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This is a guest post by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, host of the AARP Pay Down Your Debt Challenge, which is taking place on AARP.org through Jan. 29. Learn how to get started paying down your debt, join the Pay Down Your Debt group, and you could have a chance to win a prize.
By Lynnette-Khalfani Cox
If you're a truly cost-conscious person, you probably don't mind someone calling you frugal - or even a cheapskate.
In fact, you may relish those titles, simply because you enjoy saving money and look for every opportunity to do so. It's a mindset (and sometimes a game) to see where you can constantly cost-cut and save, even when you're spending.
My colleague and AARP expert Jeff Yeager, author of The Cheapskate Next Door, has great tips for the ultra frugal among you.
But I've come to believe that one of the best ways to save money - and to avoid debt - is to always negotiate as a way to lower your costs.
Here's a quick case in point:
My daughter Alexis recently had adenoid surgery. It was over $20,000. Our insurance covered most of it, but I got a bill for $2,100 from the surgery center. Long-story short, I could've just paid the bill. After all, those were the expenses the facility charge and I had the money.
But I also know that you can negotiate fees with medical facilities and clinics. So I simply called, asked for a discount and said: "If I paid this bill in full right now, will you accept $1,500?" The lady went to the billing gurus at the clinic and they agreed to shave roughly 20% or about $420 off the bill. I paid it on the spot.
The lesson here: you should always be thinking about ways to save a dollar (or even a dime)! And there's no better place to start than bills you already owe.
I'm not saying you should try to get out of paying those credit card debts that you've charged. Each one of us should be financially responsible and repay to the best of our abilities. But there are also times - particularly when you're on a very tight budget - that negotiation can be a handy skill to learn and implement.
Negotiating is a simple solution that can help you slash high or unaffordable bills, and avoid debt too.
NOTE: To be eligible for the weekly and overall prizes in the Pay Down Your Debt Challenge, make sure to use the red debt tracker. The first time you use the tracker, you will see a prompt about entering the contest. Leave the box checked if you want to enter.
Here's a personal message from Lynnette about the Pay Down Your Debt Challenge.