stretchingcents

How to save on your phone, cable & internet

There are plenty of websites and lists of ways to save on your bills, but I decided to write a list of tips that will actually save you money.  They are all things I have learned from experience and have saved us bunches of money.  I understand every situation is different, and each family has their own needs, but here is some things that have worked for us. At the end, I’ll show a breakdown of my current bills.

1) Do you really need it?

  • Home Phone– If you have a cell phone, do you really need a land-line phone?  We kept one for several years because we didn’t want to give out our cell phone to businesses or  to my students at the time.  When we kept track of how many people actually called our home phone, we realized what a waste of money it was!  We saved about $17 a month by canceling. So far, I haven’t had that many extra calls on my cell phone, so no regrets there.
  • Cell Phone- How much data do you really need? There are 4 people sharing our plan (3 smartphones) and we share 6 GB of data a month.  We have never ever gone over.  In fact, there are 5 days left in this billing cycle and we have only used 3.85 GB. Yes, there are MANY unlimited plans, but do you REALLY need that much? Could you connect to wifi? Could you use your phone less?
  • TV- This can be a touchy subject!  Totally getting rid of the TV is not an option right now for our family, but we have learned to live with very few channels.  A few years ago we were looking for ways to cut our bills and decided it was time to cut the TV package we had.   I “need” (ok not really) the local news and weather and we really like having a few kid choices. When I called to say we wanted only the local channels they said there was no such package, but when I said I would be canceling, they told me about a few unadvertised  packages.  We decided to try it for a month, and if we REALLY missed our channels we would switch back.  We did miss our channels but realized it was only because we were watching way to much TV to start with, and decided to just watch less TV.  I would challenge you to cut the TV totally off for one week….you’ll be amazed at how much you will get done!

2)  Ask about unadvertised deals

  • Companies always have unadvertised bundling packages.  Like I mentioned above, until I threatened to cancel, they said they didn’t have what I wanted.  Be  sure to make it very clear what you want, and let them know you will change companies if they can’t give you what you want.
  • Comcast also offers a few random discounts if you talk to the right person.  We currently have a discount of $10 a month simply because I talked to the right person and they said they could give me a discount because we used such a small tv package (???). It is listed on the bill as an extra “Bundled Services” discount.

3) Compare Companies

  • If you are stuck in a contract, it usually will not make sense to switch companies, but as soon as you can, you should shop around.  We used to have Direct TV, and had really poor reception at our house, so as soon as we could, I called comcast to see what kind of deal I could get.  Everyone likes honesty, so I was honest with them and said basically “this is what I have with Direct TV, I pay ____ each month, can you do better?”  Of course they wanted my business and gave me a better deal. I then called Direct TV, and said “Comcast can offer me _____ for ___ price.  Can you do better?”  And again…of course they could!  They offered to take  about $40 off my bill each month for 3 months, which was an amazing deal!  I kept Direct TV for 3 extra months, then called Comcast again and said the same thing.  Direct TV couldn’t match Comcast’s price, so we switched!

4) Check your bill EVERY month!

  • This seems like an obvious tip, but I’m sure people miss mistakes companies make on their bills ALL the time.   These mistakes I usually find are weird charges on my cell phone bill, charges for extra cable boxes, late charges when we paid early, being taxed extra because we were listed as living in the wrong county, not getting discounts I was promised, and the list goes on.  One month I found over $25 in errors on my cell phone bill!

5) Remember no one likes a grouchy person- and ask for discounts!

  • If something is wrong, its up to the company to make it right.  The biggest thing to remember is that no one wants to help a grouchy person though!  No matter how mean and rude the person on the other end of the phone is, be nice and I promise you will get what you want!  Here is how a conversation went with Comcast once:

Me: I called 3 weeks ago to get our new cable box and it still hasn’t arrived.  Can you check to see when it will come?
Comcast: I see you called last month, it was never ordered.
 Me: I understand this is not your fault, could you please re-order it?
Comcast: Yes (with a sigh that made me feel like I was asking for a HUGE favor)
Me: Since we have been without TV in that room for 3 months while we have been waiting for our box to be repaired, and then a new one sent, could you give me a discount?
 Comcast: No we don’t do that kind of thing.
Me: Thank you for being so helpful already, are you sure there isn’t anything you can do for me?
Comcast: Actually, I can go ahead and credit you $20, will that make things right?

