Americans generally see price tags as final, but it is actually customary in many foreign countries to haggle with merchants in the marketplace. While it isn’t a common practice here in the states, it isn’t always frowned upon either. Consider this: When you ask someone to lower a price, the worst they can say is no, so why not see if you can get a lower price? Here are five common items whose prices can (and should be) be negotiated.
Housing is generally our biggest expense. The cost of putting a roof over your head is typically 20% of your income — that’s a large portion of spending, and it’s a great place to start saving more. If you’re renting and you’re renewing your lease, you may have room to negotiate. This is especially true if you’ve always made your payments on time. First of all, why would your landlord sacrifice a responsible tenant for an unknown one? Second, as in any business, it’s easier to retain a customer than it is to replace one.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a new place, let your current landlord know about other options in the neighborhood that are less expensive. Your landlord may then be more willing to come down in price. You could also negotiate for a lower rent based on extra amenities that you don’t use (washer and dryer in building, extra parking spaces, etc.).
If you’re buying a house, shop around for the lowest interest rate on a mortgage. If you have a history of making on-time payments on credit cards and other bills, you have room to negotiate the interest rate on the mortgage. Looking around for the best mortgage will not hurt your credit score if you do it all within a 30-day period. Credit bureaus know you’re “shopping around,” and that should not lower your score. Sometimes a finance company will be willing to negotiate closing costs as well, which can be quite costly.
The furniture industry is known as a high-margin industry; many showrooms mark up merchandise as much as 250 percent! Here are a few options to negotiate a lower cost:
- Buy floor models. Since they are “used,” you should get a good deal.
- Simply ask for a lower price or compare prices among competitors and use that as leverage for a lower price at your preferred store.
- If you’re buying antiques, antique dealers expect to negotiate. Check online for a price point to help you know how to best negotiate.
- Check out sites like Craigslist for slightly used and new furniture. Even if the listing doesn’t explicitly say “OBO” (or best offer), don’t hesitate to offer a lower — but fair — price.
Now that you got a great deal on that couch, don’t fall in love with it so much that you become a couch potato. Join a gym! Sometimes it’s difficult to negotiate the monthly fee unless you use the argument that you don’t use all the facilities. Consider whether or not you use all their locations or just a specific club — if that’s the case, negotiating for limited access just to the club you use may help cut costs. Additionally, it’s very common for gyms have add-on fees, such as registration costs or an annual fee. These are fees you can negotiate. There’re plenty of gyms around, and you can simply tell them you’re considering taking your business elsewhere. Make sure you do some research before and see what the competitors are offering for regular membership or any promotional deals they have.
Cable / Phone / Internet
Cable, phone and internet promotions are always expiring and new ones are always cropping up. When your contract is about to expire, make sure you’re aware of what the other providers are offering and what they’re charging. Tell your current provider you’ll switch unless they match (or beat) the deal. Remember the landlord situation? Again, it’s easier for a business to retain a customer than go out and get a new one. Many times, cable companies have specific deals to help retain customers longer so they may not show up on their website. Don’t be afraid to ask about them!
Credit Card Fees and Interest Rates
If you’re a good customer, you may be able to negotiate late fees. This is especially true if you were late only once and there were extenuating circumstances. You can also ask your creditor to lower the interest rate. Credit card companies would rather you pay them the interest, albeit at a lower rate, than for you to pay the interest to someone else.
There are several steps between the manufacturing of your next car and you driving home in it — each of those steps raise the price further. Take the time to do your research before so you have a good idea of what a car should cost. Take into account all of the add-ons you want like heated seats, sunroof and more — small perks like this can really add to the price tag and can be used as leverage for negotiation by the dealership.