The 6 Quick Phone Calls That Saved Me $500

by Allison Martin · 14 comments

I remember that scorching hot July like it was yesterday. Money was tight, and the measly income I was bringing in barely covered the cost of part-time childcare. There were only two options to get over the hump: quit my job and desperately hope that a better opportunity surfaced, or find ways to make my money stretch.

So, out of sheer desperation, I scrutinized every dime leaving my bank account and started making phone calls to see what could be done.

Here’s who I called:

1. Cable provider

My cable bill was much higher than usual, so instead of sucking it up and forking over the cash, I picked up the phone. To my surprise, my toddler had added a set of premium channels, which triggered an automatic plan upgrade in the system. I’d also forgotten to cancel DVR service once the promotional period lapsed. Fortunately, the customer service representative was very understanding, and I was able to reduce my bill by $45.

Total monthly savings: $45

2. Utility provider

Next up were my utility bills. I was accustomed to paying well over $100 for electricity and water in such a small space, and I didn’t think twice about it. That is, until I received a flyer that recommended an energy audit to identify problematic areas in the home and potentially reduce costs. Of course, I scheduled a water consumption and energy audit right away, made the recommended adjustments, and saved our household a decent amount of cash in subsequent months.

Total monthly savings: $60

3. Cell phone provider

At the time, smartphones were beginning to surface — and I had to get my hands on one. (Now, I just need a functional device for talking and texting.) But with the new smartphones came data plans. Expensive ones. I called my cell phone provider to drastically reduce my plan until the contract lapsed, when I would switch over to a more affordable carrier with unlimited data.

Total monthly savings: $50

4. Car insurance provider

The most beneficial call was to my car insurance provider. My family’s been doing business with this particular agent for many years, so when I explained I was in dire straits and needed to cut costs, he immediately examined my plan and searched for discounts that hadn’t been applied. Long story short: I ended up with safe driver, bundle, multi-vehicle, and customer loyalty discounts. Raising my deductible by $250 also worked wonders. Not bad for a five-minute phone call!

Total monthly savings: $100

5. Spa

We all deserve a little pampering, but only if the bank account permits it. Well, in my case, funds were low and paying for a service I never used was pointless. So I cancelled the contract and pocketed the cash.

Total monthly savings: $45

6. Bank

To get my spending on track, I’d been trying to use the envelope system — but it wasn’t working out so well. That’s when I called the bank and set strict transaction limits on my debit card. Any time I exceeded the limit for a single purchase or an entire day, the system would promptly issue a denial, and I’d think twice about what I was attempting to buy.

Total monthly savings: $200

Though that was an extremely difficult time in my life, I learned how to make the most of what I had and only spend money on things that were beneficial to my family’s well-being.

Have you called any of these companies recently? Or, do you have any other recommendations for money-saving phone calls?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • CheapMom says:

    Just a question: is the $200 per month savings from the bank on your fees or the purchases you now don’t make with your stricter limits? I read that and thought, who pays $200 a month to their bank?!

    I haven’t had too much luck with making calls in the past. I say “I found a cheaper service” and they say, “good luck”. So I switch and usually get better service for a cheaper price.

    • David @ says:

      It’s $200 a month savings because she was able to rein in spending by having transaction limits. It would be ridiculous if someone pays their bank $200 a month on fees regularly, even though I bet some people do through fees + credit card interests.

      • Beau W says:

        I just did this same thing with my cell phone bill. I just asked if there was anything I can do to lower my bill. She said if I sign up for auto pay I get $10.00 off my monthly bills. Plus she gave me a $5.00 off credit. Worked out well for me. It’s true it never hurts to ask.

        • David @ says:

          I bet it’s the highest per hour wage you’ve made in a while too right? Good job calling them Beau!

  • Josh Sheehan says:

    Some people (like myself) can’t stand long wait times and headstrong representatives that won’t budge. I called AT&T wireless to try to reduce my bill several times, after being transferred three times they offered me a one-time $5 discount. To me this seemed outrageous, I have been a customer for 12+ years, and they can’t help me out a little bit? I work at BillCutterz so I wanted to see if anyone would have better luck than I did. To say the least, I saved a ton of money. After Tony’s negotiation, I saved $850 for the year! I was honestly shocked. I came to the conclusion that either I’m terrible at negotiating or Tony is just that good. Regardless I saved a lot of money for literally no work. Calling your service providers to save money is a really great idea, but if you’re busy like me and continue to struggle to reach any success with your service providers give BillCutterz a try!

  • Christina @ Northern Cheapskate says:

    My husband successfully lowered our DirecTV bill by $35 a month by calling and repeatedly threatening to cancel the account.

    We were also able to lower our utility bills by switching to off-peak programs for our heating, air conditioning and hot water heating.

    It’s always a good idea to a review of those regular expenses to make sure you’re not overpaying.

    • David @ says:

      Good moves Christina! And good point about regularly reviewing the programs. I put mine on the calendar in Outlook so it shows up as an appointment. It works!

    • Allison Martin says:

      Those are all smart moves, Christina. It makes no sense to overpay for those services. Thanks for the feedback!

  • Aldo @ Million Dollar Ninja says:

    These few phone calls could save you hundreds each month indeed. Even though I haven’t had cable for over a year, I still have to deal with Comcast when it comes to internet. I was paying $39.99/month for the first year but then it shot up to $54.99/month. I called them to see if I could bring it down to $39.99 again and they said they couldn’t do anything for me. So I cancelled it and had my fiancee put the internet under her name. We have internet for $39.99/month again for the next 12 months!

    I also switched my cellphone provider to Ting and I’m saving $70/month for the same service I had before.

    A few phone calls could save you a lot of money and it only takes a few minutes of your time. It really doesn’t hurt to try. And if they don’t do anything for you, you can always switch to something else.

    • Allison Martin says:

      Switching is always the best option if all else fails, Aldo. Thanks for the feedback!

    • David @ says:

      Switching between you/your spouse’s account is an incredibly easy but effective way to get discounts because of all the new user signup bonuses. Great to hear that you are taking advantage of this Aldo!

      I call my DSL every 6 months to get a new deal. It’s a bit of a hassle but every penny of that $15 a month goes into my pocket!

      • Ashley says:

        My husband loves to call AT&T every few months to ask for specials too. We have had two years of the fastest internet plan for $20-25 a month. This is the first year we have had to pay $29/month (which is still great, but they started getting chinsey with the discounts 🙂 ) – It never hurts to call, and it seems that if you talk to someone from a different country (you know, the outsourced calls) they are more likely to give you a better deal.

        • David @ says:

          Interesting tip about the outsource callers being more willing to give you discounts. I also have AT&T DSL, and let your husband know to be wary of giving up the fact that you are also an AT&T cell phone customer (if that’s the case). I once let them see if they could give me a discount over at the wireless division, and that turned out to be a nightmare because they changed my plan even though I repeatedly said I don’t want a different plan.

          When I found out, I had to go through a ton of hoops and talk to supervisor after supervisor at AT&T Wireless just to get them to change my plan back to the original one, so beware!

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