Save Money on Bills; Scripts to Negotiate Your Bills

There are many ways to save money on bills, but have you tried calling your provider and actually ASKING for a better deal? Here are the scripts I use to ask for better deals and prices.. feel free to use them!

I first came across the idea of a script to negotiate down your bills or get a better home loan rate when I read the Barefoot Investor – and they are brilliant. So, I have included the original script I read in my old dog-eared copy of the Barefoot Investor, along with the scripts that I use every year during my financial health check. Read on to check out exactly how I do it

CaptainFI is not a Financial Advisor and the information below is factual review information, not financial advice. This website is reader-supported, which means we may be paid by advertising on the site, or when you visit links to partner or featured sites. For more information please read my Privacy PolicyTerms of Use, and Financial Disclaimer.

compare bills, save money
Make sure you compare providers and current rates before you make the phone call to run the script!

Introduction to Negotiation scripts

Negotiating a lower bill, whether it’s for your Mortgage, internet, phone service, utilities, or any other recurring expense, can be achieved by having a respectful conversation with a customer service representative

Remember to be polite throughout the conversation – even if the negotiations don’t go as you hoped. Building a positive relationship with the customer service representative can increase the likelihood of a successful negotiation down the track. Also, be prepared to provide evidence of lower rates from competitors or to mention any loyalty or long-term customer benefits you might be eligible for.

The great thing about these scripts is that even if you run them and the person on the other line says no or isn’t receptive, you can always politely thank them for their time, hang up, and immediately call back and speak to one of the (likely) hundreds of other operators in the call center.

Modern call centers are huge, and it’s likely the next person will oblige – if not, after a couple of goes you can always escalate and ask to speak to a manager. And failing that, try calling back another day!

Barefoot Investor Scott Pape’s Script to Get a better Home loan rate

Scott’s script is legendary, and has been proven to work for countless people. I have used it twice to get a discount on my home loan! I also based pretty much all my negotiation scripts off his original bank script.

You: Hello, my account number is ______. I’ve been with you for ___ years, but I’ve applied to refinance with UBank. Their rate is ____ per cent, which is a full ___ per cent cheaper than you’re charging me. Given our longstanding relationship, I’d like you to match the offer — or send me the forms I need to switch to UBank.

Bank rep: One moment, please.

(You’re bluffing, of course. However, the bank’s sales team have strict targets, backed by incentives, that they have to meet — one of which is giving profitable customers discounts to stop them leaving.)

Bank rep: We can’t match the rate you have quoted. However, we understand you are a valuable customer, so we would like to offer you a 0.15 per cent discount.

You: That’s not good enough. I’ve already got conditional approval … so in order to stay I need at least a 0.5 per cent discount. Could you please speak to your supervisor? I’m happy to wait.

Bank rep (a full six minutes later): On reviewing your case, we can offer you that 0.5 per cent discount on your current rate.

You: Brilliant! Please send me an email confirming the new rate and confirming that it will be applied as of start of business tomorrow.

Scott Pape, the Barefoot Investor1

Captain FI’s script to get cheaper Energy bills (electricity / gas)

Before running the script, you should head online to The Australian government’s Energy Made Easy Website2 to compare energy prices and plans, as well as Energy.gov.au where you can read about how you can save money on household energy usage3.

You: Hello, my account number is ______. I’ve been with you for ___ years for Electricity/Gas, however, I am switching to (other provider) which I found on the Australian government Energy Made Easy online database. Their rate is ____ per day plus ___ per kWh of electricity / Mj of gas, which is ___ cheaper than you’re charging me, so I stand to save ____ per year. Given our longstanding relationship, I’d like you to match the offer or alternatively close my account as I will be switching providers.

Energy provider: One moment, please.

(It’s easier to stay with your current provider and bitch rather than switch, but its actually not that hard to switch and update your direct debits)

Energy provider: We can’t match the rate you have quoted. However, we understand you are a valuable customer, so we would like to offer you a (tiny) discount.

You: That’s not good enough. I’ve already spoken to the connection team from (other provider) and confirmed they can service my property and confirmed the Energy Made Easy rates are available for me, so in order to stay I need at least a _____ discount. Could you please speak to your supervisor? I’m happy to wait.

