Anyone paying the bills in their household knows that talk is anything but cheap. Cell phones and land lines can cost a pretty penny. Add your bills for Internet service and cable TV, and your telecom costs can quickly go through the roof.
We've collected eight tips to help you hang up on high prices. We've laid out our list in text format below, or you can check them out in our slide show. Plus, you can share your favorite ways to save in our reader comment box at the end of this article.
Bunch your services and save some green. For about $100 a month, you can get cable or satellite TV, local and long-distance telephone service, plus high-speed Internet service. This is often cheaper than it would cost for each service separately.
In addition to paying just one bill, you have just one company to call if you have a technical or billing issue. See Save a Bundle on Telecom Services to learn more.
Save on your long-distance bill and chat via computer with free software from Skype.com. You won't pay a dime for any call to another Skype user. You can call non-users' landlines, too, for about $3 a month. Sure beats the $15 to $25 fee for a typical no-frills land line.
Or consider other low-cost Internet phone services such as Vonage. It comes with more perks such as voice-mail, caller ID and call waiting and costs $25 per month for free unlimited local and long-distance calls.
The average wireless-phone user spends about $60 a month, including taxes and fees. If you talk for 200 or fewer minutes per month, you may save by switching to a prepaid plan charging 25 cents a minute or less.
Prepaid plans generally charge 10 cents to 60 cents a minute, and compatible phones cost as little as $20. Compare plans at www.myrateplan.com.
If you have a good cell-phone plan that you use almost exclusively, get rid of the dead weight on your finances and drop your land line. You could reclaim $20 to $50 or more each month.
Do you really need all those cable channels? Take a look at what you're paying for and what your family is actually using. Then trim accordingly. Dropping your premium channels, for example, is a good way to start saving.
You may even find you don't watch TV enough to justify the cost of your cable service. Consider dropping cable entirely and watching your favorite shows online or on DVD –- or reading a book.
Do you really need caller ID? Call waiting? Voice mail? Internet service on your cell phone?
Drop one or all of the extras and shave $5 to $50 off your bill each month.
This is a great way to keep phone costs under control when you've got a roommate. That way, you're sure to only pay for the long-distance calls you personally make. No more billing disputes. Calling cards may also save you money over the long-distance plan offered by your phone company.
At Costco, for example, you can buy a Verizon phone card with 700 pre-paid minutes for $20. That's 2.9 cents per minute.
With cutthroat competition among phone, cable and Internet providers, you can probably haggle your way to a better deal on your service.
Many of the best offers are for new customers, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking for the same deal, or at least one better than what you’re getting. You could always threaten to take your business elsewhere.
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