Negotiate a Lower Bill for Everything From Dry Cleaning to Hotel Rooms
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When brainstorming how to set more money aside, most people think about ways to cut back, like brewing your own coffee or relocating to the ’burbs. Others focus on increasing their income by starting a side business or asking for a raise.

But there’s also a third strategy that can improve your bottom line: negotiation. “It’s the fastest, best money you can make, because it’s non-taxable,” says negotiation pro and author Linda Swindling, “yet most people don’t even think to ask for discounts.”

It turns out you can talk your way into a better bargain on a whole slew of things you might not have guessed—from rent to groceries to tax prep—and save a major chunk of cash along the way.

Professional Services

Whether you’re hiring an accountant or contractor, your negotiation tactic depends on how in-demand they are. “Some firms are very busy and rarely, if ever, offer discounts. On the other hand, if they’re twiddling their thumbs, they may readily provide you with a lower price,” says Martin Latz, founder of the Latz Negotiation Institute and author of “Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want.”


To find out how sought-after someone is, ask, “If I were ready to commit, when is the soonest you could start?” If they’re free immediately, that’s a sign there’s wiggle room with the fee, especially if you offer to write a positive review or refer them to friends.

For popular providers, you’ll have more leverage if you’re already a client, Latz says. You could propose a multi-year commitment for a better rate, or, if the service is seasonal, see if they’ll slash their prices during slow season—e.g., having a tax accountant prepare your returns in January instead of April.


Chatting up a reservation agent can make your vacay as good for your wallet as your well-being. “But it’s often hard to negotiate with the national reservation desk,” Swindling says. “So call the hotel directly when booking, rather than the 800 number.”

One idea is to mention your gold or platinum status with a different hotel chain. For instance, if you’re a Starwood member, ask Marriott if you can get similar benefits. “Some hotels want you to change brands, especially if you are a frequent traveler,” Swindling says. “If you are treated with the same special amenities, they hope you will jump ship and start staying with them.”

During check-in, remember the front desk clerk usually has the power to upgrade your room or send complimentary gifts—so turn on the charm. “Then ask something like, ‘Will I like this room? Does it have a good view? Would you want to stay there?’” Swindling says. “About half the time, the clerk comes up with a better option.” She’s used this technique to land free breakfast, gourmet food baskets, upgrades and happy hour coupons.

August 16, 2016

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