7 June, 2019

Streamline Your Monthly Bills

Are you paying for products or services you don’t fully utilize, on a monthly or otherwise recurring basis? As part of your retirement planning, you may want to review what you’re paying to your various service providers to see if you can save money by getting better rates or choosing a different product or service packages that better fit with your current lifestyle.

A) Analyzing your bills

A good first step is to sit down with all your important financial statements and bills, including statements from any bank accounts that you use for pre-authorized deductions. Hard copies can give you a better birds-eye view of all your spending. Try to include records that go back three months or more.

With all this information laid out, you can more easily identify your recurring expenses (phone, cable, service fees, etc.). Consider expenses that can be eliminated. This can include subscriptions to publications or online services you rarely use, high-end data plans or other cellphone services you don’t need or expenses for an additional vehicle you rarely drive.

B) Reducing your telecom costs

According to Statistics Canada, Canadians spend approximately $2,399 a year on average on telecommunications services, including basic phone service, cellphones, Internet and cable.1 If you want to bring your costs down to the right side of that figure, you might be able to leverage your existing relationship with your telecom services provider for a better deal. Even if you don’t want to change your provider, you can use your provider’s customer retention goals to help you save money.2

  1. Review your telecom bills and do some research into competitors’ offers. This will put you in a more confident position to discuss your costs. Keep a pen and paper handy.
  2. Phone the customer services department of your telecom provider. When you reach a representative, simply state that you are a long-time customer and find that your bills are too high. Ask the representative if there are any ways to lower your costs.
  3. You might actually get an offer for a better deal at this point. If you don’t feel like negotiating further, you can accept it with thanks and go to the last step. If you’re not happy, escalate.
  4. Ask that your call be escalated to customer retention. When you get through, approach the retention agent the same way that you approached the customer service representative. Often these agents have additional deals they can offer. It’s a good idea to mention better deals their competitors are offering.
  5. If you accept an offer, make sure you document important information such as the terms of your deal and the name of the representative or agent. If you don’t get a good offer, have notes on your call left on your account and try again another day.

C) Saving money on your financial services

Financial institutions also prioritize customer retention. Furthermore, if you are past or approaching retirement age, often new products are made available to help you make your financial transactions more cost-effective.

  1. Bank accounts and credit cards: Banks often offer different account structures for seniors, which include paper statements, lower-to-no monthly fees and some increased service levels. Similarly, some credit card programs offer lower-to-no annual fees for customers who reach a certain age. However, these discounts can sometimes come at the price of higher costs for other transactions, such as fewer included e-transfers or non-bank ATM uses.
  2. Insurance: There may be ways to reduce your insurance costs without compromising the security of your health, property and finances. You might consider raising some of your deductibles in exchange for lower premiums, particularly if you feel the probability of you filing a claim is low and/or you have the ability to pay for any smaller claims out of pocket. Some auto insurance companies offer discounts to older Canadians, and you might find additional savings by bundling your various insurance products together, with either your current provider or a competitor.

Whether you’re a retiree or pre-retiree, evaluating and trimming your recurring spending can be an essential part of your financial plan, potentially saving you money while also giving you important insights into both your necessary and discretionary expenses.

1 Statistics Canada, Household spending, Canada, regions and provinces, Table: 11-10-0222-01, 2013–2017.

2 Jon Stone, “Deal or No Deal? Use This Script to Negotiate Easy Savings on Your Cell Phone Plan,” cellphones.ca.