Every year, I go visit the lady at my bank who arranged my mortgage. I don't invest with my bank, but I have my mortgage and line of credit with them, as well as a savings and chequing account. With even that little bit, we review the "service" I get with them, and look for ways to save me money. Every year, we've found a small way. Last year, I agreed to cut down my ATM transactions in exchange for a $5/month discount on my bank charges. This year, they knocked my interest rate down by 1/2 a percent.
About 3-4 months ago, I called the cable/internet/phone company and said that I needed to cut back on my expenses. I was thinking of moving over to their competitor, but wondered if they could match or beat the competitor's prices. I got a deal that saves me $40/month, but after a week or so, I realized that I missed some of the channels that I'd lost with the new package. I called again, was told that I could have them back on a trial basis for 3 months, and then would have to pay $10/month to keep them. Last week, the 3 months was up, and I reluctantly called to tell them that I wasn't going to pay to keep them. I liked these channels, but it wasn't worth the extra $10/month. Instead, the cable company agreed to let me keep them and knocked an additional $15/month off my bill. They said that they'd reworked their cable packages shortly after my last call to meet the market demands.
The moral of these stories? It's pays to ask for these things. Neither the bank nor the cable company volunteered these discounts, until I asked for them. It's admittedly a little hard on the ego to call companies out of the blue and ask for discounts - it kind of makes me feel like a pauper. But, I've got an extra $55/month in my pocket, just from the cable company. And 1/2% might not seem like much, but over the next couple of years, I have no doubt that it'll add up. That's worth a little embarrassment in my book any day.
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