My wife and I recently made two phone calls which will net us a savings over over $1,000 per year. That’s right, I saved $1,000 with two phone calls. How? By doing 2 simple things everyone should do – calling my cable/internet company about the rates, and calling my county auditor’s office about property taxes.
Save Money on Your Cable Bill
It was ridiculous how much my wife and I were paying for basic cable and broadband internet service – $96 a month! That is with no extra service! So I called TimeWarner and asked them why it cost so much, and what could I do to lower my cable bill. I directly transferred to retentions where I explained to the agent why I thought I was currently paying too much when I could get Dish Network and another Internet provider and save money. From there it literally took only a few minutes minutes and they said, “Sure, why don’t we lower that rate for you. Your new rate is $72 a month and will be good for 12 months. Is that ok?”
Yes, it was ok! $24 x 12 months = a savings of $288. Not bad for a 5 minute phone call.
Save Money on Your Real Estate Taxes
Next I called our county auditor’s office. Our house was appraised in excess of $30k above actual value! It turns out the square footage of our house was listed higher than what it actually is – hence the higher tax assessment. How do you know how much your house is assessed for taxes? Access your county auditor’s website to find a wealth of info about your house (and other houses in your neighborhood) including square footage, # of rooms, sale price, tax assessment, building permits applied for, etc. Then determine if the value is assessed too high, too low, or just right. If the assessment is too low, I recommend leaving it as is. Some counties purposely assess houses below market value to give all owners a tax break. If your assessment is too high then you should challenge your property taxes.
Luckily for me, my county lowered my tax assessment based on a phone call. I told them what I thought my house was worth (the purchase price several months previous) and I told them what the neighboring house was currently on the market for. They took down my information and a few days later I received a phone call telling me my new tax assessment value. It came in right about $30k lower than it had been. That was a real savings of approx $60/mo. Multiply that by 12 months, and you get an additional savings of $720/yr. The best part is, the property is not due to be reassessed until 2008, so I locked in the lower rates for 2 years.
In some counties, you are required to fill out a tax challenge form that usually requires homeowner info, property info, recent additions/changes to property, the reason you believe your property is unfairly assessed, and sometimes other info. My county has this form, but you are allowed to challenge the assessment one time via telephone, and if you do not agree with their findings, you must then use the formal complaint. As it happens, my new assessment is both fair and accurate.
Two phone calls, $1000 real savings. Not a bad afternoon. Not bad at all.