Getting a discount on purchases we would typically make is a great way to save some money. Loading up on these items, when possible, magnifies your savings. Buying on sale, when done correctly, is an excellent way to save tons of money.
What about purchases we make that aren’t on sale or services that don’t offer deals? I’m glad you asked my friend. Service providers and retailers aren’t going to offer up discounts on everything; they’d be out of business pretty quickly. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t willing to negotiate on price a bit. After all, they want your business to stay with them and not a competitor.
So how do you start the negotiation process? Easy, just ask! Seriously, that’s the big secret here. There is a bit more that goes into it, but asking is the most significant piece of the puzzle when it comes to negotiations. By simply asking for a discount, you’re more likely to get one. That doesn’t mean every retailer will be open to negotiations. You’ll likely be told no more often than not, but it’s always worth asking.
Okay, it’s worth mentioning that you should know a few negotiation tactics and form a plan before you start haggling with every salesperson you can find.
Do Your Research: You should know the product you are looking to get discounted. Think of negotiating a house price; the first thing that’s done is finding comparable houses in the area and what they’ve sold for.
Understand how much other providers or retailers are charging for the same or at least similar products and services. When you have evidence that you can go elsewhere to get a lower price, you’ll stand a better shot at getting a discount. Remember, they want your business!
Be Respectful: Nobody negotiates with a hard ass. Don’t go in demanding a discount or else. More than likely, whoever you are talking to is not the one making the final decision. Start your negotiating process by politely asking to see if there is any wiggle room on price and, if necessary, nicely ask to speak to a manager or supervisor.
Remember, you’re more likely to catch a fly with honey, not vinegar. Being rude or disrespectful to anyone in person or on the phone is a great way to make people not want to help you out; they want your business, but not that bad.
Don’t Be Obvious About It: This goes along with being respectful. When asking in person, try to be discrete. Again, retailers are willing to negotiate price, but they don’t want to do it if they don’t have to. Asking for a discount in front of ten other customers will likely get you a no. Think about it, if they say yes to you and everyone else hears it, ten more customers will be looking for a deal as well. A sales rep will appreciate you asking when there is no one else around, and you’ll be more likely to get a yes when it’s just you around.
Go at Off Times: To help with my previous point, don’t ask during a busy time. Going during off times will give you two benefits. One, it will be easier to ask discretely. Two, the salesperson will be less busy and will have the time to negotiate with you. If they are busy and have those same ten people looking to make a purchase as well and you waltz in looking for a deal, they won’t have time to haggle with you.
Be Ready to Walk Away Empty-Handed: No matter how prepared you are or how much you want your purchase, you’ll have to be ready to hear a “No” and walk away. Don’t use walking away as a tactic either. When a salesperson says, “Buy it now, or the discount is gone,” it’s a shady tactic, and it goes both ways. Just remember that the whole point of negotiating a deal is to save money, and if you can’t accomplish that goal, then you don’t make the purchase. But that doesn’t mean you give up….
You Might Need to Try a Few Times: Don’t give up after one trip to the store or one phone call. I’ve called service providers and gotten a “No,” hung up, and immediately called back. You’ll more than likely get a different person on the other end. They might be more knowledgeable or flat-out more willing to help you out. The same goes for in-store employees.
Try calling or going in-store at a different time or day to give yourself a better chance of working with another person. Most schedules are relatively stable, so switching up the time and day will likely get you someone new and hopefully a different outcome.
It’s Not All About You: Remember that there are two negotiating parties here. You’ll be looking to get the lowest price, and the other person is working to keep it higher. During negotiations, try to get a rapport with the other person, have a little back and forth. Simplifying stating what you want and ending it, there is a demand, not a negotiation. Be open to a bottom line that’s good for both parties. It might not be the absolute best end result, but it won’t be full price. The other person has their objectives too.
Time to Get the Best Price
Okay, now you are armed and ready to roll here. But where are some good places to start looking for these unknown discounts? Below I’ll outline some areas where you might be able to find some savings.
I’ll start with one everyone can relate to, your cell phone and cell phone service. The easier one of the two is the service part. Try giving your provider a call to see if there is anything negotiable about your bill. This might mean putting you on a plan that isn’t advertised or simply getting rid of some of those weird fees. Look at your statement first and call out specific ones. Just by questioning what you are getting charged for could make your provider crumble. They don’t like being challenged. When it comes to your phone, it could be slightly more complicated. Remember my number one rule, don’t buy it just because you can get a discount. Not buying a new phone is cheaper than any negotiated price you’ll get. I would suggest trying this one in person rather than over the phone. Sometimes you can get a BOGO (both phones should be a necessity), or some other discount, but I’ve found this difficult to get over the phone.
Your cable bill is another area that you should be able to negotiate with relatively easy success. The best way to get a discount is to cut your cable altogether. If you are set on keeping it, then start discount hunting. Like your cell phone bill, look for weird fees and taxes on your bill, those are some low-hanging fruit to get removed, but they can quickly add up to significant savings.
