How We Negotiated Thousands in Savings and Extra Earnings
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“I saved 12.5 percent on a new car.”

Jessica d’Arbonne, 30, an editor in Denver, Colo.

When Jessica d’Arbonne’s 12-year-old car finally died in October, she didn’t immediately replace it. She knew December was a better month to buy, thanks to dealerships’ end-of-year discounts and willingness to sell older cars.

But when the Volkswagen emissions scandal hit, she saw an opportunity to strike. “The bad press caused many [Volkswagen] dealerships in my area to announce big sales to get rid of both new and used inventory,” says d’Arbonne.

First, she secured financing with her bank for 50 percent of her total budget, and even got a .5 percent discount for setting up automatic payments. Then she scheduled a test drive on a year-old Volkswagen with 20,000 miles on it, originally listed at $16,000.

But before she hit the lot, she made one more power move: “I negotiated with the dealership on the phone before even seeing the car,” explains d’Arbonne, who got the price dropped by about $1,000 during the conversation.

Then, at the dealership, she was polite but not overly friendly, asked straightforward questions and never let on that she really wanted the car. Her tactic worked: The salesperson agreed to waive another $1,000 in dealership fees—for a total of $2,000 saved.

Photo credit: Chad Spangler

600834_10201003510714241_1633286243_n“I scored a better benefits package and a $10,000 raise.”

Danielle Deschaine, 26, a digital strategist in New York, N.Y.

Feeling overworked and underpaid, Danielle Deschaine began interviewing for new gigs in May 2016. When an agency offered $59,000—a $10,000 bump—she asked her current employer to counter. After all, she liked her work and loved her co-workers.

Her boss agreed to up her salary to $61,000. But before agreeing to stay, she compared the rest of her compensation package: “Salary is something you can negotiate more often—yearly, pending performance,” Deschaine says. “But benefits aren’t up for discussion as much after you are hired.”

Rereading her offers, she realized she’d get five more vacation days, plus better and cheaper health insurance—by $1,344 a year—at the new company. Add in the extra paid time off, and Deschaine knew that taking the new offer was best.

While it didn’t result in a deal, Deschaine is glad she negotiated with her employer. With two comparable salary offers, she could zero in on other perks she may have ignored if there was a bigger pay disparity.

The experience underscored another key negotiating tactic, too: Be willing to walk away. “At the end of the day, you’ve got a responsibility to do what’s best for you, even if it’s a hard decision,” she says. (Of course, you can also use a counter to try and up the other offer as well, which is often an effective technique if you’re truly weighing both options.)

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