See how easy that is!  Throw in a few compliments, and ask more than once in a very nice way, and you can almost always get $$ taken off your bill.  I never ask for anything outrageous, only what I think is fair.

6) Ask for Job related discounts

  • Teachers get 15% off with Verizon.  I think nurses can also get this discount, and a few other professions.  It never hurts to ask!

Here is what we are currently paying:

Verizon (cell phone): I share a phone plan with my husband, Mom and Dad.  We have been sharing a plan for year because for a long time it didn’t financially make sense for my Mom to have her own plan when she didn’t use her cell phone much.  Now all of us except for my Dad has smart phones, but we still come out ahead sharing a plan. Here’s the  breakdown of a typical monthly bill:

  • Plan for 4 phones: $59.50
  • Smartphone 1 (device, access fee, taxes, warranty): $35.58
  • Smartphone 2 (device, access fee, taxes, warranty): $37.92
  • Smartphone 3( device, access fee, taxes, total equipment coverage*): $48.69
  • Phone 4 (access fee, taxes): $24.18

Cell phone bill total: 209.87 (Split 4 ways so we only pay about $120 a month)

*We pay for full coverage on my husbands phone because after hitting it with the lawn mower, bulldozing it at the dump, and just this month dropping it down a chimney….its totally worth it 🙂

Cable/Internet Bill:

  • TV (Limited Basic Service): $15.31
  • Internet (Performance Internet): $61.95
  • Taxes and other charges: $9.19
  • Discounts: -$10.00

Total: $76.45

 

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Mushroom Meatloaf Muffins and Semi-homemade Veggie Casserole

The picture for this meal isn’t so great…I promise it is really yummy!  I got the idea for Meatloaf Muffins from someone at some bible study a while ago and I can’t remember who made them! Sorry if it was you!  My semi-homemade veggie casserole came out of a craving for broccoli casserole, but I didn’t have all the ingredients.  I combined a box of Betty Crocker Scalloped Potatoes with a few other things and ended up with a SUPER yummy side dish.  I really messed up on the timing of this dinner and my muffins were done about 20 minutes ahead of the veggies, so be sure to make your veggies first.  (also- I lost track of time on how long I actually cooked the casserole because Tommy starting walking and I HAD to take a video!!)

Semi- Homemade veggies Casserole – serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 box of Betty Crocker Scalloped Potatoes (has potatoes and cheese sauce powder)
  • 2 cups  hot water
  • 1 tbs melted butter
  • 2 cups of veggies (I used a broccoli and cauliflower mix)
  • 2 tbs mayo
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • about 2 handfuls of bread crumbs

To Make:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425
  2. Spray a 2 qt baking dish nonstick spray
  3. Combine everything but the veggies and potatoes in the casserole dish.  Stir until everything is blended
  4. Add potatoes, then veggies.  Be sure all the potatoes are in liquid so they don’t stay hard.
  5. Top with bread crumbs (cheese would be yummy on top too)
  6. Bake for about 30-40 mins

Mushroom Meatloaf Muffins- serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 handfuls of bread crumbs (I used the heals of bread torn apart that I keep in the freezer)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp onion flakes
  • 1 tbs ketchup
  • 1 can of mushroom stems and pieces with liquid drained

To Make:

  1. Pre-Heat oven to 425
  2. Combine everything in a bowl making sure it is well blended. ( My bare hands seem to work best for this)
  3. Spray 8 muffin cups of a muffin pan with non-stick spray
  4. Gently press the meat mixture into the 8 muffin cups
  5. Bake about 15 minutes- until top and edges start to get crispy.  You may want to check one with a fork to be sure it is cooked all the way through.
  6. I like to dab my muffins with a paper towel  to get rid of the extra grease.
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Weekend Coupon Preview for 2/5

Here is a preview of the coupons that should be in the weekend paper.  I am planning on buying 3 papers this week.

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Cheap Diapers at Target! Get this coupon fast!

It looks like this is a good week for diapers at Target!  They are running a deal where if you buy 2 big boxes of Pampers or Huggies you get a $15 target gift card back.  Combine that with 2 $3.00 coupons from the 1/08 Walmart coupon insert, and 2 $5.00 coupons from Target (click on the “bodega” banner at top) and you should have a pretty good deal.  I would print the target coupon fast before they are all gone.  I think the total will be:

29.99 a box, so 2 for 59.89

– 2 $3.00 coupons

– 2 $5.00 coupons

– $15 gift card

= $28.98 for 2 big boxes or 14.49 each!  I’m almost 100% sure this is cheaper than any store brand!

