We clip coupons, look out for sales and scour the Internet for discount deals to save money, but have you ever thought of just asking to pay less for something? While it’s the norm when buying a home or car, most Americans assume most set prices are non-negotiable. Think again! With a little know-how and a lot of courage, you can lower the cost of some of your priciest expenses. Are you thinking you just can't hack haggling? I know. I never could bring myself to haggle – even at yard sales. Then I got wise. Why pay more for what you could get for less? Negotiating sounds scary, but once you get over that initial fear, you'll find out how easy it is. Just follow these tips to get serious discounts on services, products and other expenses:
1. Cable/phone/Internet services
Ouch! Have you taken a look at your cable or phone bill lately? If you're like me, you cringe every time you open your bill, never really knowing if your bill has skyrocketed due to expired promotions. Short of cutting out your cable completely, you can lower this cost with a little negotiation — just do a little research first. Find out what competitors charge new customers, then call up your provider and tell them that you're thinking about switching providers unless they can match or beat the best deal. They'll usually respond with a deal of their own.
2. Credit card fees
We've all been there (even though we hate to admit it). You missed your credit card payment and ended up with a big ol' fee tacked on to your bill. If you generally pay on time, you can easily wipe this fee off your bill. Start off by apologizing that you were late making a payment. Explain that it was a mistake and won't happen again, then ask to have the fee waived. Usually credit card companies will waive one late fee per year. If the rep won't make an exception, tell her that you don't want this one fee to make you consider switching credit card companies. Finally, ask to speak to a supervisor.
3. Gym memberships
Most gym customer service reps will do anything to keep your business when it comes time to renew your membership. Tell your rep, "I’ve been a member for (fill in the blank) years, and I’d hate to have to look elsewhere for a gym. Is there anything you can do to lower my cost?" Often, the rep will be able to eliminate annual fees or lower the cost of your monthly fee.
4. Home Services
When it comes to home services (such as yard maintenance or home repair), it doesn't hurt to ask for a discount. In this economy, small businesses such as these have been forced to raise their prices — however, they're often willing to offer a discount to loyal customers. Offer to recommend their company to friends and family in exchange for a lower rate. Or, check out a few competitors, find the lowest rate, and see if they can beat it.
Most furniture companies mark up their prices significantly. That means that even when they offer a sale, they're still profiting. Ask for additional discounts or a special deal like a price reduction or free delivery. You'll have a bit more leeway if you pay in cash. You can also look at competitor's prices on the same furniture set and see if they can match or beat the lowest price.
6. Mortgage and Refinance Rates
While it may not be as easy as negotiating your cable bill, you also can negotiate your mortgage or refinance rate. The housing market has tanked making lenders willing to work hard to make a deal with consumers with high credit scores. Get a few quotes from different lenders, including interest rate and projected fees. Then ask, "Here's the best offer I found. Can you beat it?" Lenders might also reduce their closing or application fees. If you're considering refinancing or buying a home, these simple negotiations can save you thousands.
Don’t be afraid to haggle. You can negotiate on a lot more than you think. In fact, try using your newfound powers of negotiation on other services or products. The worst they can say is no!
This is a guest post by Rebecca from Brick, NJ
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