Despite high gas prices and a volatile economy, now is still a good time to be a consumer if you know how to find the best deals. Corporations are merging services and competing to squeeze every last penny from your wallet. That might sound a bit intimidating at first, but it has created a new age of “bundling” where one company aims to fill your every need. Here is how to take advantage of this trend and save big on the services you use most.
Track Your Spending
The first step in saving money with bundling is to know how much you are spending on your current services. This means looking back at your last few months of bank transactions. Take notes on what you actually pay for monthly services like power, cable television, and mobile communications. If you have a small business, especially if it is home-based, then you’ll want to factor these bills in as well. In short, you want to know how many checks you are writing, and for much, so that you can accurately compare bundle deals that fit your needs.
Measure Usage Patterns
Remember when the cable guy sold you on those premium channels that were “only” $10 more per month? Well now is the time to evaluate those upgrades to decide if you actually used them. You’re going to encounter these upsells again while shopping for bundle deals, and it is much easier, to be honest with yourself now because you will be tempted again by these offers during the sales process. Take a look back across the board on all the special features you’ve signed up for. Things like unlimited long distance, high definition channels, and cell phone insurance may not be worth the extra money they cost you.
Pick Your Must-Haves
Okay, so now you know how much you are spending, and what features you no longer need from your monthly service providers. The next step is to identify the products and services that are most important to you. Perhaps you love your iPhone, or you just cannot live without Food Network on Demand. No problem with that, as long as you know in advance. Let your preferences steer your decisions on who you are willing to do business with.
The first phone call you make should be to your existing cable or phone company. Communication companies like this usually offer the most services under one contract, and this increases your odds of saving more. You can listen to their pitch if you want, but the more direct approach is to tell them you are shopping for the best bundle deals on phone, internet, and television service. Stating this upfront should get negotiations moving faster. At the end of the discussion, have the representative email you a copy of the prices, features, and contract.
Your next phone call is to the competition. Once again, get right to the point and give them the monthly quote you got from the first call. Ideally, you will be offered a lower price, but even if not, you still want all of the details emailed to you. This is because promotional offers can vary significantly. It could be that the first few months of one service is cheaper, but after this introductory period, the price goes up substantially. Be careful with “bait and switch” offers like these or else you’ll get stuck in an expensive contract.
The bottom line is that you should use service bundles to save money, but be sure to do your homework first. Understand what you need, and how much you are currently paying before you start shopping. If you are paying separate providers for cable, telephone, and internet then you are likely paying much more than you should. In these cases, a simple phone call could save you hundreds of dollars a year!