How to save money... just by just asking

11 February 2009

http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/5721/0cur73hchf09d1mpdj4buvokv1.jpgSometimes, the easiest way to get something done is just to ask. I recently knocked off around £100 off a 21 day gym + personal trainer package, £50 off a hotel room in Seattle, free food coupons in Vegas and £100 off my rent back in the UK.  I'm sure you've done the same.

For those that hate asking because it's cheeky and shameless, just think about the money you will save in the long run.

Have I always asked? No. This changed a couple of years ago when a friend of mine started sharing some of his adventures from getting complimentary hotel stays to free cool stuff most of us can only dream off.  It really pushed my beliefs of what is possible.

As a result, I have managed to obtain the following:

  • I barely paid a single penny on my mobile phone bill for the past 2 years, with almost unlimited minutes and unlimited broadband.
  • £100 less for my rent
  • Free wireless internet on a secure connection (by asking the people who live above)
  • A free business coach who normally charges £100/ hr in exchange for helping her with web design
  • Free haircuts by a top London stylist (Headmasters), in exchange for trading notes on Tony Robbins (he's a personal development addict)

Those are just a couple of examples off the top of my head, and probably nothing too impressive.  But the point I want to make, is that simply by getting up the courage to ask (or a better way to look at it would be to 'offer value in return'), I am saving cash worth over £1k a month.

Of course, I don't always get what I want.

  • I paid a shameful full gringo price on a Canon Digital Camera here in Panama. But I needed it urgently.
  • I rarely manage to negotiate down hotel rooms
  • I no longer have my mobile phone deal (long story)

However, it never hurts to ask. Everyone wants to save money. The person behind the counter at a posh restaurant or shop probably relate to bargain hunters more than someone pretending to have more money than they have.

A few tips on increasing your success rates with negotiations:

1. Be positive. No one wants to deal with a whiner or a wanker. Keep a pleasant tone with no expectations. Let them know directly what you want. You may be surprised by the response.

2. Always be in a conversation, with no agenda: A friend of mine gets free upgrades to business class whenever he flies British Airways. All through networking, and knowing staff at the airlines. He did not specifically look for this. He's just a social guy with no agenda.

3. Persist: When I first asked for my a reduction in my rent, my landlord almost hung up on me.  The same also happened when I tried initially to get my gym membership negotiated. There is a point where the cost/benefit of pursuing something is not worth it, but I am not someone who easily gives in until I get what I want. And I believe that attitude really gets you a lot in life.

4. Show your options: Have an abundant mindset.  Most businesses (especially nowadays - have you seen the Retail Deathwatch List?) are dying for your consumption. If they aren't smart enough to realise that by giving you a small discount they win your business, then they are fools.

5. Be realistic: Don't start expecting to get stuff for free. Try to offer value in return. You're dealing with human beings (yes, I have feelings too).  When someone offers me value, I always aim to offer them more in return. Cash and money are just one way to do that. Start being creative!

6. Let go: Some things are just not negotiable. If you gave it a shot, you've probably learned something.  The goal isn't to get everything for free.  It's simply to put in an effort to cut corners off your expenses when possible.

There are just a few things I do personally.  If you have your own 'cash hacks', techniques and tactics to lower the cost of your expenses, please share them with us in the comments below.

TOPICS:   Banking

8 comments

  • Joff
    #4 Didn't work out for me when I enquired at Bannatynes (which prompted my email to you, which resulted in your earlier post on gym memberships).
  • Martin
    - Always be in a conversation, with no agenda: A friend of mine gets free upgrades to business class whenever he flies British Airways. What ticket does he buy? Is it premium economy (or whatever it is called), rather than the cheapest available?
  • The B.
    "Free wireless internet on a secure connection" There's no such thing as a secure internet connection, presumably you're connected by wireless over a pre-shared key connection locked down by Mac address? Anyone can spoof the Mac address if they have the knowhow and the pre-shared key info is passed over the ether unencrypted so likewise it can be nabbed.
  • whey h.
    discount for cash usually only works in independent stores where you're dealing directly with the owner or one of her/her employees. in large and chain stores discounting for cash is pointless. personally I think discounting for one form of payment over another is something that should've died back in the 80s. what difference does it make? in a large chain store the staff aren't paid a wage packet in cash and someone will always have to stay behind and cash up the tills and count and bank all the cash. whereas paying by card, nothing to count, moneys out of your bank into theirs. done. cash is more of a hassle to large stores so askin for example John Lewis for cash discount is a bit pointless.
  • -=Mike H.
    Looks like Vince VVong 'CAN' do wrong
  • speedski
    @whey hey You obviously don't know anything about merchant banking fees....
  • Ben
    @ speedski I have worked in business banking, and fully agree with 'whey hey'. For large chain stores, card payment is a lot more favourable than straight forward cash. Due to the huge volume of card transactions done, they are offered great rates for payment via card, at say, 2%. When going down to a banks business desk, cash payments are not only charged on a % basis (usually above card rates), but also for every individual deposit made. Cash payments only really work with small businesses and individually owned stores. This is for the same reason people such as plumbers/glaziers/electricians only accept cash. It's a huge tax dodge.
  • Roxy
    Impressive! This is great advice. I especially like #2 and #5 -- refreshing. How do you decide what to ask for? What motivated you to seek a rent reduction, for example? And why do you think hotels are so rigid? I ask, because of the past year I've tried countless times to get a hotel room upgrade or discount and failed. It's part of an experiment of sorts I'm running to see what what advantages and discounts I can get by doing just that -- asking. Since July, I've gotten mixed results. Lots of discounts, lots of interesting adventures, but it seems retailers and travel companies won't budge. Maybe I need to do #3, and then #6... If you have a moment to check out my project, The Daily Asker, I'd love to hear what you think! -Roxy (thedailyasker.blogspot.com)

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