Taking time out to negotiate better rates for all your bills will save you money in the long run.
Reporter/byline: Rob Engen, Personal Finance
Many of us suffer from financial inertia because we can’t seem to find the time or have a desire to deal with our money problems. We put off decisions that, with some careful planning and research, could save us hundreds of dollars per year.
Yet consider the time many devote to finding a bargain, whether it’s to save a few bucks on gas, groceries, or a Black Friday door-crasher. We’re often willing to spend hours driving, shopping, and waiting in line to save what amounts to pennies on the hour, or minimum wage at best.
The areas that have a bigger financial impact on our lives, such as our banking, insurance, and mortgage needs, as well as recurring services like cable, telephone, and internet can get ignored and pushed aside for another day.
Tom Hamza, president of the Investor Education Fund, came up with a novel approach to deal with his financial inertia, one that easily saved him up to $1,000 per year.
Hamza and his wife take a day off work to deal with it all, calling all of their service providers to negotiate better deals.
“We had all these fees that we hated paying and bills that we knew were too high, but we avoided dealing with them because we were so busy,” he said.
Your list should include things that are either on auto-pilot such as recurring monthly bills and subscriptions, or ones that you glance at once a year and can’t be bothered to change, like banking, insurance and investing.
The block of time is crucial because these types of phone calls can often take an hour or more, given time on hold, transfers up the line and the actual negotiation of a deal.
“Negotiating is about being tough and persistent on the phone and it’s not something you can hope to accomplish on your lunch hour,” said Hamza.
How many of us still pay for services we neither want, nor need, all because we didn’t bother to make a phone call?
Marketers are well aware of this tendency. The cable company that offers you free programming for three months. The credit card that offers you six months free balance protection insurance.
The onus is put on you to call and cancel before the full price kicks-in, yet despite our good intentions we often don’t bother because it’s easier to do nothing.
Take an active role in your finances and don’t let financial inertia get the better of you.
All it will take is a few phone calls and some perseverance.
“You’ll be surprised how quickly you can save $1,000 or more at the end of the day just by asking,” said Hamza.