Sales rep manager (after an awkward wait): On reviewing your case, we can offer a: discount of ____ percent / to match the rate of ____ per day plus ___ per kWh of electricity / Mj of gas

You: Brilliant! Please send me an email confirming the new rates and confirming that it will be applied as of start of business tomorrow.

Captain FI’s script to get cheaper home internet

Before running the script, you should head online and google home internet plans and check out a few comparison sites. Whatever you do, don’t book through comparison sites as they often don’t include all of the products and heavily promote the suppliers with the largest affiliate offers or advertising spends to be featured. Just do it to get an idea of what home internet plans are currently costing and what service you get (i.e. a basic NBN15 unlimited plan suitable for one or two people is currently $50 per month, whereas faster and higher bandwidth services can be over double that). Once you have done 5 minutes or less of basic research and scribbled down the rates, you’re ready to call your ISP.

You: Hello, my account number is ______. I’ve been with you for ___ years for home internet , however I am switching to (other provider) which I saw advertised online. Their rate is ____ per month for an NBN15 / NBN 25 / NBN 50 plan, which is ___ cheaper per month than you’re charging me, so I stand to save ____ per year. Given our longstanding relationship, I’d like you to match the offer or alternatively close my account as I will be switching providers.

Internet provider: One moment, please.

(It’s easier to stay with your current provider and bitch rather than switch, but its not that hard to change providers and you can likely use the same modem with only a few days potential down time where you can tether from your phone hot spot if needed).

Internet provider:  We can’t match the rate you have quoted. However, we understand you are a valuable customer, so we would like to offer you a (tiny) discount.

You: That’s not good enough. I’ve already spoken to the connection team from (other provider) and confirmed my property is eligible, my current modem is suitable and the price is ___ per month, so in order to stay I need at least a _____ discount. Could you please speak to your supervisor? I’m happy to wait.

Sales rep manager (after an awkward silence): On reviewing your case, we can offer an NBN15 / NBN50 etc plan for ____ per month, inclusive of a discount of ____ per month

You: Brilliant! Please send me an email confirming the new rates and confirming that it will be applied as of start of business tomorrow.

Note – you should consider whether you need a separate internet plan, or if you can make use of cellular data on your phone plan if it’s large enough. Whilst I opt for a no-frills prepaid service sim card phone and a standalone unlimited home NBN package, I have many friends who travel frequently and use a shared cellular data plan that they can take with them – i.e. tethering from their phone hotspot or using a shared dongle such as a Nighthawk portable wifi router.

save money on bills
You might be surprised how much you can save with one simple phone call

Captain FI’s script to get cheaper insurance

There are a few ways you can get cheaper insurance, but before you go calling your insurance company, you should consider how much insurance you actually need. Personally, I only insure against things that can destroy me financially (like driving into a Lambo, or my house burning down). If you are financially savvy and have a decent emergency fund4, you can probably afford to raise your excess and in doing so ‘Self-insure5 this first portion (the higher excess) of any potential claims and save yourself a lot on the ongoing premiums.

Before running the script, you should head online and google insurance plans and check out a few comparison sites. Whatever you do, don’t book through comparison sites as they often don’t include all of the products and heavily promote the suppliers with the largest affiliate offers or advertising spends to be featured.

Most insurance companies actually are just a ‘brand’ that does marketing and sales, and they tend to all use the same (or similar) underwriters who are the large companies that essentially ‘buy up’ all the groups of insurance policies and manage the policy risks. Nevertheless, there are differences between them, so it’s worth going to a few different supplier websites and getting a customized quote (don’t worry – give them a throwaway phone number or name if you don’t want your personal details collected, you’re just gathering data at this point). Experiment with different factors like garaging type and mileage (for car insurance) to see how this changes your premiums, and some insurers will provide discounts if you provide a lot more personal information and how you use your car.

Whilst we are here, let’s take another lesson from old Barefoot and make sure we don’t automatically pay our insurance renewals each year – note it in the calendar and diary (and set a phone reminder so you don’t forget!), and when the time rolls around, a week or so prior to renewal date ring them up and run the script. You can read my article HERE on How to save money on Car Insurance.