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Weekend Coupon Preview 1/29

This week I actually bought 4 papers.  I’m thinking I’ll be able to get some free Mars candy and CVS as Valentines gets closer, and maybe some free toothpaste and Cascade.  Here’s the link so you can see what inserts should be in the paper this week.

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Cheap Crocs and a CVS moneymaker

I just ordered the shoes above from crocs.com for only 15.99 and go free shipping! Here’s how you can do.  Sign up for Ebates by going to ebates.com  (say you were referred by zackandcarrie@gmail.com)  If you haven’t signed up before you can get a $10 gift card to ebates.com which will give you even cheaper shoes! (You can also select a gift card to somewhere else).  Using ebates will give you 5% cash back at crocs this weekend, plus when you checkout enter promo code FRIENDS for 20% off and fallship for free shipping!!

If you get a chance to make it to CVS today there are a couple of moneymakers!

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Coupon Preview and a few freebies

Freebies:

 

Weekend Coupon Preview  I’ll be getting 3 papers like always!

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When couponing doesn’t go as planned….

Not every week has amazing coupon deals, and not every shopping trip will go as planned.  This week  despite my great plan of getting some awesome freebies, I ended up with nothing photo worthy.  One thing many coupon sites, or even shows like extreme couponing, don’t show very often is that stores are often out of the products you want!  Here’s how my shopping trips have gone:

CVS- The coupon machine didn’t print the tampon coupon that had been advertised, so no free tampons.  Then the $0.99 greeting cards that were buy 3 get $3 were incredibly picked over and I wasted a good amount of time reading a bunch of cheesy cards.  After 15 minutes I finally realized “Why am I being so picky! They are FREE!” and left with some semi cute thank you cards.

Walmart- They were out of the bic pens, and sponges that were supposed to be free.  I needed some push pins, and wandered all the school supply aisles and never found them. Then I did get my Brita water filter on sale for $8.97 with a $10 rebate…but when I got home is was cracked! And I forgot to pick up milk!  Today I went back to Walmart, exchanged the Brita filter, got my milk and then the biggest disappointment….they had the pens in stock but I left my coupons in the car! The only thing that kept me from getting totally frustrated was that two days in a row I got the best parking spots ever!!

Anyway- my point is that for every few good couponing weeks you have, you will also have some that feel like a waste of time.  One thing most people don’t take advantage of are rain checks though.  Whenever a store is out of something you want and its on sale, be sure to ask for a rain check.  I do that at CVS almost every week.  Most rain checks are good up to a month, and if you get a really nice sales clerk they will sometimes even let you use an expired coupon if it would have been good when you originally tried to buy the item.

 

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What I plan to buy this week…

This week I thought I would do a quick post about some of the deals I plan on getting.  Hopefully you will have a chance to organize your coupons and get some free stuff too!

Walmart: Everything here is a moneymaker, but be sure to buy something else because the register can’t ring up a negative total

  • Brita water pitchers on sale for $8.97 plus $10 mail in rebate There was supposed to be a $4.00 coupon in this weeks inserts, but I don’t think they were in the Daily New Record.  You can still make money off this deal though!
  • Scotch Brite bathroom sponge.  On sale for $0.97 and use $1.00 off coupon.  This turns out to be a .03 profit
  • Bic Stationary Crystal Pens 10 ct on sale for 0.97 and use $1.00 off from 1/08 smart source insert
  • Oral B Floss Essentials 55 yd on sale for $0.97 and use $1.00 off from 1/01 P&G insert

Kroger:

  • Barilla Pasta- $1.00 and use .55 of 1 from 1/08 smartsource
  • Brawny Paper Towels single roll $1 and use $1.00 printable coupon (like them on facebook)

CVS:

  • Buy (3) Hallmark Greeting Cards $.99 each Get $3 ECB wyb (3)
  • RepHresh Brilliant PH Tampons $6.49.  Get $2 ECB (limit 1). Use $4/1 RepHresh Brilliant Tampons, (CVS coupon machine at front of store), and use $1.00 off printable

 

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Weekend Coupon Preview

Looks like there will only be 1 coupon insert this week.  I still plan on getting 3 papers for the Brita, Edge, and Olive Oil coupons.  See my previous post on how the Brita coupon can be a $5.00 moneymaker, and if you spend $1.50 on 3 papers, you will still come out ahead.

Sunday Coupon Preview

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