I am relatively new to the frugal living lifestyle, as I didn’t even begin tracking my savings rate and monitoring my expenses with a fine tooth comb until a few months ago! But now, since I have accepted the Dividend Diplomats’ 60% Savings Challenge where I aim to save 60% of my income each month, I have been trying to find new, innovative ways to save. Recently, I have found success saving using one new method: Asking for a Discount (If the title didn’t give it away)! Let me explain.
In the past, for some reason, I had always been reluctant to try to haggle with merchants. Part of me felt guilty that I was asking someone to lower their prices just so I can save a buck, eating away at their margin and in some cases, their only source of income. The guilt factor truly kicked in when I was purchasing an item from a street vendor, a person’s stand at a flea market or outdoor market, or a small family owned business. However, through watching television shows focused on flipping items, reading articles, and even experimenting in researching opportunities to buy and flip items myself, I overcame my guilt/reluctance to negotiate because of the substantial market that is usually hidden in the products. After all, everyone is trying to maximize the value of their assets! Once this mentality set in, I suddenly became much more aggressive haggling and I have been able to score some great deals!
Frugal Living Tip: Always Ask for Discount
That’s right, when shopping, I always carry the mentality that I will be asking for a discount. Why? Because it never hurts to ask. What is the worst that happens, the merchant says no and you pay the full price for a product you were going to purchase regardless? There is no risk. If the merchant says no, oh well. You can go to sleep easier knowing that you tried to save and it did not work. However, if you are successful, you were able to save money by uttering one question! There is no downside in asking. Since I have started asking for a discount, not only has my savings rate improved, I enjoy the products that I purchased even more because I know that I was able to get them at a reduced price. The satisfaction that comes with getting a great deal is addicting, and now I want to negotiate everything. I wanted to share some of my successes this year in practicing this tip. Here are three examples of how I was able to score a discount by asking for a discount.
Record Holder and End Table– Okay, I’ll admit. This was an example for the summer. We were looking for a record stand and an end table for our new place, which we moved into at the beginning of July. One day, we were at a flea market and came across a vendor that had two very cool pieces that were a perfect fit for our place. The end table was listed for $30 and the record-holding crate was listed for $40. For $70, we were not interested as there were plenty of other options. After discussing an offer, we asked offer to pay $40 for the pieces and eventually settled at $55. A saving of $15, or 21%, simply by asking for a discount. And now, both pieces are great additions to our home (Note: The end table is not normally kept there, we had to re-arrange some furniture for our Christmas Tree!).
Rental Car– So a few weeks ago, we had to travel with five people for work. Since all of us drive sedans, it would have been impossible to fit in one car. Instead of having two vehicles drive 3.5 hours, I was tasked with reserving an SUV for the trip. I called the rental car company the day before our trip and secured an SUV for $57/day. Great, we all would have been able to fit in the car with our luggage and a little extra room to spare. Not a lot of room, but much more than a sedan. A few hours before I was set to pick the SUV up, we received a call from the rental car company informing us that the SUV they had reserved for us was not returned on time. We were presented with two offers: they would either retrieve one from another rental car company or they offered us a mini-van for the same price. My first reaction was to laugh at the fact that I was going to be driving a mini van to our client, so I had to mute the phone and pretend I had to talk to someone about the decision. After I gathered myself, I asked the rental agent for a discount on the mini-van because the cost of gas would be higher. After he refused my first attempt to lower the price, I told him that we still wanted the SUV and they would have to get us one. Suddenly, we were offered the minivan for $45/day a savings of $12/day, or 21%! Once again, we were able to save simply by asking for a discount. Amazing! Sorry everyone, I can’t find a picture of me driving the minivan!
Jacket– For the last few months, I have been looking for a new jacket to wear in the spring and the fall. My old jacket had over 5 years of mileage on it, so it was time for an upgrade. However, I really did not want to pay the premium to get a Northface or buy another expensive jacket. A few weeks ago, Lanny and I were walking around a Wal-Mart and he pointed the jacket out to me. It was exactly what I was looking for – and for only $29! They had one small left, so it was either take the jacket or leave it. Before I finish the story, as I am sure you can see where I am going with this, I want you to see if you can find the imperfection that netted me a discount. Having trouble finding it? I figured you would. So I zoomed in to help you find the difference. Can you spot it now?
If you look closely, you will notice that the zipper for the pocket on the right does not have the plastic piece that is included on the left. This piece has no impact on the functionality of the jacket, as the only benefit it provides is that it barely makes gripping the zipper easier. Since it was the last jecket in my size, I asked for a discount and received 10% off! I saved $2.99 just for asking for a discount. Little did the know that I was going to buy the jacket regardless!
The moral of the story is that it never hurts to ask for a discount. As I mentioned above, what is the worst thing that can happen? They say no? I am very happy that I got over my fear of asking because I have definitely realized some great savings as a result. Through my recent experiences, I have discovered that people are much more willing to negotiate than they appear and if they work with me – they are more than likely to have a repeat customer. At the end of the day, they are business people and want to sell you their good and service. Most likely, you are not the first person to ask for a reduced price and you certainly won’t be the last. So just ask! You’ll be shocked with what asking can accomplish.
So enough about me. Have you had any great experiences negotiating or asking for a discount? Please share, maybe there is a technique or method we could all learn from!