You: Hello, my account number is ______. I’ve been with you for ___ years for (home / car / landlord / electric toothbrush) insurance. I would like to increase my excess to ($750 / $1000) per claim. How much will that reduce my annual premium?

Insurance provider: One moment, please.

Insurance provider: You will be able to save 20% by increasing your basic excess from $500 to $1000.

[For an average comprehensive policy that represents a saving of $100 to $200 per year. If you have an accident less than every 5 years, this is then a no brainer]

You: I can also see that you provide a 10 % discount for new customers, I would like to have that honored to my account, please.

Insurance provider: Sorry champ that’s only for new customers

You: Well, I have also received a quote from (insurance provider). Their rate is ____ per month for ___ of coverage, with an excess of _____, which is ___ cheaper per month than you’re charging me, so I stand to save ____ per year. They also have a ___ rating online. Given our longstanding relationship, I’d like you to match the offer or provide the 10% discount for new customers, or alternatively close my account on the renewal date.

Insurance provider: One moment, please. I need to talk to my supervisor

(It’s easier to stay with your current provider and bitch rather than switch, but its not that hard to change providers and you should stand to make at least around a $50 saving per year or more by switching providers – any less than that and it’s probably not worth the hassle).

Sales rep manager (after an awkward silence):  We can’t match the premium you have quoted, however, as we value your business we are able to apply the new customer discount of 10% for the first year, which would bring your premium below the competitor’s price for the first 12 months of the policy.

[You know that in 12 months when your renewal is due, you will ring up and challenge the price hike by running the script again, so you know this is a good deal]

You: Brilliant! Please send me an email of the new policy, confirming that it will be applied as of start of business tomorrow.

Note – you should consider whether you actually need any form of insurance, if in doubt you can always ask for help on the Facebook forums, or speak to a financial advisor who can clear up any questions you may have, give personal financial advice, or can provide you with a statement of financial advice.

negotiate your bills, insurance bills
If you don’t compare, try, ask for better deals and shop around, you may be stuck paying MUCH more than you need on monthly bills

Captain FI’s script to get a cheaper phone plan

Before running the script, you should head online and google ‘Cheapest sim only phone plans’ – you might be shocked at the good value you can get – for under $200 you can get a 12 month prepaid sim-only phone plan with Boost, which uses the Telstra 5G network6! If you have already finished your phone contract or paid off your phone, it is a no-brainer to switch to them immediately.

Keeping your old phone for a few years longer is a great way to save money, and if you are financially savvy with a strong emergency fund you don’t need handset insurance. Just a tough case (My pick is LIFEPROOF which you can FIND ON AMAZON Below).

Sale
LifeProof iPhone 11 FRĒ Series Case - BLACK, waterproof IP68, built-in screen protector, port cover protection, snaps to MagSafe
  • Compatible with iPhone 11
  • FRĒ: Built-in scratch protector is virtually invisible to the eye and touch; full access to buttons and controls - charge and sync through the USB port
  • Water and Snow Proof: Fully submergible to 66'/2 m for 1 hour; Sealed from snow, ice, dirt & dust particles - meets or exceeds IP-68 Ingress Protection Rating
  • Shock Proof: Withstands drops from 66'/2 m - meets or exceeds MIL STD 810F-516
  • Proper installation of a LifeProof product is important to successful use so please review the installation video and check the user manual to ensure correct installation Includes LifeProof 1-year limited warranty (see website for details)

If you are still in contract, you can try to run the script to get a cheaper plan. But before you do, make sure to google the current prices to understand just what is being offered in the market right now.

You: Hello, my mobile number is ______. I’ve been with you for ___ years for my phone service. I am looking to reduce my expenses and I see that (competing phone carrier) is offering unlimited call and text with 5G and 10/20/50/100 GB data per month plan for only ___ per month. My phone contract expires in a few months, so I would like you to match that plan or I will be switching when it expires

Phone carrier: One moment, please.

(It’s easier to stay with your current provider and bitch rather than switch, but it’s actually not that hard to switch and you can even keep your old number. Unfortunately, if you are in contract there is not much you can do unless they offer you something – they know you can’t switch but will try to entice you to re-sign for another 12/24 months or upgrade).

