Your Money Matters: Unexpected costs you should negotiate, tips from John Amatulli

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John Amatulli

John Amatulli

Amatulli & Associates
3701 Algonquin Road Suite 150
Rolling Meadows
(224) 735-2234

Surprising Things You Should Negotiate

Dry Cleaning
Your local dry cleaner may be willing to give you a discount in exchange for helping them out. Loyalty goes a long way. You could offer to refer friends and family. You may even get certain fees removed by doing something as simple as returning a hanger.

Credit Card Bills
Credit card companies want to get their money back, so they’re often willing to work with customers to make it easier to pay down debt. Relatively few people ask, but two out of three cardholders who did ask for a lower rate got it (according to This is one of the times you may want to threaten to leave. Tell them about offers from other companies with lower interest rates, and they may be willing to match, or at least, lower your rate. But again, be willing to actually leave if you make the threat.

There are many ways to get a discount at a furniture store, but you may have to get creative. Some ideas: offer to take the floor model or wait for a special order. You may also get a discount if you can pay cash or waive the store’s free delivery. Industry insiders say you’ll have better luck at an independent showroom than at a big national chain. Smaller shops mean you can negotiate straight with the owners, rather than a salesperson who doesn’t have the authority to offer deals.

Phone, Internet & Cable
You may have the best luck if you try to negotiate with your current carrier near the end of your contract. It is much harder for a company to acquire new customers than to keep the ones it has, so they’ll be more willing to make a deal. Keep track of what competitors are charging their new customers. Sometimes, just pointing out a better deal will be enough to get a discount. If they say no, call back and talk to someone else. If you can’t get them to lower your bill, you may get them to give you a freebie, like a DVR or another add-on.

Medical Bills
Medical bills can be more difficult to negotiate, but there are some strategies. If you’re having elective surgery, you’re in a better position because you can do some research, shop around and compare prices. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if tests or medications are necessary and if there are cheaper options out there. Patients in an emergency are in a tougher spot- you can go back and ask if the doctor will accept less. Some doctors may even give you a reduced rate if you fill out a hardship waiver. To learn more, ask the billing person at the hospital or doctor’s office.

Special Events Costs
It’s easy to go overboard when you’re planning a wedding or another special event. Almost half of the couples who got married last year admit they went over budget (45%, according to You can cut down the costs by negotiating, for example, the price of limo or salon services. The key is to shop around. You can try saying “Your competitor will charge me this amount, but I’d rather work with you” as a way to haggle without sounding confrontational.

Jewelry trends change so quickly that even high-end jewelers may be willing to take a lower price for an older item. You’ll have a better chance at a smaller store than a national chain. They may have firm corporate policies and may be less able to haggle. Keep in mind, you’ll probably have more success haggling on a piece of jewelry that’s already in the showcase, not something that’s custom-made.

Gym Memberships
Whether you’re signing up for the first time, or you’re already a member, there are ways to bring down the costs of a gym membership. Once you’ve settled on the club you want to join, find out what members are paying by asking friends or checking online message boards. If the gym quotes you a higher number, you can say “My friend was offered this rate- can you match it?” You can also ask for promotional rates coming up or if they can waive initiation fees. If you’re turned down, you may be able to negotiate other perks, like free personal training sessions. Once you’ve been a member for a while, you can often get a better deal by threatening to leave. Again, it could be in the form of a discount or added perks.