Yesterday I spent an hour on the phone negotiating my monthly bill with my wireless provider. It was a long, tedious hour, but I can’t argue with the results: I’m going to be saving $600 per year. Now I feel dumb for not doing it sooner.
I love a great sale or coupon stack as much as the next person, but it stands to reason that your biggest savings will come from slashing your biggest expenses. In the spirit of spring cleaning, now is the time to do a little financial housekeeping and determine which of your monthly bills can be reduced or even eliminated. If you’ve been hoping that a personal finance fairy would swoop in and do it for you . . . well, I can’t help you there. But I can tell you about the next best thing: three new services that will do (almost) all the work for you.
1. BILLSHARK: Your personal negotiator
BILLSHARK is a new website that negotiates lower rates on several different kinds of monthly expenses. Here’s how it works: you take a picture of your bill (be sure to include all the pertinent information) and then send the photo off to BILLSHARK. BILLSHARK negotiates the bill for you and sends you an update on your savings. BILLSHARK negotiates the following bills:
- Satellite TV
- Cable TV and Internet
- Wireless Phone
- Satellite Radio
- Internet Access
- Home Security
BILLSHARK reports an 85% success rate and promises savings of up to 25%. It operates on a simple fee structure: you pay 25% of your annual savings (for one year only) in four monthly installments. If you want to make a single payment you’ll save 10% off of that. So if BILLSHARK saves you $1000, you pay $250 over four payments. If you want to pay in full, your payment is reduced by 10%, meaning you pay $225. If you don’t save any money, you don’t pay any money. I wish I had known about this before I got on the phone yesterday!
2. Trim: Making your monthly bills a little leaner
Are you paying for a gym membership you never use? A magazine subscription that’s going to the wrong address? Can you even remember? Trim is a new service that will identify recurring charges for services that you might not be using any more.
The process is simple: you register your primary credit cards with Trim. It uses an algorithm to scan for recurring payments – and it’s smart enough to ignore charges to the cafe where you buy coffee every morning. Then it sends you a text with a list of those charges. All you have to do is tell Trim if you want to continue those payments, cancel them, or find discounts. You don’t even have to do the canceling yourself – Trim does all of that for you.
The service is completely free. Trim doesn’t take a cut of your savings or charge any fees. It also uses bank-level security to safeguard your credit card information, including “256-bit SSL encryption on our website, encrypted databases, and two-factor authentication when you sign in.”
3. Paribus: Getting price adjustments on your online purchases
Paribus is a little different in that it’s not saving on your monthly expenses. But it ensures that you’re getting the best price on your online purchases, which can be a big chunk of a lot of people’s budgets!
Here’s how: register your email account (the one you use for your online shopping) to allow the Paribus Receipt Fetcher to identify purchases. Go about your shopping and Paribus will monitor your purchases and look for opportunities to get money back. Then it automatically files a price adjustment request on your behalf. If the request is successful, Paribus takes a 25% cut of the money saved.
Note that Paribus only supports a limited number of retailers right now, but they are the big guns (Amazon, Target, Zappos, etc . . . ) so chances are you’re shopping there. Amazon is particularly useful because prices there can fluctuate wildly.
Disclaimer: I have not used these services yet, but I am planning to give them a try. Stay tuned for my reviews.
Have you found new ways to save money?