FABULESSLY FRUGAL FRIDAY: Just Ask

A few years after my husband and I were married, we were walking through a furniture store when we found a bed we both fell in love with. It was an expensive bed, and one that was out of our price range. While I temporarily had visions of how it would look in our bedroom, I realistically knew the price tag would keep it on the showroom floor. My husband had another idea.

He found a sales associate and told her what he was willing to pay for the bed. I was mortified. To me that was like telling a cashier at a grocery store that you are only willing to pay $1 for a gallon of milk clearly marked $2. We were not in a thrift store. We were not at a garage sale. We were not at a used car lot. We were not in haggling territory. Or so I thought.

We bought that bed. We paid the price my husband offered the sales associate. It was almost half-off the marked price. The sales associate initially told my husband they did not negotiate their prices. They never had. They never would. He kindly asked her to ask her manager if they would take less. Her manager agreed.

Lesson learned: it doesn’t hurt to ask.

In the 10 years we have been married, I have grown comfortable negotiating what I once thought were nonnegotiables. We saved over $1,000 on a Natuzzi living room set after telling the sales associate what we were willing to pay, leaving our name and phone number and telling them to call us if they were able to sell us the set at our offer price. They called the next day. Those lovely leather couches still sit in our living room today.

We had $500 waived from a doctor bill by simply asking if they would take less. I explained we were financially able to pay the bill, it just seemed their charges were a bit high and wondered if they would be willing to lower them. They did. The receptionist said in the 5 years she had worked at the doctor’s office she had never had anyone ask if the doctor would be willing to lower his fees. That surprised me. So many of us are unwilling to pay full price at the grocery store, but never think twice paying full price for other things.

Simply asking could save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Sometimes people tell us no, and that’s fine too. I’ll continue to ask. It only takes one yes to save me money!

Do you haggle? Are you successful at it? What is your best negotiated deal?

*A quick note about haggling: be fair. Sure we often offer less than asking price, but we are realistic in the types of deals we negotiate. We are especially careful when it comes to professional services. Sure we love a good deal, but we also feel that a good hairdresser/babysitter/mechanic is deserving of a good wage.

Comments

  • HeatherF

    This is sooooo true my motto is it doesn’t hurt to ask as well. I also have gotten docs to cut the bills or write off something since we don’t have the best insurance or a high deductible. I find any kind of sales people can usually go down a bit. I’ve even said at retail stores you don’t happen to have a random coupon laying around kinda joking. Sometime No othertimes why yes we had a 15 % off in the paper etc they can magically give you 🙂

    One off the top of my head I was buying snowboard boots at water ski pro shop of all places. I swear I was not even trying to get the guy to go down (this was pre coupon days actually) and I just said thinking out loud that the boots were just a little more than I wanted to spend and he said well if I lowered them to x amount would you take them. Why yes…yes yes I would 🙂

  • lacey

    I guess there is a ART to do so… I dont think I am blessed with this talent:( Me and my hubby want a photo shoot but we are on a fixed budget. I think I will muster all my courage to ask the photographer if she can go down a liltte bit…

  • Nikki

    We saved some money on our Toyota Sienna van we bought. They had just got it on their lot and ordered some parts for it. 2 doorhandles were broken and one rim didn’t match. It was a good deal, based on the make/model/mileage/year so we offered them $500 less saying we would fix those things ourselves. We paid probably close to $130 for the parts and installed them ourselves so that saved us $370 plus tax. I think that was a good deal for us. My husband is very anti-negotiating but this was one time where he was ok with it.

  • mjssssss

    It only works if you ask, recently in the e/r for kidney stones, negotiated all fees except one the doctor who treated me, she only got what our insurance would pay and we paid the last of that bill..but I asked all the othes if they would take less, in the worst depression since 1929 most people with insurance don’t pay their full bills and those that do promptly get big discounts because most hospitals have to write off people who refuse to work or can never get health benefits at all!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • HeatherF

    I was going to mention that many dentist offices will give you a 5% discount if paying in full. We don’t have dental insurance so that helps.

