Most of us know that we should negotiate a new job offer or the sticker price on a car, but there are plenty of other items and services we shouldn’t be paying full price for, either. Here are five things to negotiate to make sure you lower their costs this year, and tips for ensuring you’re getting the best deal you can.
If you’re moving to new digs in 2019, here’s something you might not know: the rent that most landlords charge tenants varies, even for the exact same floor plans. If you’re shopping for a new place, tell the leasing agent or landlord that your monthly budget is anywhere from $50-150 lower than they’re quoting you, and see if they’re willing to negotiate. If they’re firm on the monthly rent, ask if they can waive any move-in fees or reduce required deposit amounts instead. Finally, if you’re willing to stay put for a while, see if you can lock in the same rate for an 18- or 24-month lease instead of the standard 12-month one for a better deal.
2. Medical Bills
Many of us know the unpleasant shock of getting a medical or dental bill for something we thought was covered under our healthcare plan. However, what we don’t know is how much everyone else is paying for the same thing — rates are often negotiated by your provider, or can depend on various other factors that the customer doesn’t know about. For that reason and more, it’s always worth it to try to negotiate a bill you’re struggling to pay, especially if you feel like you’re being charged for a test or procedure that should be covered by your insurance.
Take a close look at the bill and at your plan, and see what your options for an appeal are. If appealing the claim isn’t possible or you don’t have insurance, talk to your healthcare provider’s billing department to see if you can work out a monthly payment plan or if they have any options for reducing the amount owed. You may be surprised by how willing they are to work with you. After all, doctors’ offices would much rather get some payment from a patient than no payment at all.
3. Auto Repairs
Unless you’re one of those people who can change your own brake pads and rebuild an engine from the ground up, you’re probably going to find yourself paying for routine maintenance and auto repairs. To save money on this expense, before the mechanic starts any work on your car, ask for an itemized estimate of the cost of the repair, and then look it over carefully to see if there’s any room for negotiation on parts or labor. For example, I recently took my ancient car in for its yearly inspection, and one of the things it needed was to have a few headlight bulbs replaced. That’s something I’ve easily done before with a trip to an auto parts store and a YouTube video, so I had my mechanic do the stuff I couldn’t, replaced the bulbs myself so it would pass inspection, and saved myself about $35.
4. Gym Membership
If you’re one of the almost 67% of Americans who don’t use their gym memberships, go ahead and cancel this expense altogether. However, if you absolutely get your money’s worth out of your membership or are looking to switch gyms for a better deal, negotiate the cost of a membership and save even more. First, do a bit of research ahead of time to see what the best rate and introductory offer is for the gym you have your eye on. Then tour it at a time when it’s not busy and you can talk to a sales associate or manager. Get a quote from them before you name your budget — which will obviously be lower — and see if they’re willing to negotiate. If they can’t budge on the monthly fee, ask about free guest passes, a free locker, or other perks they could throw in to entice you instead.
5. Credit Card Interest Rates
If you’re carrying a balance on a credit card and trying to pay off that debt, it can feel impossible to chip away at the outstanding balance if you have a high interest rate. However, you do have some options to negotiate down your APR. Meaning “Annual Percentage Rate,” APR is the interest rate that you pay for borrowing money from the company, and it can range anywhere from an introductory rate of 0% for a set period of time all the way up to an exorbitant 35% or higher. To negotiate a better rate, call your credit card company and explain to them that you’re trying to pay off the outstanding balance and you’d like them to offer you a lower APR. Let them know that you’re thinking of transferring your balance to another card with a lower rate and see if they’re willing to match that rate to keep you as a customer. Most companies would much rather keep an existing customer than have to recruit a new one, and they probably won’t want to lose your business to a competitor.
Despite what most companies would have us believe, sales associates and billing departments often have leeway when it comes to the sticker price on a product or service. There’s a good chance that if you ask for a discount or better rate, you’ll get at least a few dollars knocked off the quoted price. It’s almost always better to ask than to just suck it up and pay a higher price than you can afford. If the answer is no, then at least you can rest assured that you got the best deal possible.
A grant writer by day and personal finance fanatic by night, Marisa is an avid traveler who lives in Pittsburgh, PA. When she’s not reading or writing for work or play, she enjoys running, thrifting, and searching for the most authentic Mexican food in the city.
Image via Unsplash