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Can you really reduce your monthly expenses by negotiating?

Personal finance contributor Christopher Liew shares some tips on how to use negotiation to reduce your monthly expenses and put more money back in your pocket (fizkes / Getty Images) Personal finance contributor Christopher Liew shares some tips on how to use negotiation to reduce your monthly expenses and put more money back in your pocket (fizkes / Getty Images)
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Feeling like you're in over your head with all of the bills and subscription fees?

Whether we're talking streaming services, premium social media accounts, your phone bill, cable bill, internet bill, or anything else, this post is for you.

Here's the thing -- these bills aren’t always set in stone. With a bit of strategic negotiation on your end, it’s often possible to cut your monthly bills and expenses. Negotiating your bills (whether in-person, over the phone, or using specialized apps) can lead to substantial savings.

Below, I’ll share some helpful tips and tricks you can use to try to cut your bills down and put more money back in your pocket.

Preparing to negotiate

The average Canadian household spends $4,223 per year on recreational services and activities, according to a 2021 study by Statistics Canada.

For many, a significant portion of this includes their cable bill, streaming services, and other entertainment-related subscriptions.

Start by reviewing your current bills to identify which could be negotiable. These include, but aren’t necessarily limited, to:

  • Cable
  • Internet
  • Cell phone service
  • Insurance premiums (in certain unregulated provinces)
  • Some online subscriptions
  • Debt repayments

Typically, utilities like power, water, and gas are not negotiable, as rates are subject to government regulations by organizations like the Ontario Energy Board or the Alberta Utilities Commission.

Gather all relevant information, including your usage data, current rates, and competitor offers (this is an important one). All of this data will provide a solid foundation for your negotiation.

Whether you’re looking to lower your rate, get a better service package, or add additional perks, knowing your limits and having a plan in place will give you more confidence during the negotiation process.

Negotiating over the phone

Negotiating bills over the phone can be highly effective if approached with the right strategy. Start the conversation on a positive note by being polite and professional. Courtesy and respect can go a long way in getting the representative on your side.

Clearly state your case by explaining why you’re seeking a lower rate, using specific details about your current situation, such as recent financial hardships or uncertainty about needing the product.

When it comes to cutting down on your telecom bills, such as for your internet, TV, and phone, there are several strategies you can try. See if bundling your services together can reduce your overall costs. Companies often offer discounts when you combine multiple services, so it’s worth asking about these deals.

The competition

Mentioning lower rates offered by competitors can be a powerful bargaining chip to persuade your current provider to match or beat those rates.

You can also try to ask for loyalty rewards or promotions if you’ve been a long-term customer. Highlighting your loyalty can unlock special rates or perks that aren’t advertised.

Often, the first representative you speak to may not have the authority to give you the best deal. In this case, thank the representative for their help and then ask to speak to a supervisor or the retention department, as they can have more flexibility to work on your bills.

If you encounter resistance, remain calm and reiterate your key points. The key to successful negotiation lies in controlling your emotions. Persistence and a positive attitude can often turn a “no” into a “yes.”

Identifying more ways to save

Once you cut down your monthly subscriptions and bills, it’s time to start finding more ways to save.

One of the most practical tips I share with people is to use grocery store budgeting apps that let you search for coupons and take advantage of “flash deals” offered by grocery stores to prevent food waste.

Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder and former financial advisor. He writes personal finance tips for thousands of daily Canadian readers on Blueprint Financial.

Do you have a question, tip or story idea about personal finance? Please email us at dotcom@bellmedia.ca.

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