January is the perfect time to have a bit of a spring clean for your finances, and checking your regular bills is a really good place to start if you’re looking for a big win. My mobile contract was up for renewal this month, so that’s where I’ve started, so I thought I’d share some cheeky money saving tips in case you’re looking for some inspiration.
To begin, let’s look at a cold hard fact: utility and service companies never truly reward your loyalty. Sure, you might get a few perks or offers thrown in from time to time, but the best deals on everyday bills are reserved for new customers only. So, my attitude is give no loyalty in return, and fight the urge to be lazy.
How I cut my monthly mobile phone bill to £8
My bill-reducing actions were pretty simple:
- Check current terms and conditions + my usage patterns
- Research the market for a better deal
- Haggle (this is the bit where skills come in handy)
- Check for perks
- Make final decision
- Leave myself a diary note
My mobile phone account last year was with EE, and at the time I’d agreed to the contract, it was a fairly good deal. The priority aim at the time had been a mobile deal that had a cheap monthly fee, so that people could always contact me for work – very important for a freelancer. It wasn’t for entertainment or having long social chats with people, so I went for a cheap monthly handset-included plan as the bottom line, and the data and phone minutes were less important.
Work out what you need and want
However, a look at my usage patterns for the last six months showed that my needs had changed. I was working outside the office more often, and some of the places I was working didn’t have access to free WiFi so I’d been running out of data here and there. I needed a new plan with more data.
My old contract was up in January, so it was time to research the market. I looked at several price comparison sites and took a few notes; prices had come down come down considerably since the previous year and most plans included more data and calls than before. I found a SIM-only deal with another company that had 3GB data, 500 minutes of calls and unlimited texts for only £8.00 per month. [I also checked the reliability of the network they use, and their ratings for customer service].
Get haggling, and keep it cute
The next step was to haggle with the current provider, in this case EE. I have a lot of cheeky tips for haggling, the first one being don’t look like you’re trying to haggle – just give the appearance that you’re trying to leave (politely). I phoned up customer services and asked for my PAC (porting authorisation code), which of course tells them that you’re about to leave.
They gave me the PAC, and then (of course) asked me why I was leaving. I kept it simple and friendly, and said I’d found a really good deal somewhere else, sounding upbeat and enthusiastic. I made it clear that the monthly bill was lower, and there was a much bigger data allowance, so the operator knew what my priorities were for a good deal.
Fortunately, I was then asked if I would stay with the current company if they could match the deal. I played it cool and said ‘oh, it wouldn’t hurt to find out, I suppose.’ While always staying polite, I find it best not to be too enthusiastic at this point. The operator then went to check something with someone (maybe a sales tactic, maybe real, who knows?).
The upshot of it was that the company matched the price of the new deal, and offered me even more data than the new deal, plus unlimited calls and texts. The ‘catch’ was a 12-month contract rather than a rolling contract, but I was happy to fix for a year as this helps me with budgeting anyway. I took the deal, saving myself at least £7.00 per month or £84.00 per year, or if you prefer percentages it was cutting my bill by 47%.
Watch out for the sneaky upsell
Warning: they also tried to upsell me to buy broadband from them as well. Watch out for upselling! I’m not looking for a new broadband deal right now, plus I hadn’t had time to research prices to find the best deal so I said a very quick and firm ‘no’ to that.
If I hadn’t been offered what I wanted, I’d have moved to the new supplier with the final step of looking for perks before buying. That could be looking for cashback, extra discounts or associated freebies. These are always secondary to getting a good deal in the first place, but they can still mean a few savings here and there.
Scheduling saves time, hassle and £££
Finally, I put a date in my e-calendar for the first week of January next year so I don’t end up with an out of date deal once this contract is up. I’ll be looking for a new handset as well next time, so there will be an extra set of requirements to research and figure in. Making this diary date took seconds to complete and will save me a whole load of bother in a year’s time – no chance of forgetting that the deal is up!
So that’s how I haggled down a monthly bill, saved some cash and got some generous extras thrown in too. Could you get a better deal on one or more of your bills this month?