I imagine that if you haven’t already tried to decrease your monthly expenses that you could save $100 or more per month with a little effort and time. Even if you have attempted or been able to successfully negotiate your expenses and/or income then it’s something that you should revisit regularly.
All I really mean by negotiate is that you simply ask. You don’t need permission from anybody to ask so identify your expenses and get to it! There’s likely some low hanging fruit (dollars) that you can get with a little effort. It’s good stewardship to cut where you can and redirect the money to savings and/or investments.
Every little bit helps, right? Even if you’re not living paycheck-to-paycheck then slashing some of the normal bills will get you closer to your goals. This simple exercise will give you confidence and open your eyes to other areas of opportunity as a bonus. Making negotiation a common theme in your life will open up doors and give you ideas that you haven’t thought of before.
Companies are willing to give you a break, especially if you’ve been a loyal customer and there’s competition for your business. What’s the harm in asking? What’s the worst that’s going to happen? They may say no. But even if they do then odds are that you can ask the right questions or say the right things to get past a no to a maybe and then a yes.
Here are a few tactics that may aid in your efforts.
- Establish rapport with them. Ask them how their day is going, where they’re located, or comment on the weather. Some folks call this greasing the wheel. It will help your conversation along to your advantage. Try to be genuine. You’re talking to a human on the other end and they’ll be able to sense a poser.
- Be assertive and confident. Do some research before you call. Find out how long you’ve been with them and mention that to the representative. See what they’re offering for introductory rates. Those rates are a good indicator of how much you’ll be able to save.
- Play the sympathy card. This is where you say something like ‘Times are hard and we’re trying to cut our expenses. What can you give me to help out?’ I’m not saying to lie here. There are general terms that you can use, such as the aforementioned, that could pull on the heartstrings of the human on the other end and prod them to help you out.
- Be ready to cancel your service if it comes down to it and you’re serious about saving money. You can mention this one first or early in the conversation if you like to let them know that you’re not playing around.
Here’s a list of areas where you can negotiate.
- Cell Phone, Cable, or Satellite – With a quick search I found other sites with great information on cutting such expenses. For example, wisebread.com, has a post specific to telecom companies with some details/tactics for each one. Some of the cheaper plans with Republic Wireless or Google Fi are worth considering if you’re willing to switch and can’t get anywhere with your current provider.
- Car Insurance – You can get significant discounts here by shopping around but make sure that you do a thorough comparison of plans before switching if you decide to make a change. Be careful of deductibles especially. You can get a lower monthly rate for a higher deductible but it may hurt a little or a lot when you have a claim. Simply call first to try to get a lower rate on your current coverage.
- Credit Card Rates – Credit card companies are always offering low intro rates. If you’re in good standing then contact them to see about a lower, even zero percent, rate. You really shouldn’t be carrying a balance on a credit card but if you are then the lower rate will give you some repreive to get it in the black.
- Credit Card Fees – I’ve incurred late fees from time to time but I’ve always been about the get the fee and interest forgiven. This may be because I’m not a repeat or frequent offender but you should always ask on these. Most of the time they’ll let you off of the hook.
- Medical Bills – If you’ve got a significant bill, say over $500, then ask if the provider will give you a discount for paying the bill in full versus going to a payment plan. I have had to pay larger bills with a plan before but found that some providers, especially larger ones like hospitals or hospital networks, will give you a discount if you offer to pay in full. You may want to ask what their typical terms are for a payment plan and then ask what they can do if you pay it off immediately.
- Taxes – It is possible, although probably difficult, to negotiate your tax bill. You can read more about it in this Washington Post article. If you owe Uncle Sam a pretty penny then educate yourself on the possibilities.
- Rent – Landlords don’t like dealing with finding new trustworthy renters. If you’ve been a good renter then see if you can get a discount on your monthly rent. If they feel like you’re going to shop around for a new spot then they may decrease the price.
- Pay – State your case for why you’re valuable to your employer and go for an above-average raise.
- Time-Off – If you can’t get that pay raise then go for an extra week of vacation! Or even better, go for the money and time!
Some of these are more common than others but I’d say that you can come up with more with a little creativity. Scrutinize all of your expenses, even the ones that aren’t monthly, and look for a way to negotiate, cut, or replace.
There are even services such as Bill Cutterz out there that will do the negotiating for you. I’ve never used such a service but it’s worth a look. They’ve got this stuff down to a science so it may be a good investment for you. If you’d rather pass on the negotiating then this is a viable option. There’s a favorable blog post on clark.com (Clark Howard’s site) about an actual experience with Bill Cutterz.
What are some things that you’ve successfully negotiated? I’d love to hear about it so fire away in the comments!