How to Save on Your Cell Phone, Cable, and Internet Bills

Pick Up the Phone

Who else has the spring cleaning bug? I don’t actually think mine has anything to do with the fact that it’s spring, but rather that I’m trying to put back together everything that’s fallen apart during the past few months of my insane work schedule. And in case you’re wondering, my first day post-quitting was pretty weird. I kept having these alarm bells going off in my head because I hadn’t checked my work email or gotten on my laptop. But now I’m itching to get things organized around the house and around our budget. We’ve gotta see where we can save some dough, folks! And two of those areas are our monthly cell phone and cable bills.

As I’m typing this, Johnny’s been on the phone for the past half hour, haggling with our cell phone provider. This is nothing new in the OFB household. With any monthly subscription service, Johnny calls every few months to renegotiate our monthly rate. Currently, our monthly bills are Internet, cable, and cell phones, and he’s recently called to inquire about lowering the bill for all three since a variety of short-term promotions have expired. Here’s how it usually goes:

Hi, I recently got my bill in the mail, and it’s a little higher than my budget can currently afford for [insert service here]. I was wondering if there’s a way to lower my monthly payment before I decide to cancel the service or go with another provider?

The sales rep starts punching the numbers and always comes up with some money savings. For our cell phone plan, for example, she suggested that we combine our data plans and share 10 GB of data, which would save us about $15/month. But after looking at our data usage, Johnny asked about lowering the shared data to only 2 GB (since we don’t use more than that), which would save us another $35/month. Say what?! And with one phone call, Johnny dropped our monthly cell phone bill 40%. Not too shabby.

With satellite and cable, they usually hit you up with a great deal in the beginning, and then your bill goes up within 6 to 12 months of signing up. At that point, we make sure to call and cancel any and all packages or channels that we don’t watch. For instance, now that most of Johnny’s sporting events have dried up for the next few months (hallelujah!), he called and canceled the sports package we had. And he recently downgraded our channels, too, since we weren’t watching most of them.

By talking with customer service, you can usually find ways to save money. And it usually doesn’t even require much sacrifice (if any) on your end. The customer service reps you talk to have at their disposal a slew of promotions and deals just waiting to be used. If you’re not getting anywhere with your first contact, ask to speak with the customer retention department. Their only job is to save customers. Let them know that you’ve been loyal to their brand and you’d like to continue to use them, if they can just lower the price. Every time we’ve been routed through that department, we’ve always been offered some sort of cost savings solution to keep our business.

Any fellow hagglers out there? How do you feel about calling customer service to save a few dollars each month? Just from Johnny’s two calls tonight, we’ll be saving an extra $60 each month. Cha-ching!

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  • Reply Dave Lalonde May 8, 2014 at 8:47 am

    I agree, there’s no harm in making a few phone calls to negotiate terms. But I’ve never been able to pull off anything like that. Do you think it’s just the luck of the charm? Or is it based on if you are asking the right questions?

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:16 am

      I think it’s a combination of them giving you a little savings, as well as you figuring out where you can cut costs, too. In our situation, we were able to do a little of both, so the savings were greater.

  • Reply i don't hoard May 8, 2014 at 9:25 am

    I’ve been doing the “call the cable company and whine” thing for several years and it’s worked great! I also found that it makes sense to switch to a smaller carrier for my cell phone, like Ting or Republic Wireless. We used to pay $100 a month for an iphone and a dumb phone. Ting charges us $37 for set of phone lines. $70 extra bucks a month is awesome!

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:17 am

      That’s a great deal! Glad you’ve figured out such a great system!

  • Reply Little House May 8, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Last year we switched cell phone providers – from Sprint to Ting (which is hosted off the Sprint network) – and saved us 75% off our bill and then canceled our cable and installed an HD antenna instead. The last place we need to chop our bill is our internet service. We pay a hefty monthly fee for super fast internet. But, it’s about that time of year when MR. LH needs to haggle with our provider and see what they can offer us.

    • Reply Wade May 8, 2014 at 10:19 am

      Well done. We followed a similar path. Ting has been awesome.

      We only have 1 option for internet. Cable. It is $53.75/month for 50mb speed.

      No DSL or other options.

      I am ok with this cost for now as we are heavily utilizing our internet with HD streaming. Plus internet is used by so many devices and WiFi saves data for our cell phone bill.

      • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:18 am

        It drives me crazy when there’s only one option for Internet or cable! We’re in the same boat right now.

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:18 am

      Wow, sounds like you guys are really cutting costs! Awesome.

  • Reply Wade May 8, 2014 at 10:13 am for our 5 cell phones (saving $150/month+) Our bill is now around $100+ taxes for 5 phones. (4 “smart” and 1 dumb which is our home cell phone)

    Dropped DirectTV (saving $125/month)

    4 Roku 3 from Cost co ($93 each, big “one time” investment)

    OTA antenna ($50 from Fleet Farm, already had this from when we moved in)

    Netflix subscription ($11.99 for 4 streams, 3 kids so the $7.99 didn’t work)

    Hulu Plus ($7.99/month)

    A TiVo Premier from Craigslist ($30 one time purchase, $14.99/month)

    Of them all, the TiVO /month cost bugs me, but being able to record off the air allows us to watch tv at odd times. I could do the lifetime payment, but I worry as soon as I do this the Tivo box will die.

    Good luck with your cost cutting.

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:23 am

      Love hearing everything you’ve implemented in your house, Wade! It’s awesome how many cheaper options are out there these days. I think the TiVo is totally worth it. Johnny and I pretty much only watch TV if it’s been prerecorded on our DVR.

  • Reply j.mill May 8, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I have an in-law and a coworker who each call their cable providers every month to get the complete package (HBO, etc.) for a discount. I applaud their initiative, but think I’d get annoyed to haggle every month. Sounds like you guys have found a happy medium.

