How to negotiate salary and make more money in 2016

Let's ring in 2016 with a big cha-ching.

Now that gift-giving season is over, it's time to focus on you. On that annual list of New Year's resolutions, include this one: negotiate pay.

Talking salaries may stir up feelings of uneasiness, but maneuvering your way to a higher pay grade could be quite simple.

Paycheck
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In some cases, it's as easy as saying "no" to the initial offer.

You read that right. Experts say rejecting the first offer, albeit politely, could do the trick.

Katie Donovan, founder of Equal Pay Negotiations, said job seekers often accept an offer right away amid the excitement of getting a new job and the fear it could get taken away. But, there is almost always room on the other side of the negotiating table.

"It's rare for an employer to start with their highest offer. In fact, negotiation is often expected," Donovan told CNBC via phone.

About 84 percent of hiring managers expect job applicants to negotiate salary during the interview stage, according to Salary.com.

"All you're doing is meeting your new boss' expectations," Donovan added. That's a really good thing to do!"

Roughly 87 percent of employers say they've never rescinded a job offer following negotiations. And 100 percent say they've never demoted or fired an existing employee for asking for a pay increase.

With these odds, it seems like a "no-brainer."

Still, few workers ask for more. A 2015 PayScale.com survey revealed that only 43 percent of people negotiate their salary, and 75 percent of those that ask, receive one.

Sarah Toben, founder and lead interview coach at Elite Interview Coaching, said workers shouldn't hesitate to request an additional 5 percent during salary talks.

"Most job applicants are leaving money on the table. Eight out of 10 clients tell me that they have never counter-offered in a salary negotiation," Toben said.

Over a working lifetime, that could add up significantly resulting in an earnings gap.

Researchers at George Mason University and Temple University found that a 25-year-old who negotiated a starting salary of $55,000, for example, will earn an extra $634,000 over their career. That's compared to someone who accepted an initial offer of $50,000, and it assumes a 5 percent average annual pay increase over a 40-year span.

"That gives you a good indication of why it's so important to start negotiations early in your career," explains Lydia Frank, a senior director at PayScale.com.

It may not be comfortable, but chances are it's worth asking.