The kindest cut: Chopping my cable bill with a phone call...and without giving up anything

The smart people are currently looking for ways to cut their expenses to save money and feel more financially secure. Today I found a way to save $33 a month without even giving up anything. I looked at my cable bill and decided to make a change.

My cable bill is paid each month via a credit card which I pay in full every billing cycle. I wasn't paying much attention, until I saw that my cable bill for the month was $151. Huh? My bill wasn't that much. I took a look, and saw that my bill used to be $135 a month, until I got a mysterious increase in my internet access. I thought I'd give the cable company a call and see if I couldn't get that extra $16 a month removed.

By the time I got off the phone, my monthly bill was down to $118, and it didn't hurt a bit. As I talked over my bill with the customer service representative, I was reminded that I was paying $13 a month for HBO. If I had to guess, I'd say I watch HBO once a month at the very most. Time to give up the HBO that I won't even miss anyway.
Then the even better news. I could "lock in" my pricing on a package that includes all the same channels I have, plus internet access, for about $20 less than the current rate. It meant that I'd have to agree to a 24 month contract in exchange for the discount. I'm not giving up cable or internet access anytime soon, so why not commit in exchange for the discount? Besides that, the cable company has been increasing prices by 5% or more a year, so locking in this discounted rate made sense.

When all was said and done, my $151 cable bill was down to $118. And I won't even have to change my viewing habits or internet use. That's almost $400 a year saved with a 15 minute phone call. Not a bad return on my time, and I can feel good about saving a little money.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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