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Negotiating: Not a Dirty Word

Negotiating: We’ve all done it at one time or another.  Perhaps you negotiated your salary, benefits, or vacation at a new job. If you’ve purchased or sold a house, you most likely negotiated the sales price and other aspects of the sale. But did you realize that you could negotiate expenses in other aspects of your life?

Now, I’m not saying that you should go into the grocery store and haggle over the cost of your items at the checkout. But there are plenty of other ways you can save yourself money just by asking and by being diligent.

Big Ticket Items
Auto purchases: You already know this one! Be sure to arm yourself with information in advance: Know your desired car’s worth. Kelly Blue BookEdmund’s, and True Car are all good information sources.  Be polite but firm. Turn down all those extra add-ons the dealership will try to sell you. Just keep saying “no.” Try shopping (with your desired car and price firmly in mind) on the dealer’s off days or hours: Last day of the month, Saturday or Sunday an hour before closing, really bad weather days.

Medical bills: Now, this you might not be that familiar with. First off, thoroughly check over your medical bills, especially Medicare bills. Make sure the services listed are ones you actually received. At a minimum, you should be able to negotiate a payment plan with your provider. If you’ve received a very large bill from a hospital or other large service provider, be frank with them about your financial situation, and ask them to reduce your bill. Also: Ask before your visit for any special cash payment or uninsured discounts!

Rent: This works especially well if you are a good tenant. Before your lease is up, do a survey of comparable rentals in your area. If you find that other properties are priced a bit lower, or include other features (paid utilities, etc.), present that information to your landlord when it comes time to renew your lease. Be polite and friendly. Perhaps the landlord can pay one or more of your utilities, arrange to paint or do other not-urgent maintenance, provide landscaping, or simply reduce your rent. If you have been a good tenant, it will be cheaper and easier for them in the long run to keep you, rather than have the property vacant and risk someone new.

Other Opportunities
Insurance: Check that you are getting the best price for your auto, home, or renter’s insurance. First, know what you are currently paying, and then shop around for comparable rates. This is relatively easy to do online, or just by calling. Sometimes an insurance broker can help (make sure you select one that represents a lot of companies, not just one). Contact your current insurance company and ask them to meet their competitor’s prices, and also ask if there are any discounts you are eligible for (clean driving record, bundled plans, safe driving and parking).

Cable and internet: Again, shop around, and see what other companies are charging, including their new subscriber deals. Then, call your company and ask them to match those, or their own new subscriber deal. If you’ve been with the company for a long time, they will consider this seriously. If not, go to another service and take them up on their lower price!

Credit card fees: If you haven’t abused your credit card and have made payments on time, but recently made one late payment, call them to ask about waiving the fee.

Cell phone fees or plans: Again, express dissatisfaction about your plan or question the fees involved, and ask them to take a look at it—what can they offer you?

Damaged items: If the product you are purchasing is slightly damaged (and it’s damage you don’t care about, such as packaging), ask for a discount at the register. Check-out clerks at chain stores are frequently authorized to grant a 10% discount with no hassle.

Key phrases to remember:
I’ve been a good customer for a long time.
X company is offering a better deal.
I’d hate to have to change companies.
Can you work with me? Or, What can you do for me?
I need to cut expenses.

Always be polite and friendly, but patient and determined. Good luck!

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