Low on Cash? Things Whose Prices Can Be Negotiated

June 16, 2023

Searching for discounts to make ends meet can be exhausting. But there’s one savings tactic that cash-strapped folks can sometimes overlook, and that is negotiating better prices.

We’re not talking about haggling at flea markets – although if that is your talent then go for it! In fact, there are a surprising number of areas where regular folks can simply ask for prices to be lowered, and possibly be successful. If you’re one of the many hard-working consumers who doesn’t overspend and still needs to save a few extra bucks, take a look at these suggestions below. They are just some of the areas where people can benefit by negotiating to lower prices.

Your Rent

If you come armed with the right information, you may be able to negotiate the cost of the very roof over your head – as in, your monthly rent. Apartmentlist.com even provides some pretty savvy tips for someone hoping to take their rent down a notch.

  1. Show you’re a reliable tennant.
  2. Arrive armed with information.
  3. Do the math, and know your limits.
  4. Prepare an application.

Combined with other hacks for cutting down on expenses in the Chicago area – from having a roommate to free library resources – you may be able to take the edge off your monthly expenses.

Thrift Stores and Lightly Used or Damaged Products

Ever shop at thrift stores or other second-hand shops? They don’t all operate in the same way, opening the door to opportunities to find better deals. Some are known for pricing items at a single price regardless of quality. If something you need catches your eye and it happens to be slightly damaged, that presents an opportunity to ask for a discount on the item.

Phone, Cable, Internet and Other Monthly Services

In many households, recurring bills that might be able to provide a better deal include:

  • Cable tv
  • Cell phone
  • Home phone service
  • Home security system
  • Subscriptions
  • Gym memberships
  • Bundled services
  • Even credit card interest


Did you know that some wireless network providers offer discounted rates to customers who pay through debit cards or checks instead of credit cards? If you haven’t asked, you might not. With these types of companies, the devil is in the details, so be sure to get an estimate of what your total monthly bill will be going forward before requesting any changes.

Sometimes, in the process of negotiating, people stumble upon opportunities to pay less they didn’t even know about. That’s why it’s so important to regularly contact providers of phone, internet, cable and other monthly services. They have a habit of changing their rates, raising prices or altering the way they charge – so be sure you’re getting the best possible deals.

Ask to Remove Financial Penalties Such as Credit Card Late Payments

Perhaps because penalties like late payments are separate from your standard monthly obligation, they can be subject to negotiation, as well. You may need to call the bank or credit card provider to make it happen, but financial companies do allow for some leeway in this area, particularly if it’s your first time missing a payment.

As always, the rule of thumb should be: it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Anything Sold Privately, from Cars to Furniture to Housing

There is often a lot of leeway when it comes to negotiating privately sold items. Folks may feel impatient to get rid of their old car, or maybe they’re planning to move and want to sell that furniture asap. If it’s not in a formal setting like a storefront, find out if there’s wiggle room to lower that price tag. And don’t hesitate to turn on the charm. Your friendly face might be enough to win them over.

Utility Bill Relief, Debt Forgiveness in Chicago & Low-Income Federal Programs

Utility Billing Relief (UBR) provides low-income Chicago residents a reduced rate on certain bills, as well as debt relief for qualifying participants. According to their website, you could end up seeing:

  1. A reduced rate on water, sewer, and water-sewer tax
  2. No late payment penalties or debt collection activity
  3. Debt forgiveness after completing one year with no past due balance

Residents outside of Chicago may also be eligible for the Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), a federally funded program to help low-income households pay their past due water and wastewater (sewer) bills.

If you need assistance, visit www.cedaorg.net or call 1-800-571-2332 to learn more.

Prepaid Debit Cards, Auto & Financial Services at South Suburban Currency Exchange (SSCE)

Simply visiting one of Chicago’s South Suburban Community Exchanges (SSCEs) can give you an edge on your finances. At SSCE, we offer a broad range of auto and financial services for local folks who need them. If you’re tired of credit card debt, consider using a prepaid debit card, which only lets you spend what you already have.

SSCE helps south suburban residents stay on top of their finances by offering many convenient services – all under one roof! We’ll take care of your check cashing and electronic bill payment needs in minutes. Find your nearest location or check out what else we offer online and get on top of your finances today!

Two people looking through a pile of clothes.