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:25 am

      Wow, I don’t think Johnny and I could remember to call every month, even if we wanted to! But kudos for them finding a system that works for them!

  • Reply Eric Williams May 8, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Great reminder! and I love the script. Courteous and straight-forward!

    Cell phone: We use Verizon, and surprisingly, they make it super easy to adjust your data usage plan from month to month right on their website. You can see your average usage and then lower the plan to accommodate your needs.

    They even allow you to retro-actively change your plan if you go over your data (Saves about $5-$10 from paying the overage fee depending on how much extra you use).

    Cable: We cut cable a few years ago, but our internet provider could probably use a phone call. ..

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Nice! Sounds like you guys have found a provider that works perfect for your needs!

  • Reply jennifer p May 8, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    i am going to investigate a cheaper option for tv watching.we have cablevision/optimum.we pay almost 70.00 and that doesnt include any premuim channels.they have charged us for programming we never ordered. in april they charged us for spanish programming ,and i dealt with that and this month they have charged us for gay programming,so now i am dealing with that .we are not spanish or gay.not that theres anything wrong with that . cablevision/optimum are the worst.

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:29 am

      So frustrating when companies charge you for random packages/expenses. Hope you’re able to find a better option soon!

  • Reply Courtney May 8, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Slightly off-topic but have you guys done a post on car insurance? That is one area of our budget that I think we are overpaying and could probably cut down on by calling but I get all confused about how much coverage I should have.

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:31 am

      I don’t think we’ve ever done a post on car insurance. Johnny handles the ins and outs of our car insurance, so I’ll tell him to get on a post STAT! 🙂

  • Reply Kendal @HassleFreeSaver May 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    My mom always calls the cable company to get a better rate when she receives a surprising bill. It’s such a racket, isn’t it? Obviously they can give you a better deal, they choose not to and some people pay it because they don’t want to take the time to hassle, or simply don’t know they have the option. Nothing enrages me more than our cell phone bill, but I analyzed it thoroughly a couple months ago and found we’re getting a good deal for what we pay.

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:34 am

      Yup, unfortunately we can’t trust these companies to give us the best deal on their own. So lame!

  • Reply Carla May 8, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Do they ever try to call your bluff? I get internet from the only provider who goes to my apartment building, so I’m worried that if I call and say I’ll have to cancel they just laugh. Can you do a more in-depth post on this?

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:36 am

      That is a frustrating situation to be in, one we’re currently in with our Internet, too. In that case, there’s a little less wiggle room with negotiating, but you can still call and ask if there are any deals or promotions to help lower your monthly cost. It never hurts to give it a try!

    • Reply Michael June 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      It doesn’t hurt to call, just don’t tell them you want to cancel that day. Tell them you’re thinking about canceling because the price is a little higher than you’re able to afford. You can also check and see if they have cheaper (slower) plans.

      I’ve tried this w/ Comcast in the past and found it was almost worth paying more just to not have to deal with their “customer service.” I have absolutely no doubt that’s by design.

      • Reply Joanna June 4, 2014 at 1:44 pm

        Good tips, Michael! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply EcoCatLady May 8, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    What?!? You cancelled the sports channels the day of the NFL draft?!? What kind of a sports fan are you???? 🙂 Just kidding. I pulled the plug entirely on cable TV a few years back and couldn’t be happier…. well, I do miss a few sporting events now and then, but in general with Netflix, Roku and off the air channels, I’ve got WAY more than enough to keep my busy.

    I have to confess that I’ve never, ever had the guts to try calling to get my bill lowered. I know it’s a thing people do, but it just presses my little “I’m being too pushy” buttons. Perhaps I should just get over it, take a deep breath and give it a try.

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:37 am

      Don’t encourage him! And the sports package didn’t include ESPN, so he still watched the NFL draft unfortunately. 🙂

  • Reply Anna // Gone Banannas May 8, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I just paid a $175 comcast bill. IM DOING SOMETHING SO WRONG!

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:38 am

      Sounds like it’s time to pick up the phone! 🙂

      • Reply Anna // Gone Banannas May 20, 2014 at 5:29 pm

        Joanna! I had to come back here and let you know that I called Comcast right after you guys shared this post and they lowered my bill by $20/month! :Thanks again for the tips! 🙂

  • Reply Kasey @ Debt Perception May 8, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    I don’t have cable but I always call to haggle my internet bill when a promotional period ends. I had an introductory rate for 3 years but it still went up last year by about $10. Sometimes it takes threatening to find another provider before they send me off to the loyalty department, where I usually find some kind of deal.

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:40 am

      Well done! Johnny has had to hold out for the retention department a time or two, and *somehow* they always find a way to lower our cost.

  • Reply Mark Ross @moneysavingdude May 9, 2014 at 10:40 am

    I agree with you on that. Haggling or talking with your service provider isn’t that bad at all, and if all goes well you’ll be saving a lot of money.

    • Reply Joanna May 9, 2014 at 10:41 am

      Yep! More often than not, it’s a pretty painless process!

  • Reply Megyn May 9, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    I’ve called our internet provider many, many times. It usually saves us about $5/month. Our TMobile bill is different entirely. We currently pay $83/month for two NON smart phones with unlimited calls and texts. We’ve had so many issues that Tmobile never follows through on. We’re getting ready to buy new phones and switch to Ting, for a good $20+ savings per month, which will include an additional line for my business.

  • Reply Kassandra May 9, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    I have no problem with calling a company I do with business with to get a better rate and pocket more of my money. What’s the worst they can say; no. Usually they don’t because they are not willing to lose the revenue, even if they have to lose a few dollars. I have done it several times and it always paid off.

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