17 negotiation tactics and tips to help you improve your finances

A furniture restorer stands next to a chair in their workshop and shakes hands with a client after a price negotiation.Image: A furniture restorer stands next to a chair in their workshop and shakes hands with a client after a price negotiation.

In a Nutshell

From your salary to cable bill, negotiating can help you get a better deal and improve your finances. Try these 17 negotiation tactics the next time you need to advocate for yourself.
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Negotiation can be a powerful skill to help you advocate for yourself in your career and finances. However, if the thought of negotiating your salary — or even your cable bill — brings up feelings of anxiety, you’re not alone.

We’ll help you level up your negotiation skills and your confidence with these negotiation tactics.

Skip ahead to our infographic for some quick takeaways on effective negotiating.

  1. Use the foot-in-the-door technique
  2. Use the door-in-the-face tactic
  3. Try the “take it or leave it” method
  4. Leverage the competition
  5. Do your research
  6. Find a win-win situation
  7. Offer a bogey
  8. Make it personal
  9. Know your worth
  10. Prepare for counters
  11. Use a positive frame
  12. Exercise patience
  13. Be polite
  14. Practice what to say
  15. Boost your confidence
  16. Ask questions
  17. Stall when necessary

1. Use the foot-in-the-door technique

The foot-in-the-door technique is a tactic that uses a small, initial request to increase the chances of someone agreeing to a second, larger request.

This technique can be used when your goal is to achieve similar outcomes. For example, if you want to buy a shirt that’s $10, you might haggle with a vendor to get it down to $5.

You could then follow up by asking if you can buy two shirts for $10. Not wanting to feel contradictory about giving you the initial discount, the vendor may allow the second shirt for $5 as well. In this scenario, you’ve successfully negotiated two shirts for the price of one.

2. Use the door-in-the-face tactic

Instead of getting your foot in the door, you can also try the door-in-the-face technique.

This technique is the opposite of foot-in-the-door because the initial request you make is an unreasonable one that you expect to get turned down. After your first unreasonable request is denied, if you follow up with a smaller, more reasonable request, the person may feel compelled to agree.

Door-in-the-face can be an effective technique when you want to increase the likelihood of someone agreeing to a small request, like asking for a $20 discount on a piece of art after initially asking for $100 off.

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3. Try the “take it or leave it” method

This method is a hard bargaining tactic that suggests an offer is nonnegotiable. One scenario where this method may work is when you have a good or service that someone else needs.

If you’re selling your car and a potential buyer tries to negotiate your car’s selling price, you may respond by saying that’s the price and they can take it or leave it.

If the buyer really needs the car, they may take it at your price, and if they can’t meet that price, they may have to walk away.

Since this tactic is an ultimatum, you should prepare yourself in advance for either outcome.

4. Leverage the competition

When it comes to negotiating, remember that competition may be a catalyst for better deals. If you’re contemplating a purchase, do your due diligence and compare prices across competitors to find what’s reasonable for your budget.

Remember that prices aren’t always the only factor for a good deal, and you may find that a preferred store or service charges more. Leverage your knowledge about competing vendors and ask whether they would be willing to match a competitor’s price for the same product or service.

5. Do your research

Before walking into any type of negotiation, it is usually helpful to do some research. If you want to ask for a raise or salary, research the average market value of the position in your area.

Go into your negotiation with that number and provide it as evidence for the salary you want. This same premise also applies to buying a house or car. Educate yourself on the going rates for similar homes and cars in your area and use it as a bargaining chip during your negotiations.

6. Find a win-win situation

Another negotiation tactic is to come up with a win-win situation for both parties.

Imagine you’re trying to travel, and you want to do an affordable activity. You may decide that you’re interested in an activity that typically costs $100 for two hours. If you have a budget of $50 to spend, you could ask if you can pay $50 for half the normal amount of time spent doing the activity.

This offer presents a scenario where you may be able to get what you want and stay within your budget, and the other party is still compensated at the normal rate.

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7. Offer a bogey

Use human nature to your advantage by offering a bogey in a negotiation. A bogey is an issue that you pretend is important to you, but it really isn’t.

