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The costs of living on your own can be a shock to your system, especially if you’re becoming a homeowner for the first time. Although you have an idea of what items and services you need, the initial setup fees for utilities, cable, and other “necessities” can be an unexpected drain on your pocketbook if you aren’t prepared. What’s more, those sweet introductory rates are going to increase immensely over time, wreaking havoc on your budget.
Never fear, young apprentice…Club Thrifty is here! And of course, we’ve got some tricks to help save you some fat stacks over the long haul! All it takes is a little research and learning how to negotiate.
You Get What You Negotiate
Author and negotiating expert Charles L. Karass says that, “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” This is true for business as well as in life. Unfortunately, not many of us are very good negotiators. If you are like me, you tend to want to avoid conflict. Even when I’m dealing with customer service agents, I’m always trying to be nice.
Still, over the years I’ve gotten better at playing the negotiating game with large companies. Before making a purchase of any kind, I know that I always need do my research. Just a few weeks ago, we were able to save several hundred dollars on a water heater simply by shopping around. When the new water heater showed up with cosmetic damage, we negotiated with the seller to discount the price even further. Boom! How is that for saving money?
Second, I always try to remember that there are other companies out there. Utility and cable companies are notorious for leading you to believe that there’s only one provider available in your area. “BAH!” I say. There is (almost) always another option! Don’t like your cable company? Try cutting the cord to cable! Utility company giving you problems? Shop around to see if there is another company that can suit your needs.
Don’t take everything these people say at face value. Shop around, and let them know that you are going to do just that. You may be able to negotiate a cheaper rate.
As I mentioned earlier, I always shop around before making a major purchase…and so should you. Before you can negotiate, you need to know what you are talking about. It is imperative that you know what other deals are out there. Using consumer information websites, like Local Electricity Companies, can help you compare prices so that you make a good decision right from the start. Regardless of whether you’re looking to get started with a new company or simply negotiate a better deal with the company you already have, these types of websites will arm you with the information that you need to get yourself a good deal.
Play the Game
Now that you’re armed with knowledge, you have to play the game. The fact is this: Once you choose a company, you are likely to stick with them for a looong time. Companies know this, which is why they are willing to spend money to secure you as their customer. Many subscription companies (cable, newspaper, utilities) may be willing to give you some ridonk-a-donk rates just to get you into the door.
Instead of settling for high prices, beat them at their own game. Negotiate a great introductory price, and keep negotiating when the rates increase. Get on the phone with them knowing that they are going to lose more money if you switch companies than if they cave to your reasonable requests. We do it all the time, and it has saved us thousands over the long run.
This technique works for more than just subscription companies. You can try this with your other bills as well. Insurance rates, interest rates, student loans – no bill should be safe from your negotiating powers! If it has a price, it can almost always be negotiated.
Remember what Karass says: “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” So, try it out with just one bill, and see how much you can save! What do you have to lose?
Have you ever used negotiation to get a swank rate? How did it work out for you? Let us know in the comments below!