On Tuesday, I discussed a few ways that we have reduced our bills. Bill reduction can be an easy way to make your paycheck go farther, enabling your money to go towards things that can have a more lasting impact.
While those ideas are great and easy to implement, the one that has by far given us the most bang for our buck is negotiation. It is also the one that has been the most challenging for me.
I have mentioned on here before that confrontation is not my cup of tea. But I also don’t like to see our hard-earned money go out the door either. Thankfully, my husband has tutored me in the fine art of negotiation; I’ve learned that reducing our bills doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) result in a knock-down, drag-out battle.
The first time I became acquainted with this bill-reducing strategy was when we purchased my piano. It’s a beaut, isn’t it?
Now, this instrument was used. It was older. It was already pretty reasonably priced. But there was another piano that was a couple hundred dollars less than this one, but that I didn’t like nearly as much. When the salesperson asked what our thoughts were, I remember looking at the keys and waiting for Riley to say we were going to take the cheaper one.
What I heard instead: “Well, we like this one (the one in the picture) best, but we like the price of this one (the cheaper one) better.”
Cue Amanda cringing inside. Imagine my surprise when the saleslady said, “I think we could drop the price on this one a little more for you.”
And they did. That’s all it took. No yelling, no conflict. We got a piano at the price we wanted.
To be fair, Riley does most of the bill negotiation in this house, by virtue of the fact that he is the one who winds up paying most of the bills. He’s done this several times, and each time I learn a little more, to the point where I now feel comfortable doing it myself if need be. But negotiating bills isn’t just for men–it’s for women, marrieds, and singles, too!
Here are some secrets to the art of negotiating your bills.
Be nice. Anyone who has ever worked with the public knows that you are more inclined to help someone who is friendly and firm than combative and cranky. You want the person on the other end of the line to help you, not hate you!
Be flexible. Sure, we would have loved to have gotten that piano for free. But being realistic and flexible goes a long way. Remember it never hurts to ask for a reduction in your bill (“I’ve been a good customer for a long time, and it would be great if I could get the interest dropped on this card” is a good example), but you may not get your way. At least you can say you tried, and sometimes you may wind up with even more than you asked for!
Practice what you want to say beforehand. This may not always be a feasible option, but for someone like me, who struggles to think on the fly, it is helpful to outline what, exactly, I want to achieve and how I will say it. Use the time on-hold constructively, and brainstorm a little speech!
If you have ever negotiated a bill, what worked for you? I’d love to hear from you!