One aspect of saving that often gets neglected in our financial planning is the practice of asking for discounts. This powerful habit usually takes 10 seconds or less when shopping, and can save you hundreds throughout the year.
I get it, it’s scary! Asking for a discount can be intimidating because you’re putting yourself out there to face possible rejection. But once you do it a few times, I promise you that fear will fade.
In this post we’re going to cover:
- Why asking for discounts is totally OK (and why you should be practicing it regularly!)
- Tips for what you should do before, during, and after asking for discounts
- Examples of real life situations to try and how to ask for discounts in everyday life
Remember, most people spend their time thinking about their own lives. If they are unable to offer you a discount, they’re quite likely to just move on with their day. The worst thing that could happen is someone tells you no, and you both move on with your lives! No harm, no foul.
Why You Need To Be Asking For Discounts:
Asking for a discount should be an empowering part of your life, because it is one tangible way that you can advocate for yourself financially. We’re talking about your money, and if you don’t ask for a deal, no one will do it for you. Neglect to ask and the answer to the question you opted not to ask will always be no.
Asking for a discount is also a great, low stakes way to practice negotiation. It will prepare you for navigating bigger money talks, like asking for a raise or for a discount on your rent. Getting a few wins under your belt can help build up confidence before tackling greater challenges in the future!
Oftentimes retailers expect some buyers to negotiate prices. They’ll even sometimes bump up their sticker prices a little bit to leave room for future discounts seekers. Not only do they want you to ask for a discount, they feel good when they can grant your wish and still make a great profit. It’s truly a win/win.
All in all, asking for a discount costs you nothing, takes very little time, and can help you keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket.
Tips for Asking For A Discount:
Every buying and selling situation is different. Whether you’re trying to get a discount in person, over the phone or via email, these tips might help you prepare…
Tackling the fear of rejection
Something about the prospect of hearing the word “no” from a stranger takes me right back to feeling like my middle school self: awkward, and a little bit sweaty. And that’s because when you decide to ask for a discount, you are putting yourself out there.
You might be afraid that by asking for a discount you’ll offend someone, or that the interaction will be uncomfortable. But more often than not it’s the opposite! Being vulnerable and putting yourself out there actually gives the other person conversational power, and usually triggers some type of compassionate feeling.
Do your best to remember that the person you are talking to likely just works for the company. Even if they can’t help you in your discount quest, they won’t be offended, and they probably wish that they could help you snag those savings! If they say no, they’re only declining the request. They are not rejecting you as a person.
Ask At The Right Time
Timing is everything. If you walk into a store on a Sunday during the holiday rush and see a cashier ringing a hoard of people up while simultaneously answering three phone calls and processing a return, read the room, it’s probably not the best time to ask for a discount.
Not only is asking during a time when the store is swamped a tad inconsiderate, it’s also more likely to result in your request being denied. Instead, opt for a time when the store isn’t terribly busy to ensure the cashiers and managers have enough time to hear you out.
Lead With A Compliment
Worried about offending people? Why not try leading with a compliment!
This both demonstrates that you believe their product or service is valuable, and starts the conversation off on a positive note. It’s also a good opportunity to mention if you are a long time or returning customer. A little kindness (and some loyalty) goes a long way.
“Hey Gongoozler. Walmart has these clown shoes for $5 less. I’m disgusted by these rising prices and demand you price match.”
“Hi there! I’ve been shopping here for a long time and I really love your Italian hand crafted clown shoes. I’ve actually bought two pairs before and they’re my absolute favorite. I prefer to shop here and support your business, but I noticed that Walmart has these shoes for $5 less. Is it possible to get a price match on these?”
Do Your Research and Come Prepared
One of the most important aspects of snagging that discount is to go into the situation prepared!
Make sure you can recite 1-2 reasons why you should get a discount. If you’re looking to save on a product or service, you should know what other providers are charging or offering better.
Sometimes it helps if you have a specific percentage or dollar amount in mind. For example, if you’re buying an item on Craigslist for $200…
“It looks great and I’d like to buy this. But can I have a discount?”
“This is exactly what I want, but it’s more expensive than the others I’ve seen. Would you be willing to take $150 in cash right now?”
Being specific with your request and reasoning is best when asking for discounts. If you are too general, the other party may just say “no,” because they’re confused about what you actually want. It’s important to mention that cash is often the most effective form of payment when you’re looking to get a deal too.
Related: Check out these deal websites where you can do price comparisons and sometimes snag a deep enough discount online.
Treat Them Like A Human
Again, it’s massively important to treat everyone with decency and kindness, especially when you’re asking for a favor. Nobody wants to help a jerk!
