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.”