How to Save Money » Frugal Living

How to negotiate: The ultimate guide

“No’ is a reaction, not a position. The people who react negatively to your proposal simply need time to evaluate it and adjust their thinking. With the passage of sufficient time and repeated efforts on your part, almost every ‘You Can Negotiate Anything no’ can be transformed into a ‘maybe’ and eventually a ‘yes’.”
Herb Cohen, author of the best selling book, You Can Negotiate Anything

Fully embracing a frugal lifestyle means being able to negotiate effectively. In order to save money, you either need to make more money or reduce your costs, both of which involve negotiation to some extent.

Have you ever traveled abroad and noticed that haggling or bargaining is the norm – fully accepted by both parties as a way of doing business? Sellers and buyers expect some sort of negotiation as part of the process of making a final sale.

For most Canadians, on the other hand, haggling is not as common. This leaves you with less money in your pocket. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Here are tips for fearless, friendly negotiations.

Everything is negotiable (well, almost everything).

If you want to get the best deal, you need to negotiate – and you can negotiate just about anything.

Household bills, salaries, gym membership, bank fees, credit card rates, car insurance, dental visits, furniture, appliances, clothing, and more.

Don’t be embarrassed, too proud or worried about looking cheap.

So many people are concerned with how they will be perceived by asking for a better deal.

Who cares what other people may think! Do you think that “rich” people got rich by paying full price for everything?

Do your research in advance.

Know what the bottom line is that you are willing to settle on and know what else is available out there.

Arming yourself with information will help you better your chances of getting the deal done. As we know, retail stores price match, but even those that don’t advertise such policies will price match (or do better) just to get your business.

Have an end in mind.

Be prepared to walk away if what you want doesn’t happen.

Know the price that you are willing to pay and your bottom line terms, and keep them in mind while negotiating.

Don’t be apologetic.

You’re entitled to negotiate a more favorable deal. Don’t use any kind of language that implies you are apologetic (women may be more prone to this during negotiating than men).

Studies have shown that women apologize more than men, and you certainly don’t want to say “I’m sorry to ask this but…”. If you do, then from the start, you are implying that you are doing something wrong by asking.

Maintain positive body language.

For face to face negotiations, your non-verbal behavior sets the tone and plays a huge role in how things will turn out. Before you get a chance to speak, you need to exude confidence and positivity.

Did you know?: Renowned Canadian author Eliot Hoppe focuses on teaching sales professionals how to close deals by using non-verbal influence.

Even when on the other side as a buyer, the same techniques apply.

Deal with the decision-maker.

When you know you want to negotiate, you need to get to a person who has the authority to make it happen.

This is often the manager, so ask for them right away.

Look for words that scream “It’s Negotiable”.

Whether you’re at a garage sale or a retail store, look and listen for language like “the suggested price is”, “the usual price is”, “we are asking this price”, “this usually sells for” etc.

This type of language is telling you that they expect to negotiate and that you can most certainly get a better deal.

Build rapport.

Once you meet the person that you will negotiate with, take note of their name, remember it, and use it throughout your conversation.

Don’t just jump into asking what you are looking for. Start off by complimenting or making small talk about something positive.

Attitude is everything.

Be approachable. From the first contact, you want to come across as friendly, co-operative, and respectful – not demanding, arrogant, and hostile.

You are not likely to go far if you start out by making demands or threats. Chances are you’ll go a lot farther by being collaborative and taking the “work together” approach.

Use your words carefully.

Phrase your questions carefully. The simplest and most important way to ask questions is to go back to the basic open-ended questions we learned in grade school – who, what, when, where, why, and how.

As a rule of thumb, you never want to get a simple yes or no response.

For example,
“Who do I speak to about getting a discount?” vs. “Is there anyone that I can speak to about getting a discount?”

“What is the special rate if I buy 3 or more?” vs. “Do you offer a special rate if I buy 3 or more?”

Here are some good negotiation questions to ask.

Be willing to compromise.

You asked for what you want and you’ve been told that it is not going to happen. What next?

Be flexible and willing to consider other options. You need to ask about other discounts, deals, terms or rates that may be available.

