Negotiate Your Way to Savings - couple with cash and notebook

Negotiate Your Way to Savings

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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.

Shop Around

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!

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11 Comments

  1. I’ve never been very good at negotiating… I really ought to give it a try though as there is, as they say, nothing to lose by asking.

  2. “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” This is so very true! I definitely try to negotiate for better rates…sometimes I’m successful, other times I’m not. Negotiating is a skill and it can get better with practice.

  3. You are quite correct in saying that shopping around for a better price can save tons of money. I’ve literally saved many thousands on home improvement projects by getting multiple bids AND letting the bidders know that I am doing that. Just in the last few years, I’ve saved 50% on a new roof… 50% on a large tree removal job… 70% on asphalting my driveway… and a WHOPPING 90% on installing a whole-house backup generator.

    So never act on the first price or bid you get. Heck, not even in a retail store! Just a few weeks ago, I walked out of a Chinese curio shop with a gorgeous silver plated horse statue that was price marked at $195. I offered $125 and ended up paying $145. Chaching!!

  4. I went through Karass’ negotiation course, and it’s by far the most practical and ‘hands on’ I’ve personally encountered. I improved more over those couple days than I had in the prior couple years.

    Karass has some books out, and an audio course, too — I’d highly recommend either to anyone that wants to improve as a negotiator.

  5. I love to negotiate prices, I was especially good at negotiating better cell phone plans, unfortunately these days big companies seem to be less willing to negotiate back.

  6. I am so guilty of always using whatever utility company that is in the area and never do the research for cheaper service. I remember when living in the states and there were options of using alternative companies for my landline phone and electricity and because they were not well known I never switched. I look back now and realized I might have passed up some serious coins, because I was too scared to think out of the box.

  7. I asked Dish Network to give me their “new customer” rate. They of course said “no”. I told them I’d have to shop around because I didn’t think it was fair that I paid more than their new customers. They immediately offered me a $10 per month for 3 months discount. I said “sorry that’s not good enough”. They upped it to $25 for 3 months. I still said no. After several offers they finally came back with $25 discount for 10 months (just under 1/2 of my total bill per month). A savings of $250. The amazing part is that I’m just a basic subscriber of theirs. Other people have much more expensive packages, so I’m sure they could get even bigger deals. It just takes some willingness to work on it. A piece of advice….be very friendly. Being rude will get you absolutely no where. In total this took me about 15-20 minutes to negotiate. Definitely worth it.

  8. It is definitely a game. Even when negotiating something small like your cable bill or something big like a raise, it’s still a game. The company wants to keep you for as cheap as possible and you want to keep them by paying the least money as possible (or getting the most money possible in the case of a raise.) As long as you do your homework and behave like a civil human being, you can usually get what you want or close to it.

  9. Great post! I work at a cell phone company so I´m a little jaded when it comes to people trying to negotiate. On the one hand, yes, you should definitely call in to your cell phone provider every couple of months to see if there are newer, cheaper plans you qualify for, or any new discounts. No doubt about it. But with big companies like this, once they´ve given you all they can give… that´s all they can give. It´s not like buying something from a person directly where they can set their prices however they want. I hate when customers in the store say, “surely you can do better than that” after we´ve applied all the discounts he qualifies for, because it sounds like he´s working under the assumption that I´m lying, or holding out for him to sweet talk me some more. “No, sir.” I´m not holding out for anything. I´m here to help you as much as I can, and I´ve done that!

  10. Colver Long says:

    Thanks for sharing! This was really insightful 🙂

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