6 Expenses Worth Haggling Over

by Chris Birk on 22 April 2011 2 comments
Photo: Dan Zen

Perhaps more than ever, consumers are trying to squeeze the most out of their dollars.

You have to pick and choose your spots, but there's an insider art to truly wringing out every last dime — haggling.

Such an ugly name. But "situational negotiation," let's call it, can save savvy consumers a bundle in some retail spaces.

It’s not something that’s often encouraged anymore, but haggling can make a world of difference. Figuring out what expenses are worth quibbling over may not be an easy task, however. Some of the costs below do not need to be accepted at face value. (See Also: How I Got Over My Haggling Hatred)

1. Medical Expenses

Medical expenses are not fixed. The prices for tests and procedures can sometimes change if you push and prod. Start by checking the Healthcare Blue Book for average prices on particular tests or procedures. Negotiate the initial cost with the billing department by asking for a cash discount. Simply ask if they can lower the cost of a financially burdensome bill. If you can’t lower the cost, find out if there’s an interest-free payment plan.

2. Mortgage Rates

It's critical to get multiple rate quotes, especially if you have sterling credit. Negotiate mortgage rates with brokers, who are looking to make as many deals as possible. The higher your credit score, the more leverage you have in the negotiation. Any score above 750 will definitely help. Do some legwork and get estimates in writing from several brokers, then present the best one to the others and ask them to match or beat that estimate. Ask for lower closing, application, and origination fees. Smaller mortgage brokers are hurting in all corners of the country, and their compensation model is about to change. Now is the time to pounce.

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3. Credit Cards

Recent competition among credit card companies as result of industry reform caused rates for plastic money to be somewhat flexible. When you get an offer, call the credit card company and tell them you received better rates from others. Much like mortgage rate haggling, ask if that deal can be outdone. If the first person you talk to can’t help you, ask for a supervisor. Same goes for credit limits, although expect some push back given the overall economic landscape.

4. Home Improvement

Contractors are willing to lower the price tag on your home improvement projects. A combination of a slow industry and cheaper building materials means you don’t have to settle for the first quote. Talk with your contractor about building materials and reduced labor costs. Contractors are often willing to lower their price if it means getting the gig.

5. Automobiles

This is the standard haggling example, but it's worth repeating given the current fiscal climate. Rather than try to shrink the sticker price, ask the salesman what the dealership paid for the car. Then work the price up. Invoices for dealers are available for free online from Edmunds, IntelliChoice, and KBB. It never hurts to say that a competing dealership offered a better price.

6. Electronics

To land lower prices on home electronics and appliances, talk to managers when there are no customers around. It worries managers if they think they’ll have to make the same deal several times, but they’d rather close a deal at a lower price than not make a sale at all. Make it clear that you’ll buy the product immediately if they offer a discount or free delivery.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Please feel free to share your haggling experiences below.

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You forgot mattresses.

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Jready

On #2 the compensation changed effective April 5th. It basically took away a mortgage lenders ability to negotiate a lower rate with the consumer. Ironically both mortgage companies and banks reduced what they paid their employees while increasing rates by about 1/8th which means even more $ for the banks and companies. The employees and the consumer gets the shaft. Nice right. Great plan Government!! Way to make sure the middle class gets pushed down while banks make even more!