Threatening to Cancel These Services Can Result in Serious Savings

watching TV
Drive up some healthy competition. | iStock/Getty Images

When you want to save money, odds are you start shopping more selectively. You head to cheaper stores or beeline for the clearance rack. Perhaps you’ve given up going out altogether and instead look for freebies and close-out deals on the internet. These are common strategies when you’re trying to make the most of your paycheck. But there are other things you can do that most of us overlook.
You likely get a stack of bills every month. We all do. And most of us just wince, pay them, and move on. But those bills offer up opportunities to save money. Sure, you’re still going to be paying for basic goods and services like everyone else, but you don’t necessarily need to sit back and let Comcast or your landlord win.
You can take the fight directly to these companies, your landlord, or anyone else you’re paying monthly. All it takes is the willingness to engage in a little back and forth — you know, haggling. Of course, most of us don’t like to rock the boat. It’s much easier to pay the bill and be done with it than to sit on the phone and argue with someone about your monthly payment. But if you’re serious about finding new ways to save money, making a stink — and threatening to cancel, in most cases — can have an effect.
When it comes to these services, threatening to cancel and leave for a competitor can usually save you some money.

1. Cable and internet

  • If you live in an area with more than one provider, start a bidding war for your monthly check.

The average cable TV bill is now more than $100 per month. While a lot of people are simply giving up on cable, we all still need internet service. Unfortunately, the two usually go hand in hand, especially when you’re talking about companies, such as Comcast, Cox, or Time Warner Cable. Call them up, and see what you can do to cut down that bill. Play the providers off of each other, and threaten to leave for a competitor until they cede ground. Comcast, especially, will employ all kinds of tricks. Remain steadfast, and you’ll save yourself some cash.
Next: Cable and internet bills are just the start. You’ll want to add your insurance provider to your list, too.

2. Car insurance

Auto accident involving two cars
Your cost depends on your location. | RobertCrum/iStock/Getty Images
  • Auto insurance rates are the absolute highest in Detroit.

When an insurer calculates how much you’re paying for car insurance, there are many variables at play. Where you live, your driving record, and the type of vehicle you own are all in the mix. But just like your cable and internet bill, there’s some wiggle room. Call your agent or insurance company, and see what they can do to bring your costs down. Most insurers offer discounts of varying types, and you might be overlooking opportunities to save money. Again, you’ll have to make the first move.
Next: Employ the same strategy when it comes to dealing with your bank or credit union.

3. Banking fees

Bank of America ATMs
Avoid all the extra fees. | snyferok/iStock/Getty Images

Bank fees will chew you up. If you’re still using one of the big banks, then you should really consider switching. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Chase are all hitting customers with more fees than ever, and you can easily dodge all of them by going with a competitor (usually a credit union). Shop around for a new bank — it’s as simple as that. If your bank is still hitting you with a $5 charge for accessing your own money from a machine it’s time to move on. Or at least call it, and negotiate a better deal.
Next: Another potential source of savings? Cutting down on subscriptions or renegotiating your monthly payment.

4. Magazine and newspaper subscriptions

The Seattle Times
Newspapers need subscribers. | Dan Levine/AFP/Getty Images
  • Newspapers and magazines are getting increasingly desperate for subscribers. That’s good news for you.

A lot of people have given up on physical magazines and newspapers in the digital age. But they can still be nice to have around, especially if you want to help support the industry. That doesn’t mean you should be paying the cover price or anything close to it. Take a look at how much you’re spending, and get in touch with customer service. If you threaten to cancel, odds are they’ll cede a lot of ground to get you to stay. You might even end up with a few months free.
Next: You might read magazine and newspaper articles on your phone. That, too, is another opportunity to save money.

5. Cell service

A woman uses her cellphone while walking down the street
They’re all fighting for the same customers. | Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Just like with your cable or internet provider, your cellphone service provider should be engaged in an attempt to save money. Although you might be locked into a contract, putting up a stink can typically get you somewhere. If not, you can always go talk to competing companies, though the industry is becoming more and more monopolized. Sometimes, a competitor will even pay to get you out of your contract to switch over. And it’ll offer lower monthly payments on top of that. It never hurts to ask.
Next: It’s not just the bills you can negotiate. Interest rates are also up for debate.

6. Credit card interest

hands holding a fan of credit cards
Interest rates can be negotiated. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

People get into trouble with credit cards because they don’t understand how they work. Some think it’s free money, and many more don’t understand they have to pay interest on their purchases. Thus begins the circling of the drain for many people’s finances. But that interest — or the rate, specifically — can be negotiated down. If you’re trying to crawl out of debt, call your credit card company, and see what it can do to help you out.
Next: Flex your negotiation muscles at your gym.

7. Gym memberships

You could always ask. | Halfpoint/iStock/Getty Images Plus

A gym membership can be a great investment. But it’s only great if you actually use it. Otherwise, it might end up just being another money sink. Some gyms charge quite a bit monthly, too, so if you’re not using it you should scrap it and save money. If you do go to the gym, it couldn’t hurt to sit down and see whether you can knock off a few bucks from your monthly bill. As with any other service, you can threaten to cancel and go to another gym to really drive home the point.
Next: You can chip away at your utility bills, too.

8. Electricity

Kitchen with pendant lighting and stools
You might be able to get some competition to bring the price down. | lockongraphics/iStock
  • If your area has more than one provider, let the bidding begin.

You’re never going to completely escape utility bills unless, of course, you’re living completely off the grid. Although a lot of us are stuck with what we have — that usually means a single electricity or water provider — there are parts of the country where competition exists. If you’re in one of those areas, don’t be shy about taking advantage of that. Again, using the free market for your own gain is a good thing, and it can help you save money.
Next: Don’t be afraid to take the fight to your doctor either.

9. Medical bills

Doctor operating CT scanner
Health care costs are astronomical. | Photo_Concepts/iStock/Getty Images

Health care costs are completely out of control. That’s not really a secret in modern America. But most of us forget we can fight back against giant hospital or doctor bills. If you get slapped with an outrageous bill (almost always when it comes to health care) sit down with your hospital or doctor’s billing department, and see what can be done. They know you probably don’t have thousands on hand to pay them and might be willing to make a deal.
Next: Don’t forget about your landlord.

10. Rent

for rent sign
You can try to negotiate the costs. | iStock/Getty Images
  • Before you sign a lease, don’t be afraid to argue about your rent payment.

If you’ve signed a lease, then you’re pretty much stuck. But if you’re looking for a new place to live or your lease is expiring, you should be getting yourself into negotiation mode. There are select parts of the country where a landlord or property management company will tell you to get lost if you try to weasel lower rent out of them. But typically, you can try and work out a better deal before you’re locked in to a contract. There’s no guarantee it’ll work, but it’s worth a shot.
Next: Finally, if you don’t like to negotiate, you can hire somebody to do it for you.

How to hire somebody to haggle for you

Female customer support operator
They’ll handle your negotiations. | opolja/iStock/Getty Images
  • Yes, you can hire somebody to do your negotiations on your behalf.

A new service is budding — one that will take on the negotiations and haggling for you. If you’re somebody who loathes confrontation or discussing money, these services might be a good choice for you. BillFixers, for example, is one of these companies (and there are more). Check out what these companies do, and see whether they might be able to save you money. Of course, you should also negotiate with these services to achieve meta immortality.
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