  • Neva

    I had an acquaintance who was always trying to negotiate deals … many times she would say that she just couldn’t afford it when in actuality she could, she just didn’t WANT to pay what they were asking … Then she would take the item she got a great deal on and sell it for a profit online … She called it “making a buck.” I felt that some of her practices were unethical and dishonest and that she was just a wheeler-dealer … Eventually I severed the friendship because I felt that she was misrepresenting herself as someone in need to prey upon others. My point in sharing this story is to remind people to please, please, please be honest and have integrity in dealing with others. Just because you don’t like a doctor or dentist’s fees, doesn’t mean you necessarily have the right to pay less … Many of them have families they are trying to feed, not to mention the student loans they are trying to pay off.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Fabulessly Frugal
    Thank you so much for an incredible site that has been so helpful to me and our family. This recent post struck a chord with me. I am not throwing a pity party but simply seeking to foster some understanding by telling you this super brief story. I completely acknowledge that we have chosen what we have chosen and must deal with the in’s and out’s of the job. My husband just recently finished the 12 year journey through medical school. We have lived on loans and love most of that time. We emerged with nearly $250,000 in student loans and are now buying into a practice which takes even more of our monthly income. I understand the shock of opening medical bills – we’ve felt that way on many occasions. I do think it is so important to understand that these men and women have put an extremely huge amount of their time, money, physical capabilities, etc. to be where they are. That bill also includes a myriad of staff members, overhead fees, the costs of equipment, etc. Most clinics are more than willing and welcome those who are willing to pay and make arrangements for those payments that may be too high to pay all at once. Please consider thinking twice when you ask for a cut in your bill just because you think it is too high. We’re trying to make our ends meet, too. Thank you!!

    • Amber

      Oh hear you, and I totally agree. That is why if we are told no we don’t think twice about it. And also why we don’t haggle every doctor’s bill. We have a lot of friends who have lived on Ramen through medical school. We’ve watched them struggle. And I don’t have a problem paying what can be considered a high fee to see a qualified doctor. I completely understand the cost behind the charges, so I am usually fine with it.

      In the instance I cited above, for reasons I won’t get into my husband had been rushed to the ER. After we spent an entire day there & my husband was stabilized, we were referred to a specialist so my husband could get his jaw reset (something 3 ER docs attempted too many time to count without success). We were in and out of his office in 15 minutes. The bill we received was for almost $2,000 AFTER our insurance had paid their portion. For 15 minutes!! And we have great insurance. I thought that bill was absurd, so I took a chance and asked if they would lower it.

      I’m not advocating ripping off doctors/dentists. I certainly hope people did not get that impression!! But I do feel it is our responsibility to speak up if we encounter a situation like I did, instead of just blindly paying because we believe we have no choice.

  • Drea

    We asked my husbands dentist to lower his fee and he dumped us with a letter after we paid our bill off! We were kind and polite and didn’t push the issue. He said we weren’t on the same page! Sorry to say it, but some docs are just in it for the money!

  • Rebecca

    Thanks Anonymous! I have many stories of how my family has been taken for more money by plumber, painters, etc. because they know my husband is a doc. Most people are totally unaware of the costs involved in medicine- from school, to practice, to malpractice insurance, to fees, insurance low reimbursement, to government involvement (unfortunately- more to come on that). Many docs wouldn’t encourage their children to follow in their footsteps because of the business of medicine now. We are all worried about our futures and our children’s futuers right now- let’s not rag on any one profession. Drea- aren’t many people in “it” for the money? We are all try to do right by our families- that’s why we use this site! Greed and “bad” people are in every profession- teachers, bankers, stay at home moms, doctors, realtors, factory workers, lawyers, and car mechanics. I love the topic of ” just ask”- let’s not turn it into a bash session on docs or any other profession.

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