You work hard for your money. Or, at least I hope you do. If you are stealing money, scamming people or just inherited $100,000, then you’ll most likely blow it anyways. But for those of us that really value a hard-earned dollar, don’t you hate it when someone over-charges you for something? That’s the worst. And not just the mistake, but the hassle of correcting that mistake just leaves a sour taste in your mouth (or maybe you just ate a warhead…). Whatever the case, it stinks.
I’ve noticed over the past few years that I am always fighting tooth and nail to keep our money. Companies and people seem to always be after it in subtle ways. I swear most of the just hope I don’t notice and want to walk away clean with my cash. I used to get a headache going through this process of recovering my heard-earned cash money, but now I just realized it’s the norm.
So, based on my experience, here’s a list of 3 areas that you need to watch out for and how to keep more of your money:
1. Medical Bills.
After having a baby, we started to have the medical bills pile in. Luckily, my insurance paid for most everything, but there were some bills that were not 100% covered. As they came in, I had noticed that a few of them were not billed to insurance. Come to find, my insurance didn’t believe that my son was covered under my insurance plan, but under my wife’s old plan. I had already told them several times that he was never covered under her plan, but they kept reverting back to that and not paying. I finally sent a formal complaint via email attached to one of the bills through their site and they emailed back saying they could resolve this. We’ll see when the next bills come in.
We also noticed that the insurance would be billed and they would reject payment, but if we waited a month or two, they would then approve payment. Since they don’t usually throw you to collection until about 6 months of delinquency, we waited on most of the bills, and actually saved a few hundred dollars because the insurance finally approved some payments. Medical billing is so jacked up, I don’t get it.
Savings: About $800 so far
2. Cable/Internet Bill
If you are not in the habit of checking your cable/internet bill, you definitely should be. Especially for those of you who have cable. There are so many little fees and charges that make up your bill it’s hard to know what you are really paying for. We have internet only, but they would jack up our rate every 6 months. I would have to call and ask them to lower it every time. It got to the point where I had to follow the phone prompts to get to the “cancel my service” option before I was able to get it changed. Of course, I always had a backup service that I would jump to if they actually wouldn’t budge and cancelled my service, but they never did.
Most of these companies have an entire department dedicated to “customer retention”, because though there little fees and rate hikes don’t show it well, they do realize the cost of losing a “lifetime customer”. So they will usually resolve any billing dispute in your favor. If you haven’t questioned your cable/internet bill lately, or just think you are paying too much, I suggest you give them a call, let them know that you are not happy with the rate you are paying and negotiate a better deal. Or you can switch providers and save with Megapath. You can probably just ask what “promotions” they have going on and tell them you want that price.
Savings: $35 a month
3. Cell Phone Bill
Another technology bill, another place for companies to screw up. I’m not sure what the correlation is, but there seems to be an awfully high percentage of mistakes with technology bills. Whatever the reason, your cell phone bill is another place that you need to scrutinize. There are many fees and charges that make up your bill, so I’ll break ‘em down real quick.
- Plan Charges: This is the charge for your monthly minute plan. If you have multiple lines, usually the first line costs the most, and all other lines are $10 a month.
- Voice Charges: This is usually covered in the plan, but if you have long-distance (does that exist anymore) or roaming charges, they’d show up here.
- Messaging Charges: This is your text messages. Most companies offer pay-per-text or unlimited with nothing in between. It’s really become a ridiculous monolopy and a lack of options, but it is what it is. If you have a LARGE messaging bill, you should be able to call and have them adjust your plan so you don’t pay for overages. You should be able to convince them to waive any “overage fees” as well.
- Data Charges: This is where all cell phone plans are making money these days. There are very few (if any) truly “Unlimited” plans, and if there are, they cost like $70+ a month! GROSS! Most give you 2GB or 3GB for about $30 a month, but seriously, I have personally see this rate change 3 times in the past few months. So if you are paying a ton for data, you may want to look at the usage here
- One-Time Charges: This usually includes activation fees and such. When I used to sell cell phone, I was able to waive these pretty regularly, so see if you can convince them to waive these if you are buying a new phone. I bet you can!
We have added a few lines to our plan recently, and I had to comb through all of these to make sure I wasn’t overcharged. I caught one activation fee (clerk said it wouldn’t be there) that I called out and they fixed it on the next month’s bill. I have also lowered our minute plan a few times in the past to save about $10 a month or so.
Savings: $36 fee + $10 a month
More to Come
These are just a few of the areas I have had to fight to keep our money. It is becoming a constant battle and really is starting to serve as a second job. So be very wary of just writing a check or plopping down your credit card info to pay these bills without giving them a once-over. And since some of these are recurring charges, you could be wasting hundreds of dollars a year! I’ll have a Part 2 and Part 3 of this series on how to save money on bills in the coming weeks.
Comments: Do you check your bills before paying them. Have you caught any mistakes that have saved you hundreds? What is it with billing departments that always makes mistakes in their favor? Do you think they do it on purpose? And why do they keep advertising the medal winners in the Olympics just before showing the pre-taped event for the first time here in the U.S.?