It is not a good idea to demand one option only or make threats or ultimatums. When there’s no movement on price, focus on other aspects such as delivery, service fees, warranty, or accessories. Look for other opportunities to benefit.

Propose that you pay in cash or in full (or both).

For many items, offering to pay in cash is reason enough for a merchant to offer a price break. Credit cards have processing fees and may not be immediately released so the merchant may be more likely to pass the savings on to the buyers.

For bigger ticket items, if you can pay in full this will make the deal more enticing for the seller and they will be more likely to agree to a deal.

Learning how to negotiate is one of the best ways you can save money on almost all of your purchases.

Though it might be difficult at first (I always thought it was rude and felt awkward when I first started negotiating), it does get much easier.

Do you negotiate? What is one of your best deals?


  1. katie

    Being NICE will get you a good deal. That’s how I’ve gotten so many deals at Best Buy.

    Being MEAN however, will get you shown the door. I’ve had enough managers say ‘well hopefully they’ll never come back’. This also goes for those who feel entitled to a deal for whatever reason.

    Also knowing the cost of something, I worked at Honda, and those cars have a relatively low markup, so there’s some wiggle room but really not much (ex. they only gave my friend 900$ off when I referred her….).

  2. Paul

    I have called Rogers to get a better deal for me and my friends. If you are willing to sign on for a year they will offer you a 30% off discount.. just say you were shopping around.. and a friend told you about a deal they were getting… I pay under 20$ for the basic cable package (28 channels) and have a iphone with too many features to list that comes in just over 50$

    I recently called for a friend to reduce their internet bill, I quoted the 30% off and fabricated that the offer included free modem rental… and they said okay… and signed on for a year of service they would have been getting anyway….

  3. Virginia

    How do I negotiate with the dentist? I got a quote and my insurance come up $1000 short. I really like this dentist but would really like a cheaper price.

  4. Karyn

    As Oprah once said: “You’ll never know what you could have had, if you had only asked.” (or something along those lines!)
    I find that being friendly and respectful, along with leaving appropriate pauses in conversation gets me the best deals.

  5. Jessica

    “Virginia says:
    July 6, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    How do I negotiate with the dentist? I got a quote and my insurance come up $1000 short. I really like this dentist but would really like a cheaper price.”

    Hi Virginia,
    Some dentists will allow a payment plan, if they are familiar with you as their client over a number of years.

    Some dentists may allow monthly credit card payment.
    Can’t hurt to ask, IMHO.

  6. Stefanie

    Silly Question, would Negotiating a better rate on your credit card give you bad credit? Or will the frown upon that request lets say in 2 years when you want to apply for a mortgage?

  7. Linda


    We have a dental appointment this week and the dentist gave us a quote of no more than $1500, but won’t know till he gets in there with the amount of bonding he is doing on my daughter’s teeth. His quote are insurance rates at 2012 prices. Legally they aren’t allowed to charge different rates for non-insurance, but ….. and some dentists use to go a year behind on their rates. He will probably be able to give it to me cheaper, but I’m basically stuck without an exact quote. I will go for the option of payment plan which sounds like it can be 3 months and my gf said can you offer to pay cash? Never thought of that one, so not sure. Not sure I like the idea of not knowing the exact amount.

  8. Miss Molly

    I have no issues with negotiating with places like Rogers who are money gougers, but I also am on the other side as a small business owner and I get really annoyed when people try to get a discount. They wouldn’t take a cut in their pay so why should I give them a cut in mine? I would be really careful with asking for discounted rates, especially when it’s on services. People who do this have no idea how insulting it is to ask for a cut in rates since we pride ourselves in giving premium services.

  9. diane

    I have heard from others who do not have dental insurance that Dentists will definitely negotiate price for you once they know if you have insurance or not- at a considerably lower rate. They always ask me If I have insurance before they do certain procedures.
    Be clear and let them know that you cannot afford it and see what they can do for you. Pay cash or upfront so they will be more inclined to help.

  10. Linda


    It’s great that dentists still do that but “legally” they are not allowed to give discounted rates. Suppose to be the same price whether you have insurance or not. I don’t agree, but that’s the rules.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*