If saving money is a part of your Sanity Plan, this post is for you.
I find a big portion of our financial lives to be habitual. Do you head straight for the sale rack or do you peruse the non-sale items first? Do you plan your purchases ahead of time or buy things on a whim? Do you review receipts to make sure pricing is correct or stuff the receipt in your pocket without even looking?
Over the course of a lifetime, these habits can really impact how much you spend, and therefore, how much you save.
I could discuss many, many habits but this one simple habit has saved me a lot of money recently:
The habit of asking.
What do I mean by this?
Just a simple question is often enough to get a better price. Such as: “Is this the best you can do?” or “Do you offer any discounts?” or “Are there any available promotions?”
Often a polite inquiry about a product that isn’t working for you can get you a refund or an alternative solution. “Is this how it is supposed to work?”
I’ve been doing it a long time and this habit clearly goes back to my youth. My father, the king of the hard bargain, taught me. I distinctly recall his haggling for all sorts of things, from cars to insurance to… actually, basically everything.
Recent Ways I’ve Saved Money
I have owned my beloved red 4 qt Crockpot for more than 10 years. When the handle broke, I was reluctant to replace the whole unit because it just seemed like a waste. Instead, I found replacement parts online: lids for about $15 and handles for about $5. Neither came in red. On a whim I looked up Crockpot and emailed their support group to ask if there was a way that I could purchase a red replacement lid for my model. In less than a day, they responded that my model (and therefore it’s lid) was no longer in production. They generously offered to send an entirely new Crockpot in white.
I have had a diaper and wipes subscription with Honest Company for almost 5 years (two kids in diapers, back to back). Recently, after their whole wipes debacle, I received two rounds of their replacement wipes, which were so bad that my husband demanded that I cancel the subscription. A quick phone call to Honest Support was all it took to ask what was going on with the wipes. Were these temporary? Would they be going back to their better wipes now that they resolved the mold issue? The answer: Yes, and an offer to replace all the interim wipes that had been difficult to use – even though we had used 75% of them.
Amazon has amazing customer service. They have quickly and efficiently solved almost every order problem I’ve ever had. They have even jumped in to help handle errors with products sold by 3rd party sellers on their site. Recently, I was having trouble with one of the items in my baby registry. There was incorrect pricing and a long shipping delay. After speaking with their registry department about the trouble I was having, they agreed to adjust the price and provide a shipping workaround. Why? Because I asked.
Local Gymnastics Club
My stepdaughter asked to sign up for gymnastics this season, with the intention of trying out for cheerleading next year. Two weeks into the paid-for 8 week session, she made the decision that she did not want to do it anymore (TEENS!). I was hesitant to ask about this one because their policy was not to refund any classes within a session because they offer a trial. But, I politely asked if it was possible, especially since both of my youngest children also take tumbling classes there and any credit could be applied to their accounts. And here again, the answer was yes.
While I have had a lot of success with this financial habit, it does not always work. I just inquired about a pair of toddler shoes from See Kai Run that fell apart after 3 wears (which is very unusual, See Kai Run is one of my favorite brands). In this case, the representative said there was nothing they could do because I’d bought them well in advance and the one-year warranty had passed. Another time I emailed a toy company to ask if there were parts I could purchase for an item bought secondhand. Unfortunately, they no longer manufactured that particular toy.
But the point is, that I have established the simple habit of asking. It works more often than not, and frequently takes less than 5 minutes of my time to look up a website, grab a customer service email, and shoot off a quick note.
Now there are lots of reasons I can think of why people don’t do it. They don’t have time to deal with it. Negotiating is stressful. They don’t want to be a pain. They just feel nervous to ask. Let me tell you: I feel this way, too.
But here’s the kicker. The worst thing that can happen is that they’ll say ‘no.’ And that’s not the end of the world, now, is it?
Best case scenario is you’ve saved yourself some money on a product or service or gotten a solution for something that didn’t work for you.
Now, the next step is to take whatever money you saved and put it aside instead of absorbing it by spending the surplus. But that is a discussion for another day.
Do you do this? If not, what kinds of excuses keep you from asking?