In this second installment, savvy shopping guru, Jodi Furman, tells how three calls can cut your expenses. Check out last week’s article, where she covered calls one and two. Be prepared to save money!
Call 3: Insurance
- fabuLESS tip #1: Get Cut-Downs On Insurance Rates & Suppliers. Call both your home and auto insurance providers and ask for your declaration sheet (often referred to as a “dec” sheet). The dec sheet lists the exact coverage that you have for your vehicle/home. Common discounts for home insurance include a monitored burglar alarm, smoke detectors, storm shutters, or upgrades to your plumbing/electrical/heating. Be sure to mention any other upgrades that you’ve added since initially insuring your home.
- fabuLESS tip #2: Merge Your Home/Auto Insurance Provider. If you don’t already have your home and auto insured with the same provider, ask one provider what it would cost for both to be insured. Generally, you will see a discount of at least 5% and much as 20% for having both your home and auto with the same provider. Of course, compare the cost of having separate policies versus the discounted, bundled rate.
- fabuLESS tip #3: Mention Your Marital Status & Credit Score. Be sure to mention to both your home and auto providers if you’ve gotten married or widowed and ensure them that you’re neither under-insured nor over-insured and consider raising your deductible. Also, if your credit score has improved since applying for insurance, you might qualify for a better rate. Your credit score is often used as one factor for determining your premiums as well.
Call 4: Credit Cards
- fabuLESS tip #1: Lower Your APR. Call each of your credit card companies and simply ask for them to lower your APR (Annual Percentage Rate). Be sure to mention if you’ve been a long time and/or a good customer.
- fabuLESS tip #2: Transfer Balances. Contact the cards that you have a zero balance on, and ask if they have any promotional rates available for balance transfers. If the rates are lower than you are currently paying on another card, either transfer the balance and/or use that offer as leverage when negotiating with your other cards.
- fabuLESS tip #3: Negotiate a Settlement. If you’re unable to make your minimum payments, either ask for your credit limit to be raised (as that will lower your minimum payment), or as a very last resort, ask to negotiate a settlement. Although this will mar your credit, you can often settle a credit card debt for less than 50% of the amount owed, and pay it off in regularly scheduled payments.
Call 5: Mortgage
Your mortgage is less of a ‘quick fix’ than your cell phone, cable/internet, insurance or credit card – but since your mortgage is almost certainly your biggest expense, it’s surely one worth tackling.
- fabuLESS tip #1: Refinance With Low Closing Costs. If your existing mortgage rate is higher than current rates, call your current lender, and ask if you qualify for a streamlined refinance. Many lenders will offer existing customers the ability to refinance with lower closing costs – it might even be possible to simultaneously lower your payments and shorten the length of the loan. Currently 15 year fixed rates with excellent credit are hovering just below 4%. You can utilize this calculator (http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/mortgages/refinance-calculator.aspx) to determine how quickly the new loan, including closing costs, will pay off.
- fabuLESS tip #2: Ask For A Loan Modification. If you have an ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage) that has been reset and you can’t afford the new monthly payments, consider asking for a loan modification.
- fabuLESS tip #3: If Needed…Ask For a Forbearance of Postponement. If you have a temporary financial strain, ask your lender for forbearance, or a postponement, for a few months. Most importantly, contact your lender as soon as, if not before, you find yourself unable to pay your mortgage.
Bonus Phone Call(s):
Call and cancel any services that you’re not using whether that is your gym membership, your country club membership, or your premium cable channels. Cancel anything that you’re not using, even if there’s a cancellation fee. It’s much better to pay the one-time cancellation fee rather than pay for a service that you’re not using.
These PHONE CALLS will only take minutes of your time, and will save you thousands of dollars over the years! If you keep up with these tips every 6 months, you might catch some great promotions and new deals that can save you even more. You won’t know until you ask!