Bill Haggling

If you’re looking to cut some expenses in your budget, never settle for “retail” or the first quoted price on certain monthly bills. It can be tough and sometimes take a long phone conversation or two, but haggling on some of your monthly service bills is a great way to save on your bills. If you haven’t already done this before, you ought to try calling one or more of your bill providers to ask for a better rate.

We have managed to get lower rates numerous times and kept almost all of our bills from increasing since Kat and I have been married. (For example, we only have Internet service and actually pay less now than when we originally signed up and they’ve quadrupled our download/upload speed since then.) Here are some ideas and tips to get you started:

Cable & Internet: Call your provider and simply ask for a better deal. Don’t be afraid to let them know you’re shopping around and have found better rates elsewhere, and even ask for the appropriate rep to cancel your service if you aren’t getting anywhere with the first person you speak with. Sometimes you just have to jump through a few hoops and prolong the phone call for them to just give in and magically find that lower rate.

Credit cards: Call your creditors and negotiate a lower interest rate using essentially the same principles as with your cable/internet service. Let them know you expect better rates/service or you will go elsewhere. (Credit card providers already make a killing on every single transaction because vendors have to pay small percentages on them, so they are just gouging you for additional revenue with high interest rates.)

Rent: This is not always possible, but it is definitely worth a shot every single time your rent lease is up. (We have managed to save thousands over the course of a year by haggling every year when the time came to renew our lease.)

Car insurance: Ask for a better rate or a discount (especially if you work from home), and inquire about all possible discounts available to you based on where you live, how much you drive, what type of car you own, etc. (We’ve never changed car insurance carriers because they have yet to be beaten when we actually have shopped around.)

Gym membership: Not an easy one and this is one of the most overpriced bills for most people, but if you go to a large chain gym like LA Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Lifetime, etc. then it’s always worth a shot to keep asking for a better deal. (We just use our local city gym in Allen, and there happens to be a free gym for me at my office, so we’ve managed to keep this cost way down.)

Psalm 107

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Psalm 107

I love this epic Psalm…

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the LORD for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man! For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things. Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So He bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the LORD for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man! For He shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron. Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He sent out His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the LORD for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His deeds in songs of joy! Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the LORD, His wondrous works in the deep. For He commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and He brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the LORD for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol Him in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders. He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there He lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield. By His blessing they multiply greatly, and He does not let their livestock diminish. When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow, He pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; but He raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks. The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth. Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.” – Psalm 107

We do well to seek advice. For that is a very wise thing to do, to seek counsel from others more knowledgeable than us. But there’s something to being at your wits’ end that begs for more than instruction. Psalm 107 illustrates a season in the storm. In particular, there are men in ships doing business on great waters who are literally struck by a tempest. Scripture says, “They reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end” (v. 27). Their response to being completely helpless was to cry out to the Lord. No how-to’s, no catchy quotes, no cute preservers, but just an honest and urgent plea to be delivered from a situation that was more than they could navigate. What did the Lord do on their behalf? He showed them His steadfast love. He calmed the waters, hushed the sea, and brought them to their desired haven.

This is sustaining grace, this is the desired haven: to know God’s steadfast love that saves and keeps us. Real change won’t happen through ‘trying harder,’ but only through encountering the radical grace of God. It takes an experience of beauty to knock us out of our self-centeredness.

God is so much bigger, so much greater than our present circumstances. He is always at work, accomplishing His prefect will, even when we can’t see it, can’t feel it. God will always provide; but what He provides will be what is needed, not necessarily what is wanted. For even when He appears far from us, His Spirit is residing in your very heart, working to complete the very work He began in you. God loves us so ferociously; while we wander around like blind retarded sheep, constantly forgetting how loved we are, yet still our Father pursues us and loves us. Our God is so faithful, so beautiful. Why do we keep taking our eyes off Him?! He is so amazing, nothing at all can compare to our great God.

“I see Your face in every sunrise,
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes.
The world awakens in the light of the day,
I look up to the sky and say:
You’re beautiful!

I see Your power in the moonlit night,
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright.
We are amazed by the light of the stars,
It’s all proclaiming who You are.
You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful.

I see You there hanging on a tree,
You bled, and then You died, and then You rose again for me.
Now You are sitting on Your heavenly throne,
Soon we will be coming home.
You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful!

When we arrive at eternity’s shore,
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more.
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring,
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing:
You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful!”

– Phil Wickham