Most people don't realize that thousands of dollars a year in savings are a few phone calls away. Before you begin slashing your budget or looking for a second job to weather the economic slump, pick up the phone and make nine calls to make sure you are getting the best value for your money. Credit card company: If you have credit cards that carry a monthly balance, ask your credit card company for a better interest rate. It may seem strange that a company would reduce your interest rate simply by you asking, but if you are a good customer, they often will. A lot of your success will depend on credit history and if the company knows you can easily switch the balance to another card. Due to the cost of getting new consumers, most credit card issuers will do their best to keep you. The result can be hundreds to thousands of dollars. If you don't carry a balance, but have a credit card that earns points and charges an annual fee, ask to have the fee waived. The cost of getting a new customer is often more than the fee. With a bit of determination and a willingness to say you will cancel if you don't get what you ask for, you can often get what you want. Utility company: While you aren't likely to get a discount on your bills, a call to your utility company can often get you a free or discounted energy audit. If your utility company offers energy audits, they will send a representative to your home to check all the places where money may be leaking out of your house. You will receive a report on how to fix them, how much it will cost and how much you will ultimately save by making the improvement.