HOW I MADE $500.00 IN TEN MINUTES-and you can too!

By in Saving | 16 comments

A version of this article was originally published on April 10, 2010
  “I’d like to add that negotiating is not something to be avoided or feared – it’s an everyday part of life.” Leigh Steinberg

American businessman and author summarized the importance of negotiation beautifully. Learn to negotiate, embrace it, and up your wealth and life satisfaction. Through negotiation you get more of what you want out of life!

MAIN TOPIC; My Timing Belt Needs Replacing Again?

There is hardly a consumer situation I’ve encountered that wouldn’t benefit from a little negotiation. Just got a call from the mechanic looking at my 1998 SUV with 100k miles. He had the nerve to tell me that my timing belt needed replacing. On an old car, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, unless- I had recently replaced the timing belt.

I went to my records and found that I replaced the belt 10,000 miles ago.

I didn’t remember the manual suggesting that the timing belt needed replacing  every 10,000 miles.  So, I asked the mechanic, “How long is the timing belt supposed to last?” 

He replied, “About 60K miles.”

In a matter of fact and cordial tone I stated, “You just installed a new timing belt about 10,000 miles ago; since the average life span is about 60,000 miles; I’m unwilling to pay for a new one. As you know, I have used your company exclusively for the past 6 years. What can you do for me?”

Barb’s tip: Keep a word document with every repair on every car; include, date, cost, mileage, mechanic shop, and repair completed.

Negotiating 101

Consider what an acceptable outcome is. I decided that I would be willing to split the cost of the repair with the company. Additionally, I was also willing to go to another mechanic if they would not stand by their work. I had nothing to loose.

As expected, the auto repair company agreed to cover the cost of parts, about $500.00 for the timing belt and accompanying parts, and I paid about $350.00 for the labor.

$500.00 savings, not bad for 10 minutes of my time!

PRACTICAL APPLICATION; Anything is negotiable.

The absolute worst result is “NO.”

The best result is free.

Somewhere in between is frequently where you end up.

The best negotiation is one in which both parties leave satisfied! Consider a reasonable outcome and work towards that outcome. The more you negotiate the more money you have to spend on other things or save!


Use these steps as a blueprint for your negotiations.

Negotiating Steps:                         

  1. Gather information first.
  2. Set acceptable outcomes in your mind.
  3. Let the company know what a loyal customer you are.
  4. Use the information and integrate it into a request. ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT.
  5. If necessary, state your other options to the vendor.


Get a notebook and label it: “(your name) Personal Finance” and keep it by the computer. Use it to keep all of your personal finance goals, thoughts, activities, and plans.

  • Negotiate something today. Practice with your son, daughter, husband, wife, boss, co-worker, or anyone you are dealing with.
  • Then practice again tomorrow. The more you negotiate, the more you get what you want!

image credit; sky competition

What are your negotiating experiences? What about your negotiating successes and failures? Any negotiating tips? 

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  1. Great job Barb! Everything is negotiable and if you don’t ask, you won’t get it. I got some property tax refund and it’s similar. If I didn’t go appeal, I wouldn’t get any money back!


    May 2, 2011

  2. Good job! Did the mechanic ever explain why it needed replacement so soon?


    May 2, 2011

  3. @Retire-Excellent recommendation in this market of declining real estate values. Anyone with a property evaluated for taxes during the boom should APPEAL. Thank you for mentioning this.
    @Krantcents-As I recall, it was one of those “outliers.” A rare occurrance.


    May 2, 2011

  4. Good job Barb! Auto mechanics always find some way to sneak in a charge!


    May 2, 2011

  5. Good job for sticking your guns. Saving $500 is awesome, but making it is even better.

    20 and Engaged

    May 2, 2011

  6. Hi Moneycone, Since El Carino and I don’t know much about cars, I just assume I’m being overcharged and attempt to lower the price 🙂
    @20-Agreed, making money gives you lots of flexibility and a feeling of self worth!


    May 2, 2011

  7. Fantastic Win!

    I am much tougher on the phone or in emails when it comes to negotiating, but in person I tend to get uncomfortable quickly and come off very aggressive…weird dynamic lol


    May 2, 2011

  8. Hi Barb, good intro into a negotiating session “..What can you do for me?”. Right away, it puts the burden of action on the other party, without being confrontational.

    101 Centavos

    May 3, 2011

  9. @Evan, As long as you’re putting in the effort, that’s what counts!
    @Robert, I was frustrated, but then pleased that I only had to pay part of the next repair.
    @101-Thanks, I really try to be amicable and create a win win for everyont. Appreciate the pump up!
    @Geoff- I like the quote too.


    May 3, 2011

  10. Have you considered that this may not have been such a good deal after all? Perhaps the belt didn’t really need replacing again. Perhaps you caught them in a lie so they paid for the parts and still took $350 of your money needlessly?

    I think a key step in the negotiation would be to confirm whether you really need something in the first place. Walking away is the ultimate cost saver.


    May 7, 2011

  11. You saved $500 in parts but spent $350 in labor after just 10,000 miles. That’s no saving at all. Are you prepared to spend $350 in labor after another 10,000 miles? That’s an old trick in the book used by mechanics. You didn’t save. You spend extra for bad workmanship.

    That’s not negotiation. That’s being sucked in a black hole which most mechanic carry.

    Doable Finance

    May 8, 2011

  12. @PK and Dable finance- You both have a point. Although since my car has over 100K miles, I expect to pay for repairs. That’s the cost of an old car. I could have taken the car to another mechanic for a second opinion. Then there’s the tradeoff of spending extra time shopping around for a 2nd opinion. In this case, I was unwilling to spend an extra couple of hours on the matter! Thanks for your viewpoints!


    May 8, 2011

  13. Good point Barb, in situations where the worst outcome is not likely worse than if you did nothing at all, then it can be a good idea to ask! Especially for a repair as expensive as that…

    Invest It Wisely

    May 10, 2011

  14. @Invest-In fact, I’m in the habit of asking to negotiate most of the time. The worst that can happen is that I’ll be turned down!


    May 10, 2011


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