5 Things You Should Always NegotiateSaving Money
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It’s easy to accept the sale price on a variety of items, and the prospect of negotiating to get a better deal can seem intimidating. That said, most of us spend far more money than we need to just because we don’t want to go through the trouble of negotiation.
Fortunately, negotiating prices isn’t as scary as it sounds, and there are now a growing number of bill negotiation services available. Lowering prices on common expenses can help you save a significant amount of money each month with no changes to your spending habits or daily routine.
This article will cover a few of the things you should try to negotiate on whenever possible.
Whether you’re buying new or used, cars are one of the most important purchases to negotiate aggressively.
Dealerships use a variety of tactics to generate sales, and you’ll be at a disadvantage if you come into the negotiation blind. With that in mind, you should start doing some research well before you plan to buy the car.
First, identify the car you want and search for it at all nearby dealerships. The more dealerships you find, the easier it will be to leverage them against each other and get a good deal.
Call or send a message to their sales team asking for their best price on the vehicle in question.
You’ll also want to get pre-approval for a loan from a separate lender rather than financing through the dealership.
While they can still respond with their own options, this gives you a fallback in case they don’t offer what you’re looking for.
From there, you can respond to a few of the lowest offers and let them know your situation. Considering that cars can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, negotiating is a minor inconvenience for the potential to get a significant discount off the sticker price.
2. Monthly Bills
Most people understand the importance of negotiating when buying a car, but they may not be aware that they could also negotiate down their monthly bills.
This section applies to everything from electricity and heating to cable and internet.
Most providers would rather take less money than lose your business, so they have some flexibility when it comes to negotiation. Since these are fixed monthly expenses, negotiating once will continue to save you money for as long as you’re using the service.
Find a Fallback
Like negotiating on a car, negotiating monthly bills is easier if you have a viable alternative. If you don’t have any choice but to stick with the service, they have less of an incentive to drop the price.
With that in mind, you should look for other options in your area before calling your current provider. Let them know what the competitor is offering in order to give them a chance to match that deal.
Pay for Bill Negotiation
That said, if you’d rather avoid the process of negotiating, you can use a service like Billshark or BillFixer to handle negotiation for you. BillShark, for example, charges a one-time fee of 40% of your savings over one year.
You’d save more by negotiating yourself, but this is a significantly easier option. These services focus solely on negotiating bills, so they may also be more likely to succeed.
Whether those benefits are worth losing some of the savings is up to you.
These platforms only take a cut of the money they save you, and you’ll only be charged if they help you get savings. In other words, there’s no risk in having your utility bills negotiated by a reputable company.
3. Car Repair
Finding an honest and reliable mechanic can be surprisingly difficult. Car repair shops might charge you for things you don’t need or overestimate the cost of certain services just to generate more profits.
There are a few ways to get better prices from your mechanic while ensuring that you’re receiving high-quality repairs.
The first thing to remember is that you should always negotiate before taking your car in—you give up all negotiating power when you agree to have it serviced. Shops can hold your car until you pay the bill, so you’ll effectively be forced to accept whatever they decide to charge.
In the same way, waiting until you need immediate repairs will make it more difficult to negotiate. It’s important to negotiate from a position where you have time to wait until you get the price you’re looking for.
Learn About Cars—At Least a Little
You might not be interested in cars at all, but it’s easy for a mechanic to take advantage of a customer who doesn’t understand their own vehicle.
Demonstrating that you have a basic awareness of car maintenance and repairs will let them know that they need to take you seriously during the negotiation.
Just as offers from multiple dealerships can help you lower the price, getting estimates from several mechanics will let you know what each one charges.
Some repair shops will even offer to price match their competitors.
Stick with One Repair Shop
Once you find an affordable repair shop you trust, you shouldn’t switch mechanics until that changes.
Along with reliable service, many locations now provide loyalty benefits, giving you another reason to keep coming back.
4. Bank Fees
Overdraft fees, minimum balance fees, ATM fees, and other charges are a frustrating way to lose money. Fortunately, banks are often open to waive some fees, especially for people with good customer histories.
Go Over Your Statements
The easiest way to avoid these charges is simply to carefully review your bank statements every month to identify any unexpected fees. Even if you were charged by mistake, you’ll likely have to contact the bank in order to get the issue resolved.
If you haven’t negotiated bank fees in the past, it’s worth taking some time to go through statements for the last few months. You never know what your bank will be willing to forgive—after all, the worst they can do is say no.
Consider Professional Negotiation
Professional negotiation services are now available through several companies including Cushion and Harvest. These use a similar business model to platforms like Billshark and BillFixer.
Of course, your results will depend on how much your bank is charging you in fees and how much they’re willing to negotiate.
Cushion charges a monthly fee of $3 to $8 for access to different features and more negotiations. This pricing plan enables you to keep 100% of savings.
On the other hand, Harvest doesn’t charge a monthly fee, but it does take a 25% cut of all fees refunded through auto-negotiation.
Call or Send an Email
If you’d rather do it yourself, the easiest option is to call or email your bank and explain the situation.
Make sure to stay calm and respectful throughout the conversation in order to increase your odds of getting a refund—keep in mind that customer service reps aren’t responsible for their bank’s policies.
5. Credit Card Fees and Interest
Credit cards are one of the most common forms of debt, but they’re not exactly consumer-friendly. Credit card holders are charged extremely high interest rates along with late fees and other charges. Even a small reduction in your rate can lead to substantial savings, especially if you tend to carry a large balance.
Call Your Provider
Customer service teams field countless rate reduction requests every day, and you may be surprised by their willingness to negotiate. In general, credit card providers have to offer competitive rates to prevent you from transferring your balance to another card (more on that later).
Remember to highlight your credit score and history if you’ve generally made reliable payments. You’ll have an even better chance of getting what you want if you can provide other offers.
Don’t be afraid to ask your credit card provider to match a competitor’s price.
Consider a Balance Transfer
If your provider won’t give you the rate you’re looking for, you should start shopping around for a good balance-transfer credit card. These cards typically charge a fee of around 3% of the total balance.
Balance-transfer cards often come with introductory periods during which you won’t have to pay any interest. Since credit cards regularly charge upwards of 20% in annual interest, the 3% balance-transfer fee is a small price to pay for the ability to avoid interest for an extended period of time.
Negotiating can feel like a tedious and time-consuming process, but it’s actually one of the easiest ways to save money. These are just a few ideas to help start cutting costs on common expenses.
If you’re having trouble staying motivated, think of negotiating as a part-time job—just a few hours of work could save you hundreds of dollars on cars, bills, fees, and more.
Alex McOmie is a freelance writer for Money Done Right. He joined the Money Done Right editorial team in summer 2019. Learn more about Alex.