You end up conceding this issue, so the other party will potentially feel like they should do the same for you. This tactic operates off the psychology of reciprocity.

Reciprocity is a social norm that humans abide by and occurs when one person does something for another, so the other person feels compelled to return the favor.

8. Make it personal

If you’re negotiating outside of a business deal or career decision, it may be helpful to try an emotional appeal during a negotiation. For example, when making an offer on a house, a personal letter to the sellers may help swing a negotiation in your favor.

Telling your story can build trust and a personal connection, which can be very powerful tools of persuasion.

9. Know your worth

Whether you’re a loyal customer or a hardworking employee, know your worth in a negotiation. Employees bring value through their work performance, skills, experience, leadership and education.

Customers provide economic value as a consistent revenue stream and social value through their opinion and word-of-mouth. Depending on your role, highlight the value you offer and use it as evidence for better pay or better rates.

10. Prepare for counters

When two parties try to come to a mutual agreement, it’s possible that either side may push back if something doesn’t work in their favor. Be ready for counteroffers by thinking through what the other side might say beforehand.

Forecast different scenarios and prepare a strategy tailored to each one.

Here are a few potential scenarios that may play out when asking for a raise.

If they’re willing to compromise:

  • Take stock of your priorities and figure out if you can negotiate for them.
  • Example: If your employer can give you a 2% raise instead of a 4% raise, ask about an additional performance bonus or for more vacation days.

If they say no:

  • Think about ways to steer the negotiation toward a compromise.
  • Ask to revisit the discussion in the future.
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11. Use a positive frame

Negotiations don’t always have to be a “take it or leave it” situation. Try finding a positive way to frame your request.

If you offer freelance services and someone is trying to negotiate your rates, stay firm in your price with a positive spin. Let the person know that your prices ensure that you can offer them the best quality product or service. Many people may find it difficult to argue with better quality.

12. Exercise patience

Bargaining for better pay or better prices may not be easy. If you’re met with resistance, you may feel like giving in so that you don’t have to experience discomfort, anxiety or fear anymore.

If you do feel this, remember to exercise patience. Be proud of the progress you’ve made negotiating so far, and tell yourself that you will see it through.

Negotiations take time, but if you can be patient and stand firm in your goals, you might end up better off than when you started.

13. Be polite

Not all negotiations are intense, cutthroat experiences. Go into a negotiation with the aim of being firm but friendly.

Remind yourself that both parties are doing the best they can to reach their respective goals. Others may be more receptive to working with you toward your goals if you’re polite and not pushy.

14. Practice what to say

If you’re nervous about what to say in a negotiation, try practicing beforehand. Ask someone you trust to read or listen to your prepared negotiation and give an outside perspective on what works and what can be improved.

Then when you need to negotiate, you can be confident in your practice and know that you’re prepared to negotiate to the best of your abilities.

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15. Boost your confidence

Sometimes, it can be hard to feel confident when you’re anticipating an uncomfortable or awkward discussion, but confidence can help you appear more credible.

To boost your confidence, try repeating a mantra to yourself, striking a power pose or playing your favorite pump-up song to help relieve any jitters.

16. Ask questions

In a negotiation, never underestimate the importance of asking questions. This may help you buy time to think and give you more information to inform your strategy.

Try lines of questioning that get at why or how certain decisions were made. Another option is to simply ask for help. Here are some examples.

  • “I’m trying to understand why my medical bill is so high. Would I be able to see an itemized receipt?”
  • “I didn’t receive enough financial aid to attend this school. Can you please help me write an appeal for more aid?”

17. Stall when necessary

In certain situations, time can put unnecessary pressure on you. If you need to take a step back to contemplate your options or make the right decision, don’t be afraid to ask for time to think.

In the case of a job offer, you can politely request a deadline for a decision or let them know that you need a few days to think. Remember that you’ve already done well by attempting to negotiate, so don’t throw away your hard work with a rushed decision.

Negotiation examples

Now that you have the skills to negotiate, put them to work and do what’s best for you and your finances in these negotiable scenarios.

For each situation, find a couple of effective ways to get the conversation started, and remember to remain confident and polite in your communication.

