How I got started
I remember when I was a child my Grandmother would bribe me to go shopping with her. She’d offer everything from an outfit to lunch at my favorite restaurant. The reason I refer to it as bribery is because we all knew when she went shopping, she took her time and that meant everyone else had to wait. The funny thing is that I never had a choice in the matter because I had to go with her. The bribery came from her knowledge of how a bored child could possibly misbehave in a department store which would ultimately cut her trip short. Neither of us wanted that.
So today, I look back at that time and laugh because I realize that was she was doing was bargain hunting. And she was really good at it. She was famous for coming back from those trips with designer names at discount prices because she knew where to go and took her time. She would shop for everyone she knew. I think her tactic was to find the deal first and the recipient would come later.
So now, I find myself doing the same thing (with the exception of having a granddaughter to bribe but hopefully she will come soon:-). I pride myself on being a bargain “hunter”. There really is a thrill of getting a good deal. There is a rush from getting what you want on your terms. And I must admit that when I am able to get a “hook up” I feel a little special. Since I have a bit of a rhythm going, I figured I would share some of my tips and what has worked for me. Keep in mind that these tips don’t work all of the time, but the most important thing is to get in the habit of trying them. After all “closed mouths don’t get fed,” as my Grandmother would say.
When I plan my vacations I take my time. I price transportation mid week and late at night and as far in advance as possible. Planning far in advance gives me time to gauge trends and compare prices. I also sign up for all of the discounts from my preferred airline including getting their credit cards (if it’s worth it). Sometimes they offer preferred seating and boarding or free Wi-Fi, and countless other amenities that make traveling less painful. I’ve also found that if I can’t find seats together for my party, you can always get there early and (ever so politely) ask the person at the counter if they could pleeeeaaaase help you. I’ve done this several times and it has never failed.
I love to stay in plush hotels and since I’ve stayed in several, I’ve found that even though they are initially more expensive, they tend to be much easier to get discounts and extras from after you get there. So for hotels, I pull out every coupon book and discount program that I am involved in. They usually have tons of deals for hotels. If you are willing to pre-pay you are more likely to get a better deal. However, I’ve also found that going to the hotel’s direct site or even calling them directly has gotten me wonderful rates and some will let you heap on your other discounts.
I read an article about how effective tipping can be when checking in because they have a lot of upgrade and freebies to use at their discretion and a tip is a great incentive for them to exercise that discretion. I was so excited to try this on my next trip I could barely contain myself. I had my tip ($20) folded in my hand and ready to go when I got up to the counter to check in. I simply asked if there were any upgrades or amenities that I might qualify for and flashed the cash! It was like magic! Out of nowhere the young man was able to give me a double upgrade and comp me a free night! I’ve since done it and gotten complimentary breakfast buffets and spa services. Who says that you can’t buy anything with $20 anymore? Another tip for hotels is that if you need something else, go back to that same person if possible because they are more inclined to help you in hopes of more “cash flashing”.
First off, we should first compare if there is a difference between buying in the store vs. online and weigh shipping vs. gas and convenience. If we decide to proceed online we can take the following steps.
Ok so we all know about coupon codes I hope! They are like free money to me. A good code could save you anything from percentages off to free shipping. Oftentimes signing up for their mailing list is valuable enough to a company for them to give you something so try this first. Otherwise start your online hunt. I stumbled on several rebate sites and signed up after learning that their programs give cash back for click through purchases on participating websites in addition to possible percentages off of your purchase. All of this for buying something that you was all set to buy anyway???? They won me over with “cash back”.
In addition, I’ve found that my credit cards offer some great incentives for cash back. Sometimes I have to weigh which one will give the best incentive in the timeliest fashion or if I’d prefer to have double miles instead…decisions decisions… One of my cards actually sends you a check (if you prefer) or applies it toward your balance. I’ve gotten hundreds of dollars this way. This is certainly worth checking into so always pay attention to you card’s benefits.
Another benefit that I tend to forget about is a discount program that I get through work. I was ordering birthday balloons to be delivered to my daughter and had gotten through the checkout very pleased at the discount code I’d found online. I went to check my email for the confirmation and got an email from the program my job signed us up for and looked through their discounts and found that I could’ve saved ten additional dollars!!! This leads me to the foundation of this article: never be afraid to just ask. Figuring it couldn’t hurt to ask I called back and explained about using the wrong discount code. The representative was so interested in getting a good review on the after call survey that he agreed to apply both discounts!
In person is a different set of rules. Although some people still use my Grandmother’s tactic, I am still burned from the experience and go a different route. I follow the “Managers can sometimes be your best friend” philosophy. If I find an item I like and am ready to buy I will always (ever so politely) ask if this is the best price. If they say they can’t budge on the price, I will (ever so politely) ask if they thought the manager might be able to help. Hopefully with some patience and small talk, the manager will arrive and be happy to see a customer who is not disgruntled asking for them and they are usually more than willing to give you a discount just to leave them alone-of which I am happy to oblige:-). I’ve even pulled out expired coupons, or even competitor’s coupons and asked for price matching just to see if they would do it. Sometimes it works, sometimes not but if they are inclined to do so, those managers can make it happen for you! The key is to make them want to do it for you.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found that some employees do have tools at their disposal that they can use from time to time. Like I said before, this is about developing a behavior of at least asking. Once upon a time I wanted a blazer that was so darling! Because I’ve gotten home before and found holes in garments I always give my items a good once over. As I looked my blazer over, I found a long thread hanging. I was so sad because it was the last one. It was slow so I took it up to the counter and asked the young lady if they had more in back because this one was damaged. She explained that they would probably just damage if out so if I wanted it she would give me 15% off. Sold! I happily walked out with my blazer (that is still a staple of my wardrobe), and altered it by clipping the string at home.
Ultimately this may sound like a lot of work for a few dollars, but we all know that these dollars can build up. The most important thing is to train ourselves to be mindful of our spending and take advantage of every opportunity we get. Being pleasant and respectful to people doesn’t cost anything and is something that we probably should be doing more of anyway (and not just to get a discount). But I’ve found the combination of kindly asking for something sure does get better results than asking with an attitude.
Listen, most of us work hard for our money and sacrifice a lot. So when it’s time to make a purchase for something that you totally deserve and/or need to have, you don’t just throw your money away. You investigate before you spend to make sure you are getting your money’s worth. We do it when making large purchases like homes and vehicles, why not do it when making smaller purchases too? It doesn’t cost you anything to train yourself to do these things, but it could certainly cost you more (peace of mind, comfort, and cash) if you don’t.
#discounts #travel #hotels #onlineshopping #retail
About the Author:
Foxxy Lifestyle is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Southfield Michigan. When she isn’t writing you could find her running her online boutique, coupon clipping, online shopping, or watching re-runs of The Golden Girls.
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