How a Few 10 Minute Calls Saved Us Money

It's been awhile since I tried to lower any of our recurring monthly bills. In fact, I can't remember the last time I even paid close attention to just how much we are paying for things like newspaper subscriptions and satellite TV.

Of course, now that I might be out of work for just a little while I decided to look over our finances in more detail. I've never been one to maintain a budget, but I do want to know just how much we spend on an ongoing basis.

So I pulled up a combination of websites and started reviewing our monthly bill pay and credit card transactions. Some things can only be changed by our behaviors, for example the gas and electric bill, but other items can be more easily negotiated.

First up on my list was Sirius satellite. To be honest, I should just get rid of this service all together and when it runs out next year I certainly will. With the ability to play songs through my iPhone I don't really need this anymore, but for the time being I like the convenience of jumping into the car and turning on weather, news, sports and uninterrupted music.

This was much more important to me when I drove around the dreaded beltway. Stranded in traffic for an hour or two and I would start going batty without a little entertainment. Now that my commute is only 25 to 30 minutes this service is much less important and once I stay home it won't be important at all.

So I called, explained my recent job changes and asked for a discount. I told them if they couldn't drastically reduce the price I would simply cancel the service, which wasn't a lie, I completely intended to do so. They cut the bill by more than half and told me I could still stop the service all together at any point in the future.

Next I moved on to the Washington Post. I found a deal online where I could subscribe for half the price, but in order to do so I would have to end my existing subscription. I don't really like to play those kinds of games so I called and asked if I could simply get the deal for new subscribers. The kind gentlemen on the other line offered to send me 7-day service for a better bargain, but I explained that I read my news online and only receive the Sunday edition for its coupons. He couldn't give me the exact same deal I saw online, but he did cut the price of my paper in half for a limited period of time.

Lastly I called Direct TV. This is by far one of our largest recurring bills. The friendly Direct TV representative couldn't do a whole lot for me, but she did offer to knock $10 off our monthly bill. She also suggested that I look over the currently offered packages to see if we couldn't downgrade to a cheaper one and still receive all of the channels my husband is looking for.

I did a little research on our AT&T bill, but that's the one nut I'm not sure I'll be able to crack. From what I've read it is very difficult to reduce this bill if you own the iPhone. Does anyone know if there is a way to negotiate with AT&T?

If we were terribly strapped for cash we would simply get rid of all or most of these services. After all, even with the reduction in price we'll still shell out a significant amount of money each month, but it was nice to know a few 10 minute phone calls added an extra little wiggle room to our finances.