Ideas for everyday living

Six ways to help save money by negotiating

From high-street haggling to savvy online bookings, try these great ways to talk your way into a better deal.

A wise person once said that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And as we all look to make our money stretch further, finding ways to save on our everyday expenses can – literally – pay dividends.

Timi Merriman-Johnson is an award-winning author, podcaster and founder of Mr Money Jar, a company providing practical financial guidance. He says that we shouldn’t always believe what’s written on the price tag. “Many of us accept the price we’re given, but you don’t have to,” he says. “Always remember: the ‘R’ in RRP stands for ‘recommended’.”

Timi believes that in almost every financial situation, there’s room for negotiation – it’s just a matter of knowing how to go about it.

“Be firm in the maximum price you’re willing to pay, but be flexible in the offer you accept. You have nothing to lose by asking for money off!”

- Timi Merriman-Johnson, founder of Mr Money Jar

Timi shares his tips for bagging some decent savings.

  1. 01

    Phone and broadband contracts

    The important thing to remember is: mobile and broadband providers want to keep your custom. And once your contract expires you’re in a prime position to negotiate yourself a better deal.

    “The biggest reduction I ever got in my phone contract was by bringing up the contract price of a rival provider for the same number of texts/minutes,” says Timi. “They transferred me to their ‘retentions line’, and I was offered a discount. By all means threaten to leave, but don’t bluff. You must be prepared to leave if you don’t get the outcome you’re looking for.”

  2. 02


    It can be all too easy to simply renew insurance deals, but this is another area where renegotiating can save you pounds. Again, Timi recommends doing your homework before you begin bartering.

    “I love to use price-comparison websites for insurance products, of which there are many,” he says. “Also consider paying for insurance annually rather than monthly as this is often cheaper.”

    And don’t be talked into paying for insurance you don’t really need – especially for travel. “If it’s for an adventure holiday, you probably do need it,” Timi continues. “If it’s for a domestic train or coach trip to your nan’s, maybe don’t bother.”

  3. 03

    Household bills

    Unfortunately, as energy and utility prices rise across the board, traditional methods of cutting bills by switching providers are no longer an option – the deals simply aren’t there any more. Instead, Timi suggests renegotiating your own relationship with your energy usage.

    “I find it easier to focus on behaviour and usage rather than pricing,” he says. “The Energy Saving Trust published a very useful list of the five most energy-consuming appliances in the home and they are, in order: wet appliances such as washing machines and dryers, cold appliances like fridges, then consumer electronics, lighting and cooking appliances.”

    So turning the lights off does help, but hanging wet clothes rather than using the tumble dryer will help a whole lot more.

  4. 04


    This is another area where automatic renewal is rarely the best option. “With subscriptions, generally the best way to get them cheaper is to sign up for new-subscriber promotions, or by paying annually,” says Timi.

    And once again, don’t be afraid to threaten to cancel altogether: “Leaving subscription providers absolutely does work, and at the point of unsubscribing many services will either offer to pause your subscription, or will offer you a reduced rate for a set period to keep you.”

  5. 05


    From the big high-street chains to independent traders, Timi says that almost everyone with something to sell will be prepared to cut a deal. When buying a laptop, for example, ask if it comes with a free laptop bag.

    “In my experience, both bigger and smaller companies are happy to throw in extras,” he says. The ‘don’t ask, don’t get’ principle applies here. When buying big-ticket items like shoes, electronics or furniture, always ask if there’s a discount. Use questions like, ‘Do you have any promotions on at the moment?’

    “And definitely haggle at markets and car boot sales,” he continues. “Sellers will be more than happy to add in extras or give you money off if you’re already parting with a decent chunk of cash. Waiting until the end of the day might give you more leverage, as sellers may be looking to shift their remaining stock.”

  6. 06


    For many of us, a summer break is our biggest single expense of the year, but there are ways to shrink the cost. “One of the things I like to do with flights is to use price-comparison websites to find the cheapest prices, but book directly with the airlines, as this makes moving dates and rebooking much easier,” says Timi. “Using reward credit cards or signing up to airlines’ loyalty programmes is also a great way to get money off.

    “Many hotels will give you the option to book today, but pay on the door, which can help to manage cash flow. And most importantly, if booking online, start your holiday booking journey with a cashback website. It’s free money!”

Dominic Utton

Dominic is a journalist and author covering lifestyle, sport and entertainment.

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