Do yourself a favour, negotiate your way to a better Christmas!

With grim news handed down in this week’s Federal Budget, with little optimism about the cost of living pressures over the next 2 years, you may feel like there’s not much you can do about the impact to your own budget.

However, there’s a good chance you could change your circumstances, in time to put more fat in your wallet this Christmas – but it will mean taking on something you may not feel entirely comfortable with at first glance.

Notoriously, Australians are very polite, we don’t want to rock the boat by negotiating a better price, as it may appear rude. Unfortunately, that means we often let opportunities to increase our budget pass us by.

This doesn’t have to mean days spent analysing your finances, it means looking at every day opportunities that take a few minutes, that you might not even be aware you could negotiate. It could be when buying toys for your kids, gifts for your colleagues, the monthly bills that hit your hip pocket, or with the people around you. You may want to look at the places where you currently shop and see if they negotiate (this would likely be on their website or on the wall in the store).

Now it makes sense that we don’t feel excited at the idea of negotiating, as most of us didn’t learn this skill at school and it’s not part of our culture. As a result, 87% of people feel apprehensive or uncomfortable about negotiating, it’s no wonder we don’t want to embrace it with open arms. [Source:]

So how do we get over our apprehension? In the words of the famous philosopher Nike, ‘Just do it!’ If you’re willing to have a crack at negotiating – then you might just get what you want.

At first it may feel scary to have these conversations, however, once you give it a go and get some sort of result, it will get easier and easier.

Take the attitude of, “What have I got to lose?”, and you might just land a few spikes to your budget.

Here’s five opportunities you can have a crack at trying to put more money back in your pocket this Christmas:

  1. If you’re going to buy someone you love a bar fridge (or some sort of white good) this Christmas – shop at places where they negotiate for cash, noting cash is not folded money, cash is a conversation around it’s not on credit.
    • As part of the conversation simply ask the assistant, “Is that your best price?”
  2. If you are the owner of a mortgage and feeling the pinch with all the interest rate rises – contact your bank or broker to have the conversation about rates.
    • Start by asking, “Before we start shopping around, is there anything better that can be done about our interest rate?”
  3. If the costs of Christmas celebrations are on your mind – have a conversation with your family about the possibility of pairing back this year’s experience – the aim is to start a conversation about how you might celebrate a little differently, without reducing the joy.
    • Maybe drop into the family ‘chat group’ a note about how, “The reality is we all eat too much food on Christmas, so what if we could enjoy the day with 10% less effort? Maybe float that idea if everyone “could choose one thing to (literally) take off the table this Christmas dinner, what might that be?”
  4. While we’re looking at budgets review the costs that hit your hip pocket every month, in particular the bills you pay on the necessities, such as gas, electricity, telecommunications. How many of them have you reviewed over the last 12 months OR since you started the contract for that matter? Loyalty does not pay [data point around that].
    • That may involve you contacting your [gas/electricity/phone] provider to say, “I’m thinking about changing providers, but before I do that I was wondering if is there anything that you could do on the rates that we are currently being charged?”
      • find out you’re with a good provider who values you, and is willing to review your rates, ORIf you have these conversations, you’ll either:
      • But it all starts with one phone call – so crack on, today.
      • you find out you’re with one that doesn’t, and know that it’s time to do some more work to find one that does, and switch.
  5. Finally, if you aren’t sure if you’re taking advantage of all the taxable benefits, you may want to have a conversation with your accountant to see if there’s anything that would create more cash in our pocket this Christmas? If so, work with them to get it done.

In your preparation for these conversations, you should think about what you want, as well as be ready for what they might say to you. There are three possible options:

  • If they say yes, fantastic!
  • If they say maybe, what are you going to say next?
  • And, if they say no, what are you going to say next?

For example, going to a retailer to buy a TV for your husband/wife/brother/some are important enough to buy a TV for, then your simple question is, “Is that the best price you can do on that telly?” Then wait for their response.

  • If they say yes, you say “Great, thanks!”
  • If they say maybe, say okay, “What does maybe look like? Do you need to speak to someone else?”
  • If they say no, you respond with “No problem, thank you, I just thought I would ask.”

From the outside these may seem like exhausting conversations, however, with the simple scripts noted above, you should feel that it’s possible to have these discussions. Your Christmas budget might just be better off for it!

Take a few deep breaths, have a few conversations and just ask – you can do it!

This blog was adapted as an Opinion Piece in The Sunday Telegraph, November 2022

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