Far too often we receive a bill in the mail and stress over how to pay it! We assume that the company sending the bill has complete control over the terms of payment. This is a common mistake made by consumers. We forget that, if you are in receipt of a bill, you are a customer. Therefore, you have the power to review, question and in many cases dictate the terms of payment.
With this being the start of a new year, it is the perfect time to review the 2016 billing statements, contracts and new promotions of your creditors. Take the time to read the small print and the details of the bill. Most consumers will overlook this information. This is where you will find your savings. Creditors are required to notify you in writing of changes, discounts and benefits that you may qualify for. However, they are not obligated to promote nor mention it to you during a phone call.
Remember, you are the customer. It is in the best interest of the creditor to keep your business. Here are five ways to negotiate your budget:
- Loan Payment: Most lenders will allow you to make an interest only payment or even skip a payment once a year. This is only offered, if you’ve had the loan for more than one year.
- Promotions: Utility and Cable companies consistently offer promotions. Taking advantage of a new promotion every six to twelve months will result in lower monthly payments.
- Credit Cards: If you’ve had a credit card for more than twenty-four months, ask for a lower interest rate to decrease the monthly payment. Credit card companies also offer monthly payment plans. This will allow you to remain in good standing, while you get back on track. If your credit card company doesn’t have a plan you qualify for, contact a consumer credit counseling service such as Apprisen.
- Bartering: Get to know the people you speak to everyday. Don’t be shy about offering your skilled professional service in exchange for a service that you need. As an example, if you own a lawn care business you may consider offering lawn care service to your barber in exchange for free haircuts.
- Power Payment System: There are times when the money just isn’t there! During these times you have to prioritize. Once you’ve taken care of your living and housing expense, you now need to budget your other creditors. The best way to do this is by determining the amount of money that you can afford to spend towards paying down bills. You then divide that amount by the number of bills you have. Continue to use this method until you’ve paid off an account. Then use the additional money to increase the amount that you pay to the remaining creditors.
Example: $100.00/4 creditors: each will receive $25.00
(After one creditor is paid in full)
$100.00/3 creditors: each will receive $ 33.33
(After second creditor is paid in full)
$100.00/2 creditors: each will receive $ 50.00
Continue this method until you are paying $100.00 per month to the final and largest bill. You will find that you are becoming debt free without the stress of spending money you don’t have. After you’ve paid down your debts, allocate this money into a savings account!
It is important to understand that you are in control of your own finances. You owe it to yourself to ask for the discount, determine how and with whom your money is spent and to negotiate a budget that you can afford!