For most of us, life gets so busy that retirement finances become an afterthought. But once you do make it to retirement, finding ways to save money is essential. Even with a sizable nest egg, a fixed income limits how much you can reasonably spend. Unless you plan to go back to work part-time during retirement, you’ll need to lower your costs as much as possible to effectively stretch your retirement income as far as it’ll go. One excellent starting point to consider is negotiating down the cost of required services.
Not all of your service providers will be willing to negotiate, especially if it’s a service without competition. However, as long as there’s a competitive market for your money with that service, chances are good that an hour or two on the phone could result in hundreds of dollars in savings. Shopping around for a better deal can be useful as well. You may find success saving money on the services you require most, like auto insurance, home internet, wireless phone service and even rent.
- Auto insurance rates
Your auto insurance rates are determined by a wide range of factors, such as your age, driving history, the make and model of your vehicle, and the frequency of accidents and claims in your area. Car insurance may be a necessary part of owning a car, but you can find your best rates by shopping around and asking about senior discounts.
Look for quotes from multiple providers, and include both regional and national insurance companies. While this may seem like a daunting task, it’s helpful to keep in mind that the major players in the space make up 72% of the market share, so it may only be a few phone calls to add to your to-do list. Should you find that they offer lower rates for similar (or better) coverage, consider switching providers. Just make sure that you maintain the same level of coverage, at a minimum, and that you’re coming in at a lower rate.
Renting during retirement (compared to homeownership) is exceedingly common and growing in popularity. That’s becoming a problem, however, as the rental rates are increasing across the U.S. Retirees that chose to rent instead of buy may be facing a much higher cost of living than expected as landlords up the rent to compensate for economic pressures, including rising inflation and COVID-19 eviction moratoriums.
Retirees who own homes have been able to avoid these issues, but renters may be seeing their rent payments go up as the time to renew the lease comes up. There are no guarantees to negotiating rent, especially if you’re renting from a company instead of an individual. That said, these tips may be helpful:
- Timing. Try to negotiate the rental price before the lease expires. Additionally, try to negotiate the rent during a time of year when fewer people are moving or looking for housing.
- Compare prices. This strategy is great for any type of price negotiation. Look at prices for other rental properties that are similar and use that information to help you negotiate the price of your rental.
- Leverage your relationship. Taking on a new renter is always a risk for a landlord. If you have a good history with your existing landlord, use that to your advantage while negotiating.
- Strategize. Typically, a good strategy is to ask for more than you want, and then get the other side to negotiate downward. For example, if all you want is to keep your rent from rising higher, then you should ask for a lower rate instead.
Rental negotiations can get touchy, especially if you rent from a private individual. This is part of why you should consider making that negotiation long before the lease expires. You may ultimately need to find a new rental. If so, look for ways to negotiate a lower-than-advertised rate at a new rental, such as agreeing to rent the apartment or house for a longer period of time.
Bonus tip: If negotiating the actual rent payment doesn’t prove as successful as you’d wish, remember to also look for cost savings on other housing expenses, such as renters insurance. See if you can get a bundle deal to lump your auto and renters policies together for a discount. It may provide only modest savings, but anything back in your pocket can make a difference.
- Home internet and mobile service
Negotiating a lower cost for home internet and mobile service providers is going to be contingent on whether you have at least one other provider available for your address. If you’re not sure what companies offer high-speed internet to your home, there are tools available like HighSpeedInternet.com to see what providers are available in your ZIP code. For mobile phone providers, a useful tool is Signal Checker.
From there, call each listed provider to verify; in some cases, a provider may offer service in a ZIP code but not at every address within that ZIP code. If you find that a competing provider exists for your address, get a rate quote. Assuming the rate would be lower than what you’re currently paying your internet service provider (ISP) or mobile service provider, you can use that to negotiate a lower rate.
If there is no competing ISP that provides service to your home, consider some alternative options for negotiation. For example, if you’re trying to switch ISPs, you could tell your current provider that you will switch to emerging satellite services.
ISPs and mobile wireless providers are facing increasing competition in today’s market. That gives you far more negotiation power than in the past for internet and phone service. Chances are good that you’ll be successful here as long as you’re committed to escalating your request until you get to someone within the company who is authorized to lower your rate.
A good rule of thumb during retirement is to look for cost savings wherever possible. Indeed, some service providers are willing to work with retirees to lower rates, as they may understand that retirees are living on a fixed income. Whether you achieve lower rates through senior discounts, shopping around or spending hours on the phone with managers, some regular expenses can be effectively lowered, even if it ultimately means switching to a different provider.
Maxime Rieman is Product Manager at ValuePenguin. Educating and assisting shoppers about financial products has been Rieman's focus, which led her to joining ValuePenguin, a consumer research and advice company based in New York. Previously, she was product marketing director at CoverWallet and launched the personal insurance team at NerdWallet.
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