During this time of uncertainty, everyone is looking for ways to save money. Even small amounts can add up to an emergency fund or just that added bit of security we need to get us through. Here’s an easy money tip that has saved me thousands over the years.
The Money Tip that Saves Thousands
When I was a new college graduate, I had forgotten to pay my credit card. I was charged a fee of $40, a lot of money for me at the time.
My parents were frugal and I assumed they had never made such a stupid mistake and would yell at me if they knew. I was so embarrassed and ashamed.
But I told my parents about it. I don’t know why. Maybe I was drunk.
They said, “Call the bank and they’ll waive it.”
What? It’s my fault. They would never help me out. Banks work to bilk dumb consumers like me out of every hard-earned dollar we have! I really wanted to toss my parents’ advice out the window.
But every so often I play the obedient daughter. I called the bank.
They waived the fee. It. Felt. Amazing.
So the easy money tip I use to save thousands: ask.
How I’ve Saved Money By Asking
It’s so easy. Ask if a company will waive their fees. It won’t work every time, but it’ll work some of the time. You just have to be diligent.
I’ve received a 3.4oz cologne for the price of a 1.7oz when the 1.7oz size was out of stock. When I noticed that the ring my boyfriend had purchased was a different price online than what he paid, they refunded the thousand dollars in difference. I’ve received discounts after mentioning coupons or promotions online. Some websites give you the option of making an offer to a seller, allowing you to get the same item for a reduced price. I always take advantage of these options because you never know when you’ll get lucky.
If you check your receipts, you may find discounts that weren’t picked up by the scanner. Often, stores are happy to offer the right price. They even may honor the price you saw if their marketing was misleading. If a product is out of stock, many stores will offer rain checks or other products in their place. It just requires you to do a little diligence and do that magic act of asking.
How I’ve Saved Money By Not Asking
You may not even need to ask for the discount to get one. For example, my apartment does this incredibly skeezy thing where it’ll send you a letter if you miss a payment even by a day, and tell you you’ll be evicted if you don’t pay your rent plus 10% of your rent in late fees.
I thought about asking for the fee to be waived but I could feel myself getting angry. So instead of paying the fee, I just paid my rent without the fee and went about my day.
A day or so later, I got an email thanking me for my payment and waiving the late fee. Bingo! Several hundred dollars saved without even talking to anyone. But of course, that was a bit of dumb luck and I don’t recommend ignoring. I do recommend patience.
Many foreign nationals live in my building. I’m sure they get scared and just pay up because of these scary letters. My advice – don’t be hasty to pay. Before you do anything, ask if fees can be lowered.
And just as a disclaimer, I’m not saying you can steal from stores or scam people out of their deserved money for providing services.
But if you are having trouble paying for something, there’s no harm in asking. It could save you a lot of money and even make you feel a little more assertive.
Asking For Discounts During COVID-19
During the early part of the lockdown, many companies involved in housing, utilities, student loans, and travel among those offering discounts and leniency. Many of those companies have since stopped advertising this leniency but it doesn’t mean that they won’t.
It’s a weird time when we can easily feel like we have no control over anything. But we have some control. We can ask for help. This can help boost our confidence, our assertiveness, and our internal locus of control, let alone our finances.
The Benefits of Asking
My parents were middle-class immigrants and they regularly asked for discounts and haggled. It was embarrassing, but it got results.
Asking for favors can be a little embarrassing. And that’s exactly why we should do it. When we do things that are potentially embarrassing and we don’t die, we can gain all sorts of positives.
Entrepreneur Noah Kagan even created a Coffee Discount Challenge – whereby he encouraged people to ask for a 10% discount on their coffee. The purpose was not to get the discount but to get used to failure.
If we learn to ask more questions, we become more comfortable getting into difficult but necessary situations. Asking good questions can help us in our relationships to navigate difficult situations. If we learn to ask questions in law school or in our work, we get the help we need. And on those encounters where we are successful, we get a little bit more optimistic about the world. We start to believe that we might be able to get what we ultimately want – and that’s a very positive result indeed.
Conclusion – The Easy Money Tip that Saved Me Thousands
Once when I was late for a flight, I asked all the people in line in front of me if I could cut in line. They all said yes. It has really helped me believe that people are good and willing to help others. And sometimes with all the negative news we see suggesting otherwise, we can all use a evidence of good in our lives.
Have you ever asked for a fee reduction? When was the last time you asked for a favor?