7 Things You Didn't Know You Should Negotiate, and How to Get the Best Deal

iStock
iStock

Most people know that they should try to negotiate a higher salary or a better deal on a car, but you may not whip out your haggling skills on everyday purchases. And that's probably a mistake, according to Chelsea Fagan from The Financial Diet. In this video spotted by Digg, Fagan shares some tips and tricks for getting the best deal, and making sure you aren't letting discounts pass you by.

She suggests letting go of the stigma of trying to haggle, and making sure to ask for discounts and look for deals on medical bills, subscription services, your rent, your insurance plan, credit card fees, furniture costs, and work benefits.

Here's how:

Check your medical bills carefully, because according to Fagan, somewhere around 30 to 40 percent of medical bills contain errors, so the chances of you finding a mistake are way higher than you might think. If you can't afford your bill, call your doctor's office and ask if there's anything they can do to help, like lowering the cost or setting up a payment plan. Make sure to call as soon as possible, though, before the bill goes to a debt collector.

Next, you should know that threatening to cancel your cell phone service or newspaper subscription can be highly effective. Subscription services will often give you a discount if you're thinking about leaving.

When it comes to rent, you may think there isn't wiggle room. But it can cost landlords significant money, time, and hassle to replace a tenant, and you should use that to your advantage when it comes time to renew your lease. It may not work in super-hot real estate markets, but if you're a good tenant, your landlord probably wants you to stick around.

Insurance costs may also seem impossible to negotiate, but month-to-month premiums and costs aren't as fixed as you might think, especially when it comes to car insurance. Even if they can't lower your bills during negotiation, you might be able to get benefits and perks that weren't originally included.

Make sure you're getting the best deal you can on your credit card, too. You can sometimes get your annual credit card fee waived or receive a higher credit limit just by asking, so don't be shy.

If you're buying something major for your home like a new washer-dryer combo or a full living room set, know that many stores will negotiate with you over big purchases. If you go shopping at the end of the month, for instance, sales staff might have a monthly sales goal they're trying to hit, and might be more willing to knock off a portion of the price just to make the sale.

And last, when it comes time to ask for that raise, don't stick to just demanding a higher paycheck. Vacation time, sick leave, retirement plans, and other salary benefits are all negotiable. If you can't get a higher salary from your boss, you might be able to get more vacation time or flexible work hours.

Fagan recommends that no matter what you're trying to haggle over, you're better off talking to a human. That means calling up your doctor's office, your cell phone carrier, or anyone else you're trying to negotiate with and asking for a customer service representative, instead of dealing with bills online or through the mail. Sometimes, these customer service workers might have some allowances they're allowed to give out, or in the case of shopping, a retail employee might have sales goals or make commissions, so they're incentivized to help you out.

Let Fagan break it down for you further in the video below.

[h/t Digg]

6 Fun Backgrounds to Use on Your Next Video Call

You might be stuck in the living room, but it doesn't have to look like it.
You might be stuck in the living room, but it doesn't have to look like it.
Ridofranz/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re struggling to find a perfectly decorated wall in your house to serve as the backdrop for your video calls with friends, family, and coworkers, we have good news: Video conferencing platform Zoom lets you customize your very own virtual background.

To do it, log into your Zoom account, go to “Settings” on the left side of your screen, and choose the "Meeting" tab. Scroll down to the “In Meeting (Advanced)” section, and then scroll down farther to make sure the “Virtual background” option is enabled. After that, open the Zoom application on your desktop, click on the “Settings” wheel in the upper right corner, and go to “Virtual Background.” There are a few automatic options, but you can choose your own image from your computer files by clicking on the plus-sign icon.

Now, the only thing left to do is decide which image will best set the tone for your next video call. From the New York Public Library’s Rose Reading Room to Schitt’s Creek’s Rosebud Motel, here are six of our favorites.

