Frugal Living Tip: Asking for a Discount

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!).Asking for a discount

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.  Full Jacket Having trouble finding it?  I figured you would.  So I zoomed in to help you find  the difference.  Can you spot it now?

Combined Zipper

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!

Conclusion

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!

-Bert

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11 thoughts on “Frugal Living Tip: Asking for a Discount

  1. Hi Bert,
    Good job on the savings! I had to laugh about the minivan deal – it reminded me of the Get Shorty movie where John Travolta played up the offered minivan to his advantage: “this isn’t just a minivan…it’s the Cadillac of minivans”.

    I don’t usually haggle much as most things I purchase are online so I just shop around mostly.
    However last month I tried to get a discount on my cable & internet service as a 12-month price reduction expired and the package price went up to $133 a month. I called them up and explained that I wanted to save maybe $20 a month but all they offered was a $125 for 12 months if I added a phone (which I didn’t want) and a new modem (which I didn’t want) and the price would increase to $145 (!) after 12 months (which I really didn’t want).

    So this month I’m with a new cable company with the same level of service for $80 a month. This includes an additional $5 a month saving I got just for asking if they had any discounts 🙂

    Best wishes,
    -DL

    • Thanks DL!

      I wasn’t familiar with the clip, so I just watched it on Youtube…hilarious. I was just like John Travlota all week, opening and shutting the doors with the keys from a distance haha

      That’s interesting that your cable company wasn’t able to work with you more on the savings. I have had great results caling cable companies and I know Lanny has as well. There is no point in taking a larger bundle with services you don’t need just to reduce the price. It is great tha tyou were just willing to pull the plug on your relationship with the company and switch to the new provider. Some people would forgoe the savings just becase they do no want to deal with the hassle of swithing and having a stranger walk into their house to set up the new system. Isn’t it a backwards system when a company will be willing to let a current customer walk in favor of a cheaper competitor.

      Again, nice savings! I’m sure you will be much happier at this new company and the quality of cable/internet isn’t work the premium to stay. Just by switching and resisting the urge to maintain the status quo, you saved 39% per month. What’s cool is that you were to invest your savings each month in a divided paying stock, you turned that sunk cost into a $636 investment generating $22 in annual dividend income (assuming a 3.5% dividend rate).

      Thanks for stopping by. I can’t wait until my current cable promotion expiress in 6 months and I get to battle it out with them!

      Bert

  2. Good job on asking the merchants for a discount. This is something my mom always do, especially when she purchases items with cash. I’ve definitely phoned cellphone and internet providers for discounts before and it worked like a charm.

    • Thanks Tawcan! Cell phone providers have been difficult for me. What kind of tips do you have to offer?

      I think your mom holds the key to negotiating, pay with cash! For small businesses and individual vendors, they are much more willing to haggle if they can receive the cash immediately. They save on credit card fees, which can get expensive if you do not have the economies of scale to reduce the cost per transaction.

      Don’t forget to share any advice haha Thanks for stopping by!

      Bert

  3. Hi DividendDiplomats

    Good to be interacting with you again 🙂

    A very timely article given that Xmas is around the corner.

    In Asia here, the one thing we usually ask is whether the shop or restaurant we visit have a credit card discount. Some vendor give specific discount if you are using Visa or Amex but they dont usually announce it out. As you said it doesnt hurt to ask.

    Also I dont know if you have those garage sale in US over there where you can negotiate the price. Many people use the tactic of leaving if the discounts are not unwarranted so its an interesting piece art of negotiation there.

    • Welcome back! Glad to interact again as well.

      That’s interesting that they do not announce a credit card discount. I understand that they would prefer cash over credit for transactions to reduce fees, but I could see a restaurant gaining more customers from advertising a credit card discount. In the long run, gaining a larger credit card customer base would have to be more beneficial for their business than saving a percent or two on credit card fees, right? Regardless, it can’t hurt to ask so at least YOU can benefit from this!

      That tactic works very well over here. It can be a bit of a gamble, but if you think the product is overpriced and the product will e available on the last day of the garage sale, you can always walk away and return on the last day to receive a large discount. By the last day, the family just wants to get rid of the stuff so it doesn’t sit around their house until the next garage sale. I plan on giving garage sale flipping a shot this spring, so I’ll be able to give you a case study on this strategy!

      Again, thanks for stopping by. I am looking forward to more future interactions!

      Bert

  4. Hi,

    Good jobs on getting the discount. I do pretty much the same. I always ask for the same and since I go most of the time to the same stores I get the discount.

    Cheers,
    G

    • Thanks G! As I said in the article, it never hurts to ask. Have you found greater success in getting discounts as a returning customer? What kind of shops are they? Small businesses or larger chains? I imagine that would be the case since you have provided the same stores with so much business over the years.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Bert

  5. Bert,

    This is the first time I came across your guys site. I like what I see, I’ll definitely be checking it out in the next little while. I commonly use this technique with such items as my mobile phone, internet, and insurance every couple months to see if there are any deals to be had. It’s quite amazing how quickly the savings can add up over the year just from asking if there is a deal to be had.

    Mr. Captain Cash

    • Mr. Captain Cash,

      Thanks for stopping by and the kind words. We are glad you were able to stumble upon our website. $5 here, $10 there, with another $2.50, and so on adds up after a while. For me, every dollar I save will be added onto my next dividend stock investment, so I will be turning the savings generate by asking a simple question into income producing assets. Very nice trade-off in my opinion.

      Bert

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