Phone carrier: We can’t match the competitor rate you have quoted since you are currently in contract, but if you’d like to upgrade we can offer you a discount on the newest iPhone/Samsung/Google Pixel with handset insurance and an extra 10 GB of data for only an extra $29 per month to your current plan for a total of $89 per month for the next 24 months.

You: That’s not good enough. My contract will expire next month and I am more than happy with my current phone and don’t need handset insurance or extra data. I see that Boost Mobile is offering a 12-month prepaid sim on the Telstra 5G network with 250GB of data for $200 – which works out monthly to be 21 GB of data for $16 per month. So in order to stay I need at least a _____ discount to match this. Could you please speak to your supervisor? I’m happy to wait.

Phone carrier: One moment, please.

Sales rep manager (after an awkward wait): Sorry, we can’t match Boost’s Prepaid prices. They are the lowest price in the industry for the 5G network and make money by providing no-frills service in mass.

You: Thanks for your honesty, please make a note that I will be switching to Boost next month and porting my number to their prepaid service. I will call you when my contract expires after I have ported my number to confirm my account has been closed. 

save money on bills, woman on phone
Saving money on monthly bills can make a big difference to your overall living expenses on an annual basis.

Captain FI’s script to negotiate your rent

Ramit Sethi suggests you follow 5 rules when it comes to rent negotiation and I think they are pretty sensible;

  1. Know what you wany before starting the conversation with your landlord
  2. Offer your landlord something in return
  3. Know when to negotiate
  4. Use a script to make it easier
  5. Practice in a low-stakes enviornment first

My take on these rules is that before running the script, you need to understand your current rental contract (specifically when it expires, and what the rules regarding rental increases are – they may be capped) and you also need to check out your local area to determine what the fair market rent is. You can use tools like

to compare similar properties and get an idea. Once you know what a fair market value is, you need to set your realistic Anchor point – in this context, it means you probably want to ask for slightly below market rent (perhaps 10%), so that during the negotiation you can go up and settle on a rent that you are happy with and is fair. However rent isn’t the only thing that you could negotiate on – depending on where you live, you might also consider asking for things like;

  • A parking space (or additional parking spaces)
  • A storage unit, cage or area
  • Packaging utilities into the rent (I did this with my internet, electricity, water, and gas in my Sydney apartment)
  • Gardening or cleaning services
  • Reducing your bond

Next, you want to consider all of your strengths as a tenant so you can start the conversation on a positive note and have other desirable things to highlight or offer to your landlord. For example;

  • Do you always pay the rent in Advance? You could offer to pay one month (or more) in advance – but be careful about going as high as 6 or 12 months in advance leaves you with lost opportunity costs (such as you could have paid down debt or invested it), and also leaves you vulnerable to poor treatment (i.e. poor maintenance or even having to chase the money if you get evicted).
  • Are you prepared to extend the lease? For example for a further 12 months. Tenant turnover costs landlords thousands of dollars.
  • Can you offer to extend the vacation notice period from the state minimum? For example, 60 days to 90 days?
  • Do you always keep the property in a clean, neat, and tidy condition with no junk?
  • Are you single, a couple with no kids, have no pets, or don’t smoke? This all means less wear and tear and less risk for the landlord
  • Do you have a stable, high-income, professional job? Does your partner also? This means less risk of defaulting on the rent
  • How often do you put in maintenance requests? Are you able to fix small things around the house? Do you report defects so the house can be repaired before the defects get any worse or cause damage? Do you look after the house? Have you ever damaged anything?
  • Do you maintain the gardens and outdoor areas well?
  • Could you give back areas such as a storage space or parking area which the landlord could use or rent to someone else?
  • Would you be willing to have a house-mate and let the landlord rent out one of the rooms?

Next, consider any weaknesses or downsides of the property which would reduce the market rental value, which you can use to your advantage to negotiate the rent down

  • What is the general state of repairs of the house and its features? Does everything work?
  • Is it old, outdated, or in need of maintenance or renovation?
  • What is the outdoors like (gardens, landscaping)? Does money need to be spent here?
  • What features should the property really have that it doesn’t? Screendoors, Curtains, Heating/Cooling?
  • What is happening in the local area? What are the crime statistics? Are you considering moving to be somewhere safer?
  • What are the local amenities (shops, schools, parks etc)? Would you want to move somewhere more desirable?