1. The Rosebud Motel lobby from Schitt’s Creek

schitt's creek rose motel lobby
It's not the Ritz-Carlton.
CBC

You can imagine that David is just out of frame, doing his best to carry on a silent—albeit with lots of expressive gesturing—conversation with Stevie at the front desk. (More Schitt's Creek backgrounds here.)

2. Carl and Ellie’s house from Up

carl and ellie's house from up
Balloons not included.
Walt Disney Pictures

If you’re hoping to create a calming atmosphere, look no further than the cozy little sitting room where Carl and Ellie grew old together in 2009's Up. (More Pixar backgrounds here.)

3. The attic study from Knives Out

knives out attic study
Nothing bad has ever happened here.
Lionsgate

If your own study isn’t quite teeming with intriguing souvenirs and leather-bound volumes, feel free to borrow this one from the mansion in 2019’s Knives Out. (More Knives Out backgrounds here.)

4. The USS Enterprise from Star Trek

star trek's uss enterprise bridge
A great way to get your coworkers to fess up to being huge Trekkies.
TrekCore.com, Twitter

Blame your spotty internet connection on the fact that you’re traveling through the galaxy at the speed of light with this background from the bridge of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise. (More Star Trek backgrounds here.)

5. The New York Public Library’s Rose Reading Room

new york public library reading room
You reserve the right to shush any coworkers who forgot to mute themselves.
New York Public Library

Bibliophiles who can’t make it to the library can still pay a virtual visit to the sumptuous Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library’s iconic Fifth Avenue location. (More New York Public Library backgrounds here.)

6. The Werk Room from RuPaul’s Drag Race

rupaul's drag race werk room
Sashay away from the screen if you're taking a bathroom break during the call.
VH1

Dazzle your coworkers by calling in from the vibrant room where all the magic—and most of the drama—happens on RuPaul’s Drag Race. If you happen to be decked out in an ensemble made entirely of things you found at the Dollar Store, even better. (More RuPaul's Drag Race backgrounds here.)

You Can Now Order—and Donate—Girl Scout Cookies Online

It's OK if you decide to ignore the recommended serving size on a box of these beauties.
It's OK if you decide to ignore the recommended serving size on a box of these beauties.
Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts may have temporarily suspended both cookie booths and door-to-door sales to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be deprived of your annual supply of everyone’s favorite boxed baked goods. Instead, you can now order Thin Mints, Tagalongs, and all the other classic cookies online—or donate them to local charities.

When you enter your ZIP code on the “Girl Scouts Cookie Care” page, it’ll take you to a digital order form for the nearest Girl Scouts organization in your area. Then, simply choose your cookies—which cost $5 or $6 per box—and check out with your payment and shipping information. There’s a minimum of four boxes for each order, and shipping fees vary based on quantity.

Below the list of cookies is a “Donate Cookies” option, which doesn’t count toward your own order total and doesn’t cost any extra to ship. You get to choose how many boxes to donate, but the Girl Scouts decide which kinds of cookies to send and where exactly to send them (the charity, organization, or group of people benefiting from your donation is listed on the order form). There’s a pretty wide range of recipients, and some are specific to healthcare workers—especially in regions with particularly large coronavirus outbreaks. The Girl Scouts of Greater New York, for example, are sending donations to NYC Health + Hospitals, while the Girl Scouts of Western Washington have simply listed “COVID-19 Responders” as their recipients.

Taking their cookie business online isn’t the only way the Girl Scouts are adapting to the ‘stay home’ mandates happening across the country. They’ve also launched “Girl Scouts at Home,” a digital platform filled with self-guided activities so Girl Scouts can continue to learn skills and earn badges without venturing farther than their own backyard. Resources are categorized by grade level and include everything from mastering the basics of coding to building a life vest for a Corgi (though the video instructions for that haven’t been posted yet).

“For 108 years, Girl Scouts has been there in times of crisis and turmoil,” Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo said in a press release. “And today we are stepping forward with new initiatives to help girls, their families, and consumers connect, explore, find comfort, and take action.”

You can order cookies here, and explore “Girl Scouts at Home” here.

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