If you can make a meaningful connection with the person you’re asking, they’ll be much more likely to do their best to assist you. Kind people want to help kind people. There’s a way to be firm and direct without being abrasive or rude. People will respond best to you when you make it obvious that you are not trying to rip them off.
Be Willing To Walk
So they said no. What now?
If you told them that you wouldn’t be willing to pay full price for an item or service, you need to be willing to walk away when you are told that getting that discount won’t be possible. Sometimes, they’ll call your bluff! But part of the art of asking for a discount is knowing how to concede gracefully if you don’t get what you want.
If you get the deal, be gracious. If you don’t, be sure not to pout! You can opt to pay full price if you’re still keen on making that purchase, or continue to shop around for a better price elsewhere.
Know Who To Ask
If you ask the wrong person you might get an incomplete answer. In many retail locations, for instance, you might need to find a manager in order to get a real answer as to whether or not a discount is possible on your purchase.
And this might surprise you, but Twitter is actually a great place to ask different companies and brands for a discount too. For instance, AT&T has a handle called @ATTHelp. It’s so much easier to DM a Twitter account to ask about getting a better rate than it is to waste your afternoon on the phone. Twitter customer service is truly is one of the best kept secrets on the discount front.
Ways To Negotiate Discounts In Real Life:
So hopefully we’ve convinced you that asking for a discount is a totally worthwhile and empowering endeavor (that will also save you money), but you may be wondering how to start incorporating these tips into your life.
Where should you test out these newfound skills? What situations offer the best ability to actually score a discount? Here are some of our favorite places and ways to try keeping more of your hard earned cash!
1. Ask your Credit Card Company to Waive A Late Fee
You probably think that if you miss a credit card payment you get sent to the How To Money Dungeons.™ While we do hope that you will always pay your credit cards in full and on time, we also know that every once in a while life gets in the way, and people who are usually on top of their finances miss a payment.
However, if you do miss a payment, don’t just suck it up and pay the late fee! Call up and ask your credit card issuer to waive that pesky thing this one time. Make your case by telling them that you always pay your bills on time and be sure to mention how long you’ve been a customer. You might be surprised to find that they are often willing to completely waive this fee.
In fact, according to CNBC, about 8 out of 10 people who asked their credit card companies for lower rates, to drop an annual fee, or to waive a late fee were successful. And if you know how to go about asking for a discount, like we’ve discussed, the odds are even more in your favor!
Related: Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards for Beginners
2. Look Online for Discount Codes
Probably the easiest thing you can do to snag a discount is to do a google search for codes and coupons before buying something online! This takes zero human interaction, a small amount of time, and can often yield savings of between 10-20%. Low risk, high reward!
You could also try installing a browser extension, like Honey, which searches the web for discount codes and tests them all as you check out online. Personally, I’ve gotten 20% off coupons on multiple occasions. I wouldn’t have known about those discounts if I wasn’t using Honey. If you have a card with CapitalOne, they have a similar tool which can also help to sift through discount codes online!
My secret hack– Looking to make a bigger purchase? Look up reviews of the product on YouTube! Some influencers are paid to make reviews and are given discount codes to share with their audience. Search the video descriptions for their affiliate links and you might find that you’re able knock 10-20% off the price.
Another secret hack- If you find an expired discount code, start an online chat session or email the retailer and tell them your code has expired and if they have any *current* ones instead. Retailers hate turning away willing buyers so chances are they’ll offer you some sort of discount just for asking!
3. Ask Your Cable/Internet Providers for A Promotion
We’ve all been there. You signed up with your internet provider and snagged a sweet promotion for 6-12 months, but now that offer has expired and you’re paying triple the original price!
Unfortunately, being a loyal customer with these companies is one of the rare cases when you are not rewarded. Your loyalty actually gets punished. This is why it’s crucial to call them and ask for a discount – you could easily save hundreds of dollars a year.
Make it clear that you like their company, but you are no longer happy with what you’re being charged. Ask if they are running any promotions that they can offer you! Often they’ll be able to get you another year at the advertised introductory rate.
If it turns out that you’re talking to a brick wall by calling the generic 1-800 number, ask for the customer retention department. Those employees almost always have more wiggle room to offer you a better rate.
Related: Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans
4. Ask For A Price Match
This is another great way to build some confidence by asking for a price match. If you’ve found an item cheaper somewhere else, you already have a great reason as to why they should offer you a discount.
Be sure to have the price pulled up on your phone to show the cashier or manager at check out. “Trust me” is not an acceptable source!
5. Negotiate Medical Bills
If you get a medical bill that seems higher than it should be, make sure to ask them for an itemized bill and check for errors. They are more common than you’d think!