You need to realistically evaluate all of these things, understand your landlords’ motivations, and what value you provide to the transaction as a renter to successfully negotiate down your rent. You need to pick your battles too, as timing and market conditions will determine your landlords’ appetite to negotiate – obviously, during a rental crisis they are going to have lines a mile long wanting to inspect and rent a property, so you won’t have much luck.

I have noticed here in Australia, the best time to successfully negotiate is about 3 months before your rental contract expires, and ideally around mid-year in winter time (most people seem to change houses in the summer period at the end of the year so there will be more competition then).

The Script:

You: Hello [Landlord], this is [Your name] your tenant from [Property address].

Landlord: Hello

You: Hope you are well, I am calling to discuss the rent for [Property address]. It’s been great living here for [amount of time] and I have always taken care of the property treating it like my own, and always paid my rent in advance. I always report defects as soon as I find them and am able to carry out minor repairs myself with your approval. As you have probably noticed I am an ideal tenant.

Landlord: Ok….

You:  I also wanted to bring up that the property currently is in need of [renovation / curtains / heating or aircon / landscaping / new carpet / new oven / dishwasher etc]

Landlord: Get to the point….

You: I have been researching properties in the local area, and I found [a number] of comparable [or better] properties advertised for rent for [10% a week less than my current rent]. Given my being an ideal tenant, and the outstanding work needed on the property, would you consider matching this market rate?

Landlord: I don’t think we can do that because [excuse]

You:  I’ve been a great tenant and would hate not to renew my lease but I am willing to. What can you do for me?

Landlord: Sorry champ, we are experiencing a housing crisis and interest rates keep rising so my mortgage is skyrocketing and its hurting my cashflow. I’m actually going to increase the rent 20% at the end of your lease and if you don’t like it there’s a long line of people desperate to take your place as tenants.

Obviously, the last line is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but honestly, thats probably the response you would get at the moment. It is definitely still worth a try, as landlords definitely want tenants to renew their leases rather than pay thousands in tenant turnover costs and have their place sit empty. Hopefully, they would be willing to negotiate and meet you somewhere in the middle – perhaps a 5% rent reduction. Remember to consider bringing up other terms (such as parking spaces) and other things you are prepared to do in return (such as extend the lease), as well as even just directly asking your landlord what they would like or what they value. Follow up your phone calls in writing with a polite and succinct email.

Negotiating consumer debt repayments

Whilst many on the path to FI tend to avoid consumer debt (car loans, credit cards or personal loans) like the plague, it is definitely not uncommon to have consumer debt, and paying this off is a crucial part of your Financial Independence journey. You can actually negotiate your debt and debt repayments, EVEN if its at the stage of debt collection (Here is a great resource on dealing with debt collectors)7.

Generally when it comes to consumer debt, if your loan is secured by collateral (i.e. a car loan), if you default then it is likely the creditors will take the collateral (i.e. repossess the car) as well as take legal action to recover the difference and settle the debt. So in the case of a car loan, it is best to try and negotiate early for a rate reduction or apply for debt relief if it looks like you might not be able to afford the payments and default. You should seriously also consider selling the car and downgrading to a cheaper model or a bicycle! You could use a script similar to the one above for reducing your mortgage repayments (just beware with higher interest rates, refinancing for a longer loan period will cost you a lot more in the long run). Ideally, you want a car loan GONE.

Negotiating Credit Card debt

For unsecured loans such as credit cards and personal loans (which have crazy interest rates to compensate creditors for the additional risks), its going to be much easier to negotiate for a reduced payment or interest rate. Negotiating a credit card debt might sound scary, but if you speak to your creditor early and roughly use the same style of conversation as the script above for your mortgage, you may be able to lower your interest rate. Just be aware refinancing to a lower minimum repayment and paying off the minimum can drastically increase the time it takes to pay off your debt and the total amount you pay.

If you can’t pay (and you default on the debt) the lender can basically only do three things – Sell the debt to a debt collection agency, commence legal action to get a court judgement and sue for nonpayment, and trash your credit score.

