SPENDING | JUN 30, 2022

Talking Down the Price

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Rob West & Jim Henry

We lead a pretty comfortable lifestyle in the U.S., compared to the rest of the world. It’s made many of us so complacent that we rarely question the price before purchasing something. We’ve forgotten how to haggle … a common practice in other countries.

Some may be reluctant to try negotiating for a lower price because they don’t know how to do it. Others might think that it’s dishonest or unbiblical to talk someone down in price, but it’s actually good stewardship, making the most of the resources God has entrusted to us.

The Bible has many examples of God’s people negotiating with others. The spies coming to terms with Rahab in Joshua 2 is just one of them … “So the men said to her, ‘Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the Lord gives us the land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.’"

Negotiating is not at all like trying to dodge a debt or evade paying taxes, which, of course, is dishonest and unbiblical. As long as the seller has the freedom to say no, there’s nothing wrong with trying to get a better deal.

So where do you start? The first thing is to determine where you can negotiate and where you can’t. There’s no sense wasting your time if you know that the offered price is firm.

If you’re willing to negotiate you can often get a better price on your cell phone plan, your cable package, your credit card interest rate and your gym membership. Sometimes all you have to do is ask to get a better deal.

Others that might require more work include your rent and car insurance. You may have to give up some things to get a better price. In the case of insurance, be sure that you maintain adequate coverage.

If you decide to negotiate for lower rent, start by doing your homework. Use Zillow or Craigslist to find out what others are paying for comparable units in your area. Make a list of several with lower rents that you can cite in your negotiation.

Then be ready to offer something in return for a lower price. Maybe you can pay a few months in advance or you’d be willing to sign a longer lease. You might offer to increase the termination notice from 30 to 60 or even 90 days. Those are things landlords appreciate.

You can also offer concessions that won’t cost you anything. For example, if you don’t own a car, offer your parking space. You could promise not to smoke in the unit or keep a pet if they’re allowed. That could save the landlord money.

The secret to successful negotiating is working toward both parties getting something out of it. You want to make it a “win-win.”

You can also negotiate for a higher salary. A lot of folks are shy about asking for a raise, but right now you’ve got tremendous leverage. Employers are still desperate to attract and retain good workers, so the market’s in your favor.

Start by making a list of problems you’ve solved for the company. Maybe you’ve decreased the accounts receivable balance or your ideas and suggestions eliminated certain expenses. That’s a great start.

Then make a separate list of problems you will solve going forward. Finally, determine your asking salary. You can visit Salary.com or PayScale.com to get an idea of what others are paid for similar work in your area. Now you’re ready to negotiate.

Make an appointment with your boss to talk about your salary. During that discussion, show your lists of problems solved and problems you’ll address. The worst that can happen is the boss says no. If that happens, hang on to the lists you made. They’ll come in handy for your next job interview if you decide to move on.

If you’re buying a big ticket item, simply ask, “Is that the best you can do?” In some cases, the salesperson will bend over backwards to give you a better price or throw in something to sweeten the deal.

Asking for a better price never hurts. You just might get it.

You can also listen to the related podcast on this topic.

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