I negotiated a discount on my $1,350 rent

Name: Vanessa Pennington
Age: 27
Location: Chicago, Ill.
Occupation: Social worker

After scouring Craigslist, Vanessa Pennington found the perfect place: a homey two-bedroom in a brownstone that was just a short commute from her work and close to the trains and dozens of coffee shops. The only problem? The $1,350 monthly rent was just over what she, a social worker, and her med-student husband were willing to pay. "It seemed like a mortgage to me," said Pennington, who had hoped to find a place for not more than $1,300. Fifty bucks a month might not seem like a lot, but over a year, $600 was a good chunk. "We're trying to save for a house, so every dollar counts." So she asked the landlord to drop his price. He didn't bite.

The Penningtons weren't in a hurry to move, so Vanessa kept looking. She found a smaller unit in a nearby building for $1,200 and called the first landlord back. She knew she didn't want that apartment, she says, "but I had a bargaining chip." She told him about the cheaper apartment, then offered him $1,300 again. Once again, the landlord said no.

A few weeks later, Vanessa made her final pitch. "I just laid it out there and acted really confident," Vanessa said. "I told him I definitely wanted the place, but I'd only be willing to pay $1,300." Vanessa emphasized how careful she and her husband would be as tenants; maybe that swayed him. Or maybe it was the month the apartment had sat vacant. Vanessa didn't know, and she didn't really care. He said yes, and she said, "Thank you."

—As told to Stephanie Miles

Remember, two years ago, when this might have NEVER happened? More bargaining power: one small upside to a recession. How much have you successfully lopped off your rent? Share your stories and advice in the comments.

Do you have a money quandary? A success story? A cautionary tale? We'd love to hear from you. Send an email to editors@bundle.com and include a photo.

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