Realistically, if you default they will most likely do option 1 and 3, since legal action is costly. Most creditors will agree to negotiate the debt down or set up alternate payment plans to avoid the hassle and expense of doing all 3.

If you think you are at risk of default, or the debt is getting overwhelming then your first step should be to speak to a financial counselor – call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 and ask to speak to financial counselor. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) also has a great webpage here with helpful resources to help when you’re in debt8.

They should help you through the following tasks to negotiate your debt repayments;

  • Confirm how much you owe, your financial situation and if there are any court judgements
  • Work out what options you can take – for example debt settlement, payment plan, hardship agreement or debt dispute
  • Call your creditor or bank
  • Outline your position and terms
  • Take detailed notes and get the agreement in writing

After speaking to a counselor you ideally will have come up with a plan to pay off your debt – either by a debt settlement agreement, payment plan, hardship agreement or debt dispute.

For example, if you owe $10,000 in credit card debt, a bank may accept an application for debt relief and accept a debt settlement for a one-time lump-sum payment of $5,000. When you consider that a bank may only be paid 20c in the dollar by a debt collection agency, you can see that in this case they are recovering a further $3,000 by entering into a debt settlement rather than taking legal action and selling the debt. Just expect this to be a long and drawn-out process where they will try and recover as much of the original debt as possible – most debt settlements are between 30 to 50 percent of the original debt if paid upfront.

An alternative to a debt settlement is a payment plan or workout agreement, which is essentially a payment plan where the creditor lowers your interest rate or may even waive interest altogether. A workout agreement might look like making 8 x monthly interest-free repayments of $1000, for a total of $8,000 (as opposed to the $10,000 balance).

You could also apply for a hardship agreement which may be an option if you have been involved in an accident, there is a death in the family, an unexpected illness or you lose your job. On compassionate grounds, the creditor may reduce your interest rate, waive fees, reduce your minimum payment or even freeze repayments for a certain period of time. Generally, the expectation is that after you have had some time to get back on your feet, you will resume payment of the debt in full.

Finally, you can dispute the debt – this is generally if there is a mistake and its not your debt, you have already paid the debt, or if the debt is over six years old and no court judgement has been made against you.

In any case, you should also expect that your credit score may likely go down, and this will damage your ability to do things like get a car loan or even apply for certain jobs that have security clearance requirements (such as in Aviation or working at airports).

Summary

Half an hour Google searching and a few minutes on the phone can save you a lot of money, so don’t make the mistake of just continuing to pay your bills when they arrive, if you haven’t tried to get a better deal, or at least compared what other providers are offering.

Food costs and grocery bills account for a large portion of household spending so you can read my article HERE on making a grocery budget.

Have a think about other places you are spending money – streaming services, food delivery services, online subscriptions and evaluate whether these can be negotiated or cut all together. Check your savings account or transaction account for any direct debit arrangements you have and assess whether you still need those or not.

Saving money on monthly bills can make a big difference to your overall living expenses on an annual basis.

Have you ever tried to run scripts similar to these to get the best deal on bills? How much did you save? Let me know in the comments.

Reference List:

  1. https://www.barefootinvestor.com/
  2. Find the right energy plan for you, Energy Made Easy. Accessed online at https://www.energymadeeasy.gov.au/ on April 21, 2023.
  3. Switch to save, Energy.gov.au. Accessed online at https://www.energy.gov.au/households/Find-the-best-energy-deal on April 21, 2023.
  4. Save for an emergency fund, MoneySmart.gov.au. Accessed online at https://moneysmart.gov.au/saving/save-for-an-emergency-fund#:~:text=An%20emergency%20fund%20is%20money,to%20you%20or%20your%20family on April 21, 2023.
  5. Self-Insure: Definition, Examples, Pros & Cons, Will Kenton, Investopedia. Published: Sep 15, 2021. Accessed online at https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/self-insure.asp on April 21, 2023.
  6. 5G Coverage FAQs, Boost Mobile. Accessed online at https://boost.com.au/blogs/help-topics/5g-coverage-faqs on April 21, 2023.
  7. https://fair-debt-collection.com/disputing-collections/phone-script.html
  8. https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/debt/help-when-youre-in-debt
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