personal-finance

Ways to cut red tape and save money

Nov. 8, 2012 at 4:14 PM ET

Time and money are the two luxuries no one ever seems to have enough of. To help save you both, Kiplinger's Personal Finance contributing editor Kimberly Lankford spoke to TODAY's Jeff Rossen about their special feature on how to Cut the Red Tape.

For instance, want to save $30 a month on your cable bill? Just ask for it to be lower.

"Now is a great time," to negotiate a better deal on your cable package, Lankford said, because "there's so many ways to download movies and TV shows that cable companies are trying to keep your business if they already have you."

If you have a promotional rate that's expiring, call up your cable company and ask if you can extend it. It never hurts to ask."You'd be surprised," at the success you can have just by asking, Lankford said, "because they want to keep you." The same goes for if your rates have slowly been creeping over the years.

With a little chutzpah, and a few minutes on the phone, you can save yourself $360 a year.

But why stop there? There's another $30 per month in savings you might be able to get by jumping to a cellphone company offering a better deal.

Some people don't realize that if they're beyond their two-year contract and the other wireless company is offering a better rate and you want to switch, you don't have to also rush out and buy a new phone at the company store. AT&T and T-mobile phones are compatible on each other's networks, so you can bring a phone from one to the other.

Verizon and Sprint are a bit trickier, you'll want to thoroughly research your phone model first online. Or you can buy a slightly used, compatible, phone on eBay, and skip the big in-store price tag.

"T-mobile has a special deal right now where they're trying to get people with old iPhones who've been on AT&T to switch over," said Lankford. "With that deal you can save $50 a month."

Caveat alert: the big thing to watch out for with wireless plans is early termination fees. If you signed a two-year service agreement and try to switch before it's up, you can face giant fees that can quickly eat up any benefit you might get from going to a cheaper monthly plan.

Lastly, losing a wallet is a great way to find a heart attack, especially with fraud and identity theft such a concern these days. But you can cut down on the chest pains by first removing anything from your wallet that you don't really need. Especially, "don't keep anything with a social security number on it in your wallet," said Lankford. That's like giving an identity thief a freebie.

Then, Lankford says, "Xerox every credit card ahead of time so if your wallet is stolen, it's really easy to know who to call and what to replace."

If you do happen to have your credit cards go missing or get stolen, make sure to report it right away. If you don't report your debit card stolen within two days, you could be on the hook for $500 worth of any unauthorized spending spree.

Then there would go all that savings you worked so hard to get on your cable and mobile bills!

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