Negotiation Skills: How to Increase Your Salary, Lower Your Bills, & Avoid Bogus Fees

Corey —  May 18, 2010

       Negotiation skills are a powerful asset in life. Understanding how to negotiate will help you get raises and promotions, get a better deal, and get out of paying stupid fees. These five steps will help you learn how to negotiate better and smarter.

1. Prepare

       Before you begin negotiating (meeting with your boss or calling a company), take time to prepare for the negotiation. Think about what you want to accomplish and make it a concrete goal. “I want a 10% raise” is better than “I want more money”.

       Then, take some time to look at it from the other person’s point of view. Why should they be willing to give you what you want? In the case of getting a raise, have you proven yourself to be a valuable asset to the company? If you’re dealing with a business you buy from, have you been a customer for a long time or is it difficult to get new customers?

       The key is to list your accomplishments and reasons why you should get what you want. If you’ve saved your company money or taken on new responsibilities, write down exactly what you have done. Good examples would be “saved the company $20,000 a year by reducing waste in …” or “supervising ten more employees than last year”. Be ready to justify your request with reasons that will appeal to the other person.

       If you’ve been hit with a bogus fee, review your situation and be ready to explain what happened and why you don’t think you should be charged. If you were misinformed by an employee of the company, make that clear when you call. This is also why it’s smart to keep a record of when and to whom you speak when you call a company. You can easily reference the conversation and the person if a problem arises in the future.

2. Choose the Right Time

       Timing can greatly help your changes of negotiating successfully. If you’re asking for a raise, try to do it right after you finished a major accomplishment or as you take on new responsibilities. Your boss will have a difficult time overlooking the current circumstances – making it easier to give you a raise.

       Trying to get a better deal on your cell phone? Wait until your contract is just about to expire. (This works for other bills, too.) Businesses often spend quite a bit of money to get customers, so they’ll often do what they can to keep you. Negotiating when you’ll have the option to cancel gives you more power.

3. Be Firm & Confident but Polite

       Even if you are nervous or unsure, act confident and be firm as you negotiate. Weakness (real or perceived) puts the negotiating power back in the other person’s hands, so avoid it at all costs. This simply means you should not act timid when making your request. If you know you deserve a raise, act like it!

       However, this doesn’t mean you should be rude. Nobody likes a jerk. If you become hostile or impolite, people may refuse your request simply because they don’t like you. Be pleasant, kind, and patient and you will be rewarded.

       Another strategy is to use praise to your advantage. When negotiating a raise, show that you enjoy working there and are aligned with the company’s interest. If you’re trying to get a good deal with a company, comment on how you’ve enjoyed using their product in the past. Let people know you appreciate their time and help and they’ll be happy to help you again.

4. Be Ready to Respond

       You should be ready to respond to any number of reactions you get. If the answer is yes, then express your thanks. If the person needs to get someone else’s approval, let them know you appreciate their support. If the answer is no, things get a little trickier.

       If you’re trying to lower your bills or get rid of bogus fees, don’t give up at the first “no”. Restate one of your reasons for why you should get what you’re asking and follow that up with a leading question. Here’s an example: “Well, I’ve been a customer for 3 years and I’d hate to have to switch to [competitor]. What can you do to help me lower my bill (or get this fee waived)?” Do not follow up with a question that can be easily answered with a “yes” or “no”. Push for a “what else” or “how” type question rather than simply saying “Are you sure?” or “OK”.

       Dealing with your employer is a bit different because you don’t want to be so pushy you lose your job. If you think your boss is being unreasonable in denying your raise (i.e., you actually do deserve it), don’t be afraid to ask for more details and insist on your accomplishments once again. Be polite but firm. “After saving the company $25,000/year and increasing efficiency by 15%, a 10% raise is a reasonable award. In addition, comparable positions pay 20% more than my current salary so it is still good for the company.”

       If your boss still won’t (or can’t) budge, offer some alternatives that might not cost more money but are still beneficial to you. Increased vacation time, flexible hours, or the option to telecommute one day a week are a few examples. If these don’t go over well, ask for concrete goals you can achieve to earn a raise and get an appointment to renegotiate in a few months.

5. Be Ready to Walk Away

       Finally, you must be prepared to walk away if necessary. If a company won’t offer you a discount, let them know you can get a better deal elsewhere (be specific) and thank them for their time. That’s often enough to get what you ask for right away (but you shouldn’t abuse it).

       If you are significantly underpaid, work very hard, and have not been able to get a raise, be ready to leave your employer and go elsewhere. I wouldn’t use this as a negotiation tactic though. Even if your current employer offers to increase your salary, they’ll know you aren’t loyal to the company and they may look to replace you. Your best bet is to start looking for a new job without letting your current boss know. Turn in your resignation after you have a firm offer from a new employer and move on.

These Tips Do Work!

       If you think these tips don’t work, I’m proof that they do. Using these strategies, I’ve gotten 10% raises, lowered several of my bills, and had bogus fees waived several times. Again, preparation and confidence are key. You must know why you deserve to get what you’re asking for and be willing to push for it if necessary. Many times, simply asking will get what you want because so many people fail to take that step.

       Have you successfully negotiated a raise, lower bills, or fee waivers? Share your tips and stories in the comments!



Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.

4 responses to Negotiation Skills: How to Increase Your Salary, Lower Your Bills, & Avoid Bogus Fees

  1. I do not have a success story right now but hopefully I will soon. Thanks for the tips. I will need them to rectify a situation with the hospital regarding my recent physical therapy. You see, they did not follow insurance company policy and incurred a $250 penalty. This shows up on the medical reimbursement under patient amount due. I have had a discussion with the billing person but I have never heard back. Something tells me this is not the end of the story . . . lol. Anyway, thanks again for preparing me for battle.

  2. Good luck, Donna! Dealing with medical bureaucracy can be a headache. These tips work for just about any negotiation scenario though, so I hope they’ll come in handy for you. A lot of it goes back to the idea of being gracious, patient, and kind. Those attributes will help you win people over to see your side and look at the situation in a new light.

  3. Perhaps you might be able to site what passage(s) from the Bible covers negotiating a reduction in your cell phone plan?? Sounds to me like you might be scamming these nice readers into buying one of your overpriced books.

    People: The tips you need to living financially secure are not found in the bible or this guys books. They are found by working hard, researching your best options, and taking advice from a multitude of sources and forming your own opinion.

    Then again, if you are so short sited and dim-witted to thing that the Bible holds these kinds of answered then perhaps I can sell you a Bridge in Brooklyn as that transaction would help put me on the road to financial freedom too.

  4. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, Double D.

    I’ve never claimed that every article I’ll write can be backed up with Bible verses. In fact, I wrote about that exact idea in “Show Me in the Scriptures…“. The Bible actually backs up your advice to the “People” – we should work hard, seek wisdom and good advice, and make prudent choices. Additionally, the Bible teaches that we should seek contentment, avoid get-rich-quick schemes, take care of the resources we have, and strive to help others as much as possible. The Bible doesn’t have the specific answers for which bank to choose, how to get out of debt, or which stocks to buy. But God has taught us principles through the Bible which can guide us in making wise financial choices and honoring Him with our wealth.

    I actually don’t have anything for sale on this site. I have one e-book available on the site, but it’s free. I may eventually write a book or two, but they certainly won’t be overpriced. I’m not seeking to rip people off. I just want to help them make good financial decisions.

    Thanks again for your comment.