If you are paying out of pocket, you may also be able to get a discount for self paying. Many hospitals have payment assistance programs you may be able to take advantage of. The key term you’ll want to know is ‘patient advocate.’ Most hospitals have one and they can help you navigate the cruel world of medical bills to find an acceptable resolution.
And you might qualify for a massive discount on that bill based purely on your income. Be sure to check the hospital’s website to see how they structure bill reduction/forgiveness. You might not even have to become a shrewd negotiator. The hospital’s own policy might do the heavy lifting for you!
If you don’t qualify for help with that bill based on your income but you still feel like your healthcare bill is higher than it should be, you can use fairhealthconsumer.org to look at the average cost of your procedure or visit in your area. Remember, going into these discussions prepared will almost always yield a better outcome.
For more on how to fight back and win against exorbitant healthcare costs check out this podcast episode with Marshall Allen.
6. Ask For Free Shipping
Sometimes it’s easier to get free services than a discount code. Try emailing your favorite company and see if they are able to provide you with a free shipping voucher. This can easily save you some cash, especially if it’s a bigger item!
7. Amazon Prime Free Month Hack
Did you know that if your Amazon Prime package is delivered late, you can chat with a representative and ask for a free month? 🤯
Don’t abuse this trick or you may find yourself slipping into cheapskate territory, but be sure to take advantage of it every once in a while if your package gets delayed.
8. Ask For a Floor Model
Shopping for the perfect couch for your living room? Why not try and get the “a few hundred people have touched this” discount!
Asking if you can take the floor model off a furniture store’s hands can sometimes result in getting a cheaper price for an item you love.
9. Ask The Cashier For A Coupon
Ever been checking out at your favorite clothing store, chatting it up with the cashier and they whip out a coupon and scan it for you without saying a word? Sometimes angels really do walk among us.
If you’ve been having a friendly conversation with the cashier, it can’t hurt to ask if they have any coupons. (Or ask if there are any future sales coming up!) Every now and then, they might have a discount coupon and be more than willing to help you out. When I worked retail in high school, we were encouraged to help out friendly customers in this way.
10. Ask For An Upgrade Or Comp At a Hotel
Few things are worse than paying for something you’re unhappy with. If you show up at a hotel and your room doesn’t live up to your expectations, let them know and ask for an upgrade or discounted rate. Heck, you don’t even have to hate your room to ask for an upgrade! I typically book the cheap room but I’m always willing to ask if they have any nicer rooms that are open and available. And sometimes I get the upgrade pro bono, which is always fun and allows me to relax in style while still saving money on travel.
The service industry thrives on word of mouth and positive reviews, so they are likely to do what they can to improve your experience. They want any and all constructive feedback possible, to make experiences nicer for future guests. Don’t be afraid to ask for an upgrade – and make sure to leave a nice review after the fact!
11. Ask For Discounts On Products That Will Expire Soon
A great way to save some money on groceries is to try and purchase food closer to the expiration date! Some stores have a shelf with perfectly good produce and baked goods that are nearing their end. You can snag these for fractions of the original price! Just make sure to have a plan to cook them soon after purchasing!
Asking For A Discount Dos And Don’ts
To sum it all up, keep these dos and don’ts in mind for maximum success when asking for a discount.
|INSTEAD OF…||TRY THIS…|
|Asking for a “good guy” discount||Be nice without saying it. Small talk, pleasantries, and simply asking someone about their day will get you far.|
|Asking blindly at first chance||Come prepared with relevant information about competitor pricing. Be specific about the discount you want.|
|Being cocky and trying to act clever||Be genuine, be yourself, and remember people respond well to vulnerability|
|Letting them call your bluff||It’s OK to walk away should they say no. Or, kindly ask them if there are any “future discounts” and when might be a better time to buy.|
|Throwing an adult temper tantrum at the T.J. Maxx if they don’t give you the discount.||Be KIND. Remember that at the end of the day, they are just a person who is trying to do their job.|
Is Asking for a Discount Even Worth The Trouble?
In short- absolutely yes!
Asking for a discount is a great way to build confidence negotiating, advocate for yourself as a consumer, and keep more of your hard earned cash in your pocket!
We all have to spend money in our day to day life, which means that pursuing deals on goods and services you need is a great way to bolster your savings! Using the Rule of 173, saving an extra $50 a month could amount to an extra $8,650 in savings over 10 years. This could be put towards your Roth IRA, or to create a sinking fund for holiday gifts.
Whatever you decide to do with your extra savings, make asking for a discount a regular part of your life. YOU deserve it.
**Feature pic by Mediamodifier on Unsplash
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