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Negotiating salary

Research shows that about 70% of managers expect to negotiate salary and benefits when making an offer to a candidate, yet only about half of people try to negotiate — and men more often than women.

Many job offers have flexibility when it comes to compensation, so don’t leave money on the table by not opening negotiations.

It may feel daunting or uncomfortable to discuss money but know that companies expect you to do it. It’s important to take the chance and give yourself the best opportunity to maximize your income.

Negotiation tactics

  • Do your research and know your worth — “Thank you for the offer. I’m excited about this position and the opportunity to collaborate with your team. I understand the position is budgeted for [insert amount], but I’m hoping to explore if a [insert desired amount] salary is possible. This was listed as the industry average for this position in this area, and based on my skill set and experience, I’m confident that I can provide this level of value to the company.”
  • Prepare for counters — “I appreciate you taking the time to discuss this starting salary, and I completely understand any budget limitations. I’m still interested in joining your team, but I’d love to explore the possibility of a sign-on bonus considering my expertise and skill set.”

Lower your bills

When it comes to cable and internet bills, not everyone knows that those rates aren’t set in stone. It’s worthwhile to negotiate your monthly cable and internet bill because it means extra money in your bank account every month.

Take what you save on Wi-Fi or cable and contribute it to your savings or use it to pay off your credit card every month. For inspiration on how to get savings, check out our recommended strategies below.

Negotiation tactics

  • Leverage the competition — “I’ve noticed that [insert competitor company] charges $50 per month for internet with a speed of 100 Mbps. With your company, I’m currently paying $60 for the same internet speed. I’d love to keep my business with your company, and I’m wondering if you can match that price for me.”
  • Ask questions — “I noticed that my cable bill recently increased, and I was wondering if there is anything you can do to lower it.” Then politely follow up with: “Is that the best you’re able to do?” or “Are there any other promotions for my current services?”

Decrease your rent

Rent is set by landlords and is based on a variety of factors such as the current market price for rent, location or the available amenities. Each of these factors fluctuate based on your area and the property, and rent prices can be negotiated.

Try lowering your rent offer with these tactics.

Negotiation tactics

  • Leverage the competition — “After looking at several similar properties, I’d like to discuss a rent of [insert amount] based on a few lower offers I received.”
  • Find a win-win situation — “Based on your listing, you’d ideally prefer a tenant committed to a two-year lease. I’m a good tenant who would love to commit to your property for two more years, but I’d like to do so at my current rent of $1,100 instead of the increased price of $1,250.”

Reduce medical bills

Many Americans have experienced the reality of medical debt. Medical bills are sometimes unavoidable and can hold you back from achieving your financial goals. If you’re experiencing this burden, there is something you can do about it.

Ask your medical provider to give you an itemized list of your care and do some research on what a fair price for each service is in the Healthcare Bluebook. Call your health care provider’s financial services and ask to reduce your bill armed with your research.

Negotiation tactics

  • Do your research — “My itemized receipt states that I was charged [insert price charged] for [insert health care service]. According to the Healthcare Bluebook, a fair price for this service in my area is [insert price]. I’d like to know what can be done to lower my bill.”
  • Make it personal by telling your story — “I’ve been through some tough medical problems recently and am also experiencing a financial burden from medical expenses. I can’t afford to pay this bill and would like to know if anything can be done to help my situation.”

Get a better gym membership

Gym rates can be subject to monthly promotions or seasonal discounts, meaning that not everyone pays the same amount for the same services. Use this knowledge to your advantage and negotiate a better price for your gym membership.

Negotiation tactics

  • Ask questions — “I’d love to continue being a member at your gym. Do you have any promotions or incentives going on for a lower membership rate?”
  • Offer a bogey — “I currently pay $50 a month for a membership, but that price is getting to be too much for my budget. I was wondering if I gave up certain amenities, would I be able to get a discounted rate so that I can continue to be a member?”

What’s next: Grow your savings

It’s important to be an advocate for yourself and your financial well-being. Have confidence in your skills and use these negotiation tactics to try to get the best rates and better pay.

Once you’ve saved some money by negotiating, help it grow by depositing it in an interest-bearing savings account like Credit Karma Money™ Save.

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