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Negotiation changes how much you end up paying on everything from hotels to insurance. Here are five areas of your life where a bit of verbal elbow grease can completely change your life.

Rent

Negotiating your rent can be done around lease renewal time or when you are looking for a new apartment. When you are looking for an apartment, never settle for just talking to folks at one apartment management building. Even if it’s where you ultimately want to live, you won’t get a good deal on an apartment if you don’t have comparison properties to mention.

A comparison property is one that has similar amenities, apartment sizes and location. Two buildings can be across the street and be completely different. One may have a pool and be recently renovated. The other may not have seen an update for more than a decade. Make a few phone calls about specials. Explore a block or two radius around your desired address.

When it comes to negotiating rent on your own apartment, go through the same process. Your negotiation may save you paying a higher rent than you would like. And when it’s time to move in, ask casually about new carpeting or an apartment cleaning that they’d have to do anyway if someone new moved in.

Hotels

Ever wondered how you can find three different prices on the same hotel room from three different places: the hotel reservation phone number, the hotel website, and online travel sites? Airline rates are based a plane’s occupancy. The fuller the plane is, the more you will pay. But hotel rates aren’t just based on occupancy. There are package rates, rates for VIPs, and specials offered both on their own website and other sites. When beginning a hotel negotiation, start by narrowing down the hotels you’d like to stay at to your top three choices. The best way to do this is by reviewing sites like TripAdvisor.com and then comparing rates on Hotels.com. Look at the websites for those three choices, and check for any possible package deals they may offer. Finally, call the hotel and see what the best rate is that they can offer. Mention any rates you’ve already seen. Once you arrive at the hotel, ask about upgrades. You may get a suite for a fraction of the normal rate because it happens to still be available on the day you arrive.

Furniture and other retail goods

My favorite piece of furniture is my dining room table. It’s made of recycled wood from old railroad tracks and looks like it’s worth several thousand dollars. I paid $700. The table was originally $999. I asked about discounts and found out those who use their in-home design service get 15% off their entire purchase. Then a sale was coming up where the item would be 20% off. I waited for the sale and used both discounts. I often ask about additional discounts at the register of any store. I’ve received anywhere from a 20% off coupon at Macy’s to $50 off at Lucky Brand jeans. Always search the web on your smart phone at any chain stores if stores match prices. I saved $50 at Best Buy by showing them a deal on the same product offered on Amazon.

Cable, phone and electric bills

Almost every utility bill has some negotiation component. In states where you have a choice of electric provider, you can compare electric and gas company rates. I saved about one-third of my bill by choosing one electric company over another. You can also choose a plan where you pay a lower rate in off-peak hours or even billing. You won’t always automatically get any of these options. You have to call your electric provider and discuss your bill and options. When it comes to your cable bill cord cutting, getting rid of your cable service in favor of Netflix and Hulu is becoming extremely popular. But you don’t have to do it in order to cut costs. Ask about specials and bundles. Especially, if there is competition for your business, you may get a better deal. The same goes for your cell phone bill.

Insurance

You can and should compare your insurance with other carriers on an annual basis. You can do this through online resources or by going through an independent insurance agent. Independent insurance agents have access to deals from a wide variety of companies. They don’t charge you a fee and will do the comparison shopping for you. Also, you can tell your current insurance provider you’d like to pay less, and you’d be surprised what’s offered. I called my insurance provider when I had car insurance. The original bill was over $700 for six months. I asked if they could do better on the rate. I was offered a rate of around $400. It was because they owned a smaller company that offered better deals.

By arming yourself with comparison information, inquiring about specials or simply asking for any available discounts, you can save yourself money on some of the most expensive purchases.

What are some ways you’ve negotiated to save money? Let us know in the comments below!

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