Four Expenses You Must Negotiate

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When it comes to saving money, one of the most important things you can do is ask for a discount. Many of us have been conditioned to just accept costs as they are. Haggling is not really part of the American psyche right now. (Although some point out that bargaining has been on the rise since the recession.)

There is no reason to just accept the first number offered. There are a number of things open to negotiation, from the price of your car — one the few things we do haggle for — to the interest rates on your loans. Before you shell out, make sure you really are getting a good deal. Here are 4 expenses you should be negotiating:

1. Loan Fees and Interest

Whether it’s a credit card or a home mortgage, you should be negotiating the costs related to loans. This is especially true if you are a good customer with reasonably good credit. If your credit card charges you with a late payment fee, and you normally pay on time, call and ask to have it waived. You can even call to ask your credit card issuer to lower your rate. I asked to have an annual fee waived — and got what I asked for.

Negotiate mortgage interest rates and closing costs with your lender. See if you can get a lower rate, or see if you can get some of the origination and doc fees waived. Shop around so that you can present what others are offering during your negotiation.

2. Bank Fees

In addition to negotiating loan fees and interest, you can also negotiate bank fees. Many financial institutions are adding fees to checking and savings accounts, and you can ask to have your fees waived, or find out if the bank has an attractive alternative to the account you have now. If you are long-time customer who has used a number of the bank’s products and services, there might be something that can be done.

One interesting thing I found out is that my bank actually waives one overdraft fee a year — just for the asking. I discovered this a couple of years ago when an error I made in my records resulted in my withdrawing money that wasn’t actually there. When I went to resolve the problem, I discovered that I could just ask to have the fee waived, and that I could do that once each year.

3. Medical Bills

Head to the billing department and find out if you can negotiate the cost of a medical procedure that is causing you difficulty. Find out the average cost of different medical procedures in your area with help from the Healthcare Blue Book. This will give you a good place to start from. You can ask for a cash discount, or ask if there is a cash discount. My dentist and my doctor both offer cash discounts. Another option is to find out about interest-free payment plans. Some health care providers will offer you an interest-free plan if you pay within three to six months.

4. Appliances and Electronics

You know that you should haggle for a better car price. But you can also haggle for other high-priced items, like appliances and electronics for your home. My husband and I bargained for $100 off and free delivery and installation on a washer/dryer set — at the height of the free spending days prior to the recession. Now you might be able to do a little better. Talk to the manager or assistant manager, and do so in an area away from other customers. You don’t want the store manager getting spooked by the idea that he or she will have to share the discount with others who have heard your negotiations.

In the end, you can ask about discounts, and fee waivers. After all, the worst that can happen is that you are told “no.”

{ 19 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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19 Responses to “Four Expenses You Must Negotiate”

  1. Strebkr says:

    About #3 the medical bills. We figured we would give this a try after the birth of our 2nd son. We got shot down every time. It sounds like the offices are getting used to people asking so they have things in place to combat this. 2 places said they won’t discount unless the hospital is discounting. To get the hospital to discount you need to be eligible for federal aide. So….it didn’t work hwo we thought it would. The only benefit we got out of it was they let us split our payments into pieces. We could have paid cash for everything, but if they want to let me drag it out for 6 months interest free then I’ll take it.

    • Miranda says:

      That’s rough! I haven’t heard of that. I guess some places are starting to decide that cash is common enough to deny the discount. But, still, you’d think they could charge a lower rate. You know they charge insurance companies more. But, payments at no interest isn’t too bad…

  2. billsnider says:

    On auto’s, it depends what car you are buying. Where I live all the Toyota dealers charge the same amount. There is no haggling.

    You forgot one big haggle. I do this with my wife every day over every aspect of life!

    Bill Snider

  3. tbork84 says:

    As far as student loans go. With private loans, it can be a lot harder to negotiate down the minimum payment that with federal loans, but it never hurts to call and ask. I have quite a few friends who have been very successful with this tactic.

  4. Jordan Drake says:

    Great ideas Miranda.

    It’s not strictly “negotiating” but I was surprised at how much I could save on insurance by taking advantage of other services from my insurance company at no additional cost.

    I recently got renters insurance for firs time at x rate per month. I then opened a checking and savings account (no fee with a minimum $25 deposit) and a credit card (again – great card- no annual fee) with the insurance company. Lowered the renters rate by almost half.

  5. You really should try to negotiation EVERYTHING at least once a year. The worst they can say is no. For me, it seems like every time I get denied in a negotiation, I get so mad that I start looking around for a cheaper alternative. 9 times out of 10, I do!

    • Strebkr says:

      I have to negotiate with my cable company Uverse every 6 months. Anytime we call to complain about the price they give a 6 month credit. When it expires we have to call back. It goes on and on. Right now we are on a $25 a month discount. So the savings does add up.

      • skylog says:

        i hear so many positive outcomes with this, but no matter what i do, no matter how i do it, i never get anything. it is so horribly frustrating.

        the only positive i have had was switching to a “worse” company and getting a great deal for going back to my original a year later. that said, that year was awful. the best part of the service was the discount i received by giving it up.

        • Strebkr says:

          When you went back to your old company? Did they treat you as a new customer? Were you able to get all their current deals? I’ve thought about just switching back and forth between 2 companies in our area. Maybe go a year with each, but I always hear the deals are for new customers only and I’ve wondered if I could qualify for it.

  6. zapeta says:

    Beyond those mentioned, I’d suggest negotiating with your cable/satellite provider. I am usually successful at getting the cable company to lower my rate.

  7. James says:

    Haggling for electronics works! I did this a few years ago when I got my HDTV. I got the big box store to match an online price. I agreed to purchase their extended warranty which helped me to get my price, which I later declined and got my money back.

  8. billsnider says:

    Also try the local health club. I always get something off from them by asking.

    Bill Snider

    • skylog says:

      i am going to be trying this shortly. i am hoping the tumbleweeds rolling by from all the january members not showing up plays in my favor.

  9. Shirley says:

    Thank you for the link to Healthcare Blue Book. I expect to make good use of that!

  10. Because of the lousy economy,many retail stores are willing to negotiate. In my experience, most banks have not really been willing to negotiate fees.Loan fees, though are always negotiable.

  11. Jason L says:

    Interesting concept about haggling with bank fees. Now *that* is something I had never considered. I’m actually opening up a new business checking account next week, so it’ll be interesting to try this out…

  12. Strebkr says:

    Don’t bother negotiating with Chase. They just rolled out tons of new fees and basically did away with free (without having to jump through 100 hoops) checking accounts. They are not budging on refunding fees.

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