After the TSP, I invest my money in Betterment and Vanguard. I track all of my investments with Personal Capital. I also wrote a short, 2 hour book summarizing this site. You can buy it here.
I love Reddit.com because it shows the power of the “wisdom of the crowd.” Anyone can post anything they want and the users of the site vote content up and down, based on whether they like it or not. This allows the best content to float to the top and trolls and poor content sinks into oblivion, never to be seen by the average viewer.
Three days ago a Reddit user posted the following to the Frugal subreddit:
Called Time warner asking them to lower my bill because it was “just too high”… And it worked! Just had to be persistent. $49.99 down to $29.99 just for asking (and name dropping a competing company) 🙂 – http://redd.it/15izkp
Awesome! I love how easy it is to save money, usually just by asking for a better deal! I really wish haggling was still part of American consumer culture. Just about the only time you get to haggle is on big ticket items, like cars and houses. In other cultures (actually, just about everywhere English isn’t the first language), haggling and negotiating are just part of doing business.
Since the original poster didn’t provide any more details beyond that headline, I posted the following script I’ve used several times with Time Warner and other ISPs:
Use This Script to Lower Your Cable Bill
- TW: “Hello, thanks for calling Time Warner”
- Me: “Hi, I’m having trouble paying my bills and I was wondering if there are any promotions or special deals on service running in my area.”
- TW: “Let’s check…”
They may find you some deals and promotions and get your monthly bill lowered. I’ve had upgraded speed for free, a promotional rate applied for 6 months, and many other deals offered at this point in the conversation. If you get an offer that your happy with, take it! If they don’t offer anything…
- TW: “I’m sorry sir, there are no promotions running for you at this time.”
- Me: “Well in that case I’m going to have to cancel, I’m sorry.”
- TW: “I understand sir, but I’ll have to transfer you to one of our cancellation specialists”
Don’t be afraid saying the “c” word! Saying “cancel” can be scary, but usually it leads to good things for you.
This is the fun part. The first tier customer service reps at most organizations cannot process your cancel request, simply because they are not trained to do so. They will have to transfer you to the billing department or retention department. They are authorized to offer you upgrades (faster internet, more channels, Showtime, HBO) or deals like half off for 6 months.
- TW: “Mr. MilitaryMoneyManual, you are a valuable customer and we can offer you turbo boost for free for 6 months as well as a a 50% discount on your current service.
- Me: “Thanks, that sounds great! You provided excellent customer service today and you definitely kept a happy customer. (Just butter them up a bit, doesn’t hurt!)
ALWAYS, ALWAYS, be polite, courteous, and respectful. Acting like a dick never gets you anyways, it’s the wrong thing to do, and if you treat your customer service reps with a modicum of respect, they will usually appreciate that and hook you up with some good deals.
Again, don’t be afraid to threaten to cancel. Time Warner or any cable company wants to keep you as a paying customer and will usually offer a good deal to keep you around. If at any point they appear ready to process your cancellation request, just say “oh nevermind, I guess I will keep the service.” They called your bluff, try again another day.
Lowering Your Bill Success Stories
There were over 275 comments on that single post. Lots of people shared their experience, whether it was success or failure in getting their bill lowered. It was awesome seeing all the savings that was happening with a simple 5-10 minute phone call! The script works, just try it!
Lots of people also offered some more tricks and tips as well. Here’s some of the best comments (listed by username):
- Servernode recommends: “For starters don’t bother with even talking to the Tier 1 agent that picks up the phone when you call in; They don’t have access to the promos. Billing has some but where you want to get is to retentions. Threaten to cancel if you have to.”
- DarkSideofOZ says that you shouldn’t even ask for anything from the first rep you talk to, just say: “Yes, I’ve received a tempting offer from [insert competitor company here] and I was thinking about switching, can you please connect me with your retention department to see if they can match or beat this deal?”
2 Websites I Use to Achieve Financial Independence Faster
I have investment accounts all over the place. To keep track of all of them in one place I use Personal Capital. It combines all of my accounts, shows me where I may be overpaying in fees, and provides beautiful charts showing my overall asset allocation and performance.
I use Personal Capital to track my Roth and Traditional TSP, Vanguard IRAs, banking accounts, SDP, and my Betterment taxable account, all in one place. It's free, secure and presents me with a one-stop dashboard so I can see all my money on one site.
Read my full review of Personal Capital and see how easy it can be to manage your investments in one place. Trust me, once you try it, you'll love it.
P.S. - If you have over $100,000 of assets and a 401k, you really need to run the Personal Capital 401k Fee Analyzer.
The best way I know to achieve financial independence is to keep your investments simple, diversified, automatic, and low-cost. Costs eat into your returns like you wouldn't believe! A 1% difference in expense ratios can mean $100,000s lost to fees over a lifetime of investing.
Even if you're a DIY (do-it-yourself) investor like I am, you need to check out Betterment. You can read my full review here, but the bottom line is for only $250 per $100,000 invested (0.25% expense ratio) you get simple, diversified, and automated investing. In addition every account now gets free Tax Loss Harvesting+ features, which should increase returns for the average investor more than the minuscule management fee.
If you're not a DIY investor or are just getting started with investing, then you definitely need to check out Betterment. It's what I recommend to my family and friends who aren't strong investors or don't care to learn about asset allocations, diversification, or rebalancing.