I am (now) a fairly frugal person. Over the past 20 years, I’ve read lots of frugal living books, blogs, and tips. I’ve implemented all sorts of changes to save money. Some work, some are nothing but a PITA with little reward.
When I had to quickly save money right after my ES (estranged spouse) moved out, I did something I’d read about and never tried. I called some of my service providers and asked for discounts. Take Cox Communications as an example. We use Cox for our cable and internet. We have the super-speedy, all the bells and whistles internet service because ES and the three kids play a lot of multi-player games online. We’ve got a wireless network, and the regular (cheaper)
connection would slow way down whenever one person was downloading and the others were playing games. The super-speedy connection saved a lot of squabbles. I wanted to keep it. Three teens + fewer squabbles = good.
That left the cable. I’ve wanted to get rid of all or most of our cable services for a long time. The cost keeps going up and it’s ridiculously expensive. I never did it, though, because ES freaked whenever I’d bring it up. But that’s no longer an issue, so I went onto the Cox website and searched through their current offers and all their packages. I found one that would save more than $30/month and still allow me to watch MSNBC (I’m a news junkie and Rachel Maddow doesn’t offer an online stream). I called customer service, explained I needed to cut back on expenses and wanted to switch plans. The representative asked a number of questions and ultimately offered to reduce the price of my current plan by more than $35/month for a year. Heck, yeah, sign me up.
I’m still paying about $40/month for cable. And I’ve noticed that we really don’t watch much TV (MSNBC and Rachel Maddow aside). In a few months, or when my yearlong discounts expire, I’ll revisit the cable TV expense. Rachel has a podcast, but I haven’t got a clue whether that would be just too much hassle for me. Also, the news is bumming me out, so cutting back might be good for my inner peace.
There are, of course, loads of options. Get rid of the TV altogether; get rid of the TV and watch streamed content on a computer or laptop; get rid of cable and watch streamed content on the TV; get rid of cable and go with a satellite or antenna. I’ll observe our wants, needs, and habits to figure out which options might work for us.
But for now, just 15 minutes of research and a phone call saved me almost half on the monthly cost of cable. I did the same thing with a couple of other non-essential services and cut about $200 from our monthly expenses with an hour of time and some phone calls. Time well spent, I think.