Darin has made a game out of saving money. Twice a year he sits down with his bills and tries to see how much he can save. Here’s his story.

Each year between Christmas and New Years Day, I sit down with my bills and undertake a Reduction Quest: my twice-yearly process (I also do it around the 4th of July) to contact service providers, and to look for opportunities to reduce my family’s costs. A phone call to customer service is generally all that is needed to review currently available specials, promotions, or price reductions that might have become available since the last check.

Some examples from my last Reduction Quest:

  • A three-minute call to my newspaper’s subscription line netted me yet another discount on the cost of my weekly paper delivery. (We get the Sunday paper for the coupons and sales ads). A Sunday paper in my community runs $1.50 at the rack ($78/year). Subscribing via a promotion last year dropped that to $30.58/year (59 cents a paper). My last Reduction Quest found a new promotion that will reduce the price yet again to $23.22/year (45 cents a paper). The Reduction Quest has dropped my newspaper subscription by more than 70%.
  • My former long-distance provider changed their plans all the time. I recently found that I was being billed a $3.95 monthly service charge plus $0.10 a minute for long-distance calls! My wife and I usually make long distance calls on the cell phone, but sometimes we forget. An average month with fifteen minutes of calls would cost us $5.45! A call to customer service yielded little in the way of savings, so I made a three-minute call to switch to another long-distance carrier which charges us no monthly fee plan and less than three cents a minute. Now our fifteen minutes of long-distance runs about 44
    cents a month, a Reduction Quest savings of over 90%. (Note: There was a charge from my phone company to change long distance providers, but that cost was made up in less than two months with the savings from the new company).
  • Customer loyalty is also a huge boost for a Reduction Quest. I recently called the pest control company that sprays the exterior of my home on a monthly basis. (I don’t like the idea, but the area we live in is teaming with creepy-crawlies.) I asked about available specials, etc. At first, the customer service rep indicated that the price I was paying for the service had not changed since I had started with them nearly three years ago (which was already saving me nearly 30% from today’s prices). I asked if they had any customer loyalty programs and she responded by giving me a $55 credit on my next bill.

These are just a few examples of many reductions I have netted for my family’s monthly bills. Take an hour or so to go through your own bills, and start your own Reduction Quest. You might reduce the APR on a credit card, lower the monthly charges on a recurring bill, gain a one-time credit or bonus, or maybe even a combination of all of the above!

If you have a Reduction Quest success story, please post it in the comments!

What I’d like to see is an actual step-by-step process a person uses to ask for a price break. Do you simply call up and say, “Is there anything you can do to save me money on this bill?” Look for two additional “ask to save” stories later today.

This article is about Odds and Ends, Real-Life