.

It leaves Christine Sohngen shaking her head, saying "they are out of control, it's ridiculous."

Hugh Schissler says his phone bills are skyrocketing, saying "it seems like it's $135 or more per month. I'd like it to be less than 100 if i could get there."

But the good news is you can reduce some of those bills, with 5 easy calls that can save you money.

What to Ask For

Andrea Deckard is a coupon blogger who offers other moms money saving tips at SavingsLifetsyle.com.

But on this day she decided to help herself, because she said her bills are too high. "The entire bill we pay the cable company every month is $150," she said.

Her latest cable and internet bill was $147, and Andrea decided it was time to take action. So she called the cable company and started to negotiate.

After wading through the voice mail phone tree to a live agent, Andrea said "I was calling to see if there's anything I could do to reduce my monthly bill?"

She noticed right away she was paying for services she never used. She said "we really don't need free on demand, because that just entices us to spend that money and buy more movies."

She also found her cable phone redundant, as she still has a basic land line and spends most of her time on her cell phone.  She wanted to know if dropping cable phone would save any money.

5 Calls to Make

1. Andrea says your first call to save money should be to the cable or satellite company, as she did.

Find what cheaper packages they may have, and ask if you have any extra services you don't need.

2. Andrea says then call your land line phone company: Do you really need call waiting anymore? Do you really need that long distance package, if you get free long distance on your cell phone?

Consider downgrading to a very basic package.  If you are willing to pay 15 cents for each local call you make, you may be able to get a stripped down, unadvertised plan for just $15 a month.

3. Call your cell phone provider:  If you're not using all your minutes or texts, consider reducing the amount you pay for.

And if you have multiple phones, ask what the best "family plan" deal they have is.  There's a good chance you are not on it.

4.  Call your insurance agent:  Make sure your home and cars are bundled. Ask if you are getting all the discounts you qualify for. And consider boosting your deductible from $250 to $500, for instance, to lower your rates.

5.  Call your Visa or MasterCard credit card provider, and say you may drop the card if they can't offer you a lower rate. Chances are those rates went up to 25% while you weren't looking, and you may be able to negotiate them down.  But don't try this with a store card, such as a a Macy's card: store card APR's are typically not negotiable.

Worth a Try

Andrea's working on all of those for her family. "Do this with your bills, your insurance, whatever.  Call around and see what better rates you can get."

Not everyone was willing to cut Andrea a break.   And she wasn't willing to slow down her Internet speed to get a lower rate. But with just one call, she was able to cut her $147 a month cable bill to $102, by eliminating features she didn't need.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are embarrassed to call and ask for a better deal.    We don't want to rock the boat.

But remember, you're not asking your mom for money, but a faceless phone rep. All you have to lose is a half hour of your time.

So give it a try, so you don't waste your money.

Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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