Friday, July 27, 2007

Lowering my monthly bills

This post is my contribution to Biblical Womanhood's Frugal Fridays series.

I've focused so much on increasing my earnings and decreasing my spending on
groceries and restaurants this summer that I didn't give much thought to my monthly bills. In my calculations, I always just assumed cable and phone to be fixed expenses, like my rent or health insurance. They are, of course, not.

So I decided to examine them and see what could be eliminated. Cable and internet, while discretionary expenses, are things we really use and enjoy, so cutting them off entirely wasn't really on the table at this point (although they might be in the future). Our house phone line, on the other hand, seemed worth looking into.

We rarely, if ever, call out on our house line, and since we always have extra minutes leftover on the smallest cell plan we could get (we mostly use free weekend or mobile to mobile time), we could easily make that substitution. Nobody calls us except one friend who is local, and he could easily make the switch too. Our apartment call box is hooked up to our local phone, but for $5 a month we can have them use our cells instead. To cut out a $25 expense in favor of a $5 expense seemed like a no-brainer.

Except not.

Our internet right now is DSL through the phone company for only $20 a month. When we used cable internet it was between 40 and 50. I called the phone company and asked what happens to our DSL if we cancel our local phone, and I was told we'd have to switch to "dry loop" DSL which would cost $40 a month. Not much in the way of reducing our expenses. Our options became cable internet for $45 a month, DSL for $40 a month, or DSL and phone for $45. Hmmmmmm.

She then offered to link my cell phone bills to my landline bills and give me a one time credit of $25. While not the $20 a month decrease I'd been hoping for, it sounded worth doing, especially since I could just cancel next month. When she went to do it though, she found she couldn't because of the 15% discount we're getting on our cell phones through hubby's job (15% every month > $25 once). Hrmppphh.

Frustrated, I thanked her and hung up. Desperately wanting to do something about my monthly expenses, I called my cable company and asked for a special. For those of you who are timid about doing this, as I used to be, I wasn't rude, I didn't threaten to quit, I didn't abuse anyone or ask for a manager. I simply called the sales department and said "I was wondering if we were eligible for any discounts." She checked and said they could give me a rate $15 lower than what we were currently paying for the next three months. So with that phone call I saved $45. I just have to remember to call back in three months.

But what to do about the phone and internet? Hmmmm. Any suggestions?


Fabulously Broke in the City said...

I dunno.. but I can tell you that when we bundled all of our services and got a hefty 15% discount, when we cancelled each service one by one, they still kept that discount on the account for us, even though we only had one product in the end (cellphone)...