As we start to reach retirement age, many of us are facing a harsh reality. We simply didn’t save enough for retirement.

Some of us planned to continue working into our 70s, only to be pushed out by the very companies we dedicated ourselves to for decades. Others miscalculated how much money we needed to retire comfortably. Still others lost a significant percentage of our savings in the Great Recession.

Well, we’re here now. There’s nothing that we can do to change the past, but, we can take proactive steps to protect our future.

Two Traditional Approaches: Make More Money or Spend Less Money

When you ask retirement experts what you can do to improve your financial situation in retirement, they typically give you 1 of 2 responses – make more money or spend less money.

There’s nothing wrong with this advice. One of the reasons that I started Sixty and Me – beyond my desire to help people my age to get more from life – was to create a business that would help to secure my own future.

My success with Sixty and Me makes me living proof that starting a thriving business after 60 is possible. Does it take hard work and grit? Absolutely! Will you start making money right away? Nope – it may take you years of blood, sweat and tears to find a model that works. But, can it work? Yes, it can. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

The other option that financial experts give retirees is to spend less. This is another strategy that has worked well for me. Like many women my age, I made the decision to downsize my home and move into a small studio apartment. I was also ruthless in cancelling any recurring services (cable TV, magazines, etc) that weren’t bringing happiness into my life.

These two approaches are helpful, but, are they aren’t enough. What if I told you that there was an easy way to save 10-20% on all of your major purchases without clipping coupons or spending hours comparison shopping? Would you be interested? I thought you would!

Why Strong Negotiating Skills Are Essential in Retirement

When people think about negotiating, they tend to imagine loud, aggressive discussions between alpha males banging their fists on the table and demanding lower prices.

In my experience, some of the best negotiators are quiet, respectful and, most importantly, patient. This is exactly why I think that people our age have such a big opportunity when it comes to negotiating.

So, what is the first key to negotiating as an older adult? It’s simple… just do it! Really, I’m serious here! You would be shocked by how many discounts I have received simply by asking, in a sweet voice, “Oh, that’s nice. What kind of a discount can you give me on it?”

25% of the time, especially for large-ticket items, the sales person offers an immediate 10-20% discount. If not, I simply follow up with “That’s too bad.” <Sad sweet little old lady face> “Are there any conditions under which you would be able to offer me a discount? It’s a bit out of my price range.” This second question is often met with a response like “Ok, tell you what, you seem like a nice person. Let me have a quick chat with my manager.”

If this fails, I sigh and start walking to the door. If the sales person is authorized to offer a discount, he will almost certainly do it then.

Of course, there is a lot more to negotiating than this. I like to shop for big items at the end of the financial quarter, when most sales people are trying to make their quota. I also have no problem with shutting my mouth and letting an awkward silence set in. But, most importantly, I just do it.

If you really want to dive into the art of ethical negotiating, I highly recommend reading Negotiation Genius, by Deepak Malhotra.

In fact, if enough people ask me to do so, I will probably write a separate article with a few of the specific negotiating tricks that work for me. But, for now, I would love you to simply practice asking for discounts.

Of course, it goes without saying that you will only save money if you only negotiate on essential items that you already needed. But, if you apply this approach, I promise that you will see results!

If you find this approach interesting, please give it a try. Then, share your negotiation successes and learnings in the comments section below.

Do you agree that negotiating skills are essential for all older adults? Do you usually negotiate, especially on expensive items? Would you like me to write a second article with my best negotiating tips? Please join the conversation.

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