Like most families in America, we unwittingly trapped ourselves into this situation and must dig our way out of it. So for the last 2 years, we have been doing everything in our power to cast off the shackles of debt slavery. And the single most important weapon we brought to the fight is our ability to lower living expenses.
If a person can drastically lower the amount of money needed every month to get by, then the surplus can all be applied towards reducing debt. Now if we looked at the average American’s spending profile, it’s abundantly clear that there is a lot of fat to cut. Collectively we have been brainwashed by modern consumerist culture to waste incredible amounts of money each and every month on worthless plastic junk.
Cutting the fat is quite easy once you recognize it for what it is. It is easy to skip eating at restaurants, when you see the damage it does to your future. It is trivial to avoid upgrading to a giant flat-screen TV, when you realize it’s just an energy-hogging brain-washing device. A man with even a moderate amount of self-discipline will be able to cut out most of his discretionary spending without too many difficulties. So within a short period of time, I had trimmed out just about all the fat that could be removed from my monthly budget.
Once the unnecessary discretionary spending have been cut however, all that is left are essential services, stuff that we need to survive. At this point, reducing your living expenses further requires a degree of surgical precision. Anything essential that you cut may harm you in the long run. Thus, the only way I could cut my costs further is by negotiating down the price of these essential purchases. Over the course of many months, I have gathered a bag of negotiation tricks that basically allowed me to bring down the costs of just about everything that I absolutely need to buy on a regular basis. I apply these tricks when I need to purchase just about anything, and especially for re-occurring expenses. These techniques are saving me several hundred dollars a month, so here goes:
1. Ask for discounts.
The first step to a price reduction is to just ask. A lot of essential goods and services are occasionally discounted due to excess inventory or unexpected local competition. For re-occurring monthly expenses it’s always a good idea to check for special offers or deals every couple of months. If you are a long term customer, be sure to mention that. A lot of companies will give you a special offer discount reserved for new customers if they think that giving you the deal now will keep you with them for another 5 years. It is important to always be nice and polite when asking. Everything goes down easier with honey….
2. Sign up for bundled offers
Many times you can get a discount by simply bundling multiple services under the same provider company. Its great for the company providing you with the bundled package because they get more business from you. Its awesome for you since you are paying less money. For example bundling your car insurance and home insurance with the same company will usually reduce the cost of both packages. Getting your home phone and Internet service from the same ISP would usually give you a very nice 10-20% overall price reduction. However, this tactic can be a double-edged sword. A lot of times companies bundle unnecessary services with essential ones and you might end up over paying.
3. Pick Ala carte deals
Many essential things that we require are bundled together with other non-essential services. Many times, if we can get the service just by itself, we can save substantial amounts of money. The classic example is the Triple-play packages that Cable companies offer. For a fixed amount of money you can get Internet, Phone, and Cable TV. Now the Internet is an important and necessary communications tool in my opinion. But Cable TV is unnecessary, since you can buy an internet video streaming device, plug it into the TV, and get hundreds of channels for free.
The difficulty with Ala carte options is that businesses will often make it difficult for you to pick just the essential options. I had to endure literally half a dozen attempts by my cable provider to get me to keep my triple play package before they finally relented. The trick is to be polite and insistent about it.
4. Offer to do them a favor or two
Many times, you can get something for cheaper by offering to do something to the provider of that essential product or service. If you scratch their back they will usually scratch yours. One example would be car insurance. If you take a defensive driving course, your insurance provider must slash your rates by 10%. The same principle can be applied to other things like rent and even groceries. I take care of the drive way for my current Landlady during the winter time, and in exchange I get a permanent parking spot which around here goes for $50-$100 a month. When buying food at the farmer’s market, I made a deal with a local Dairy farmer. I update his website twice a year and I get a gallon of free organic milk every week.
I always make sure to be super polite when negotiating this. Depending on the mood of the other person you can make out like a bandit with this tactic. The key aspect of such exchanges is relative value. What you offer to do in exchange for the price reduction must be worth LESS to you than the money you are saving and the same goes for the other side. In the case of the parking spot, for less than 5 hours of work a year shoveling snow out of the driveway, I’m getting about $1000 worth of parking. Now I don’t know about you, but $200/hr tax free is a pretty good salary for me!!!
5. Threaten to take your business to the competition
This tactic can be used in lots of places. Everything from internet service bills to your rent to Auto repair expenses can be substantially reduced with a well placed threat. Before you threaten however, make sure to do some research. First you need to figure out the cheapest price for the given product or service in your local area. If what you are paying is already the cheapest price in your local neighborhood, then broaden your search until you find another business who offers the same service for 10-20% less. This competitor does not actually need to be operating in your neighborhood for this tactic to work.
Once you found a cheaper competitor somewhere, all you need to do is mention that you’re thinking of taking your business to that competitor and half the time you’ll get 10-20% discount from your current provider. In these hard times, many business are running on slim margins so they cannot afford to lose long term customers. Even if a cheaper competitor is not yet doing business in the area, your current company cannot easily rule out the possibility of that happening. So as long as your demand is reasonable, most of the time you’ll get an immediate price reduction.
6. Go into desperation mode
This is like the nuclear weapon of negotiating tactics. It should only be applied when all else fails. And even then it doesn’t always work. Pulling this trick off requires a very thick skin. Basically you need to convince the other person that you got nothing left to loose.
Several years ago, in the early days of the great recession, I lost my landscaping business. My day job was laying off droves of people and my work hours were reduced. I had just met my wife at that time and we were still in the dating phase. So I was saddled with high interest student loans and a small commercial loan for my failed business with not much money coming in. It got so bad that I had trouble feeding myself and was unnaturally thin. Thus I had to demand that my already low rent be further reduced. Of course the landlord wouldn’t budge. So I threatened to put my stuff into storage, and go live in my car parked on the street in front of his house! Keep in mind that most normal people are scared of big guys who appear desperate. In my case it worked. That landlord lowered my monthly rent by $200!
With these negotiating techniques, I’ve managed to shave hundreds of dollars off our monthly budget. At the end of the day, money is hard to come by. So it’s all about getting the most out of the limited resources that we do have. Have money saving negotiation tips of your own? Please share it with us by leaving a comment!
by ThrivingAdmistCollapse, from survivingeconomiccollapse.net