Don’t stop there, though. Again, cell phone providers likely have unadvertised plans that are cheaper or will make your bill lower while keeping the same services. You just have to ask! Don’t under any circumstances agree to more channels for the same price. That is not the goal here. You have enough channels already and don’t need anymore. If anything, you should remove any underutilized services or unneeded equipment like extra DVR boxes.
Bonus Tip: If you can stop renting any equipment, you can buy yourself like the router\modem. A bit of an upfront cost now but will save you money in the long run.
Buying a Car
I think everyone should know about this one, but you need to be ready to deploy all your negotiation skills here when push comes to shove. There is a decent amount of markup on any vehicle’s price, so even when you negotiate a better price, the dealership still makes a profit. Speaking of which, don’t feel bad if the dealership doesn’t make a profit at all; they don’t care about your financial situation, you don’t need to be concerned with theirs. Selling a car at a loss is still better than not selling it at all, so they will still be motivated. The last time I purchased a car (used Honda Civic, never buy new), they tried to get me to stay on the price they wanted during the negotiation stage. The sales rep even showed me their screen displaying them selling at a loss. It didn’t really matter to me. I didn’t need the car that day and had other dealerships to visit. It was an older model, so they wanted it off the lot, and I knew that. I told them the price I wanted to pay, which was reasonable based on my research. Within minutes they knocked thousands of dollars off their price.
Car and Home Insurance
Another service that is commonly overlooked is your insurance. Typically, not too much is up for negotiation; this is a more straight-up discount finding expedition. For one, having both your car and home insurance with the same provider could give you a significant value right off the bat. If you don’t do that already, that should be step one.
If you already have a combined policy with a provider, then you should review your policy. Circumstances change, and that could have an impact on your premiums. You might want to look into switching to a higher deductible too. It won’t save a ton, but every little bit counts. After that, it’s all about asking. There are other less obvious ways to save money on your insurance you wouldn’t know to look for. They aren’t going to call you to tell you about them; you need to pick up the phone and make that call. It might take some time, but by calling up, you can have someone help review your policy and find any possible discounts you could be missing out on.
Credit Card Rates
Another commonly overlooked discount is your credit card. I know you’re not carrying any balance month to month anyway, right? But, if you are, take a look at the interest rate; it’s likely some ridiculously high number making it difficult to pay down that balance. Even a rate cut by one or two percent can make a big difference in your ability to pay off the balance. Consider negotiating a lower rate with each of your credit cards to see who will give you the best interest rate.
Hotels and Rental Cars
This won’t help you in your day-to-day finances, but we all need a little vacation. All work and no play make Johnny a dull boy. But, just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean your frugalness is too, right? It can be an excellent opportunity to go bargain hunting and put your negotiation skills to the test!
When booking your travel, always search around on several websites for the best price. Once you’ve found the best price, try calling the hotel or rental company directly. When they don’t need to go through a third-party service, they make more money. Working directly with them will give you a better shot at getting a good deal on your travel.
Bonus Tip: Travel websites track how many times you’ve been there. If you keep going back, you’re likely to see higher prices. They want you to panic with the rising costs and book in fear of them continuing to go up. Clear your cache and cookies from your browser each time to see the best prices.
Once you are actually at the counter, now it’s time to put on your negotiator hat! More than likely, they will give you an upgrade rather than a discount, but okay, you’re on vacation, live it up a bit. In this case, it’s not hurting everything. Obviously, the desired outcome is the same room\car for less money, but if it comes down to an upgrade or nothing, take the upgrade.
Any Big Ticket Purchases
It’s never easy shelling out hundreds or even thousands of dollars to make a big purchase, but sometimes it’s necessary. The silver lining here is that sometimes these are where you can effectively negotiate a better price, saving a lot of money. More than likely, there is a hefty markup on the item or service you’re buying. This could be appliances, home renovations, the previously mentioned car, whatever; if it’s expensive, there is likely some wiggle room on the price.
To effectively negotiate, start by following the same rules already outlined above; go ahead and ask if anything can be taken off the price. Don’t look for big numbers like 15-20% off. Even a 5% discount on a $5,000 purchase is $250, which is nothing to sneeze at.
There you have it, folks. You’re all expert negotiators now. You’ll never pay retail price again! Sometimes it’s as easy as simply making a phone call and asking. Other times, you’ll need to do your homework first. In the end, though, you’ll need to be ready to do business. Most times, companies aren’t going to just roll over and hand out discounts. Sales reps are typically trained to have good negotiating skills, so you’ll have to be ready with all these negotiation tips. Even if they hand out a slight discount, don’t be afraid to ask for more; the worst thing that can happen is they say no. Then you either walk away or reach an agreement on the offered discount price. Either way, you’ve saved a bit of cash.
Have other areas to find discounts or negotiating tips; leave some in the comments!
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Jeff is a fan of all things finance. When he’s not out there changing the world with his blog, you can find him on a run, a Mets game, playing video games, or just playing around with his kids.