Negotiate everything

Last reviewed: May 2009

One of few advantages of a lousy economy is that buyers hold all the cards. Sellers need your business, so make them work for it: negotiate better rates, contracts, and prices on everything you buy. "If you have not shopped for a better deal on everything, you are paying 10 to 30 percent too much," says David Bach, author of "Fight for Your Money: How to Stop Getting Ripped Off and Save a Fortune" (Broadway Books, 2009). Our experience supports Bach's contention that you can now negotiate better terms on almost everything from regular expenses like cell-phone bills to one-time purchases like cars or airline upgrades (see How to spend less on everything and Save on wheels, new or used). "Just by consistently asking for a better price, you can cut your overhead by $5,000 a year," Bach says. "That is better than any government stimulus package."