I know it’s expected that people will haggle prices at yard sales, auctions and car dealerships, but I didn’t know until last week that one can haggle prices at nearly any place of business. Here’s how I learned that price haggling doesn’t have to be limited to deals of a personal nature, but that you can haggle prices on just about anything in order to save money on many things.
Haggle Prices on Everything
So, last week we were chatting with friends who moved from the suburbs to the country about the same time we did. Our families have many things in common, so it’s fun to compare what we’ve learned and share with each other how to make the homesteading life in the country easier. Last week, we got to talking about propane usage. Our friends have a much, much bigger house than we do, and their propane costs run about $4200 a year, even though they keep the heat at a biting 58 degrees during winter and use their fireplace as well. Needless to say, Jay, the husband, has done his research on reducing heating costs.
“We locked in at an awesome rate this year”, I told him, excited that we will be paying $2 a gallon for propane this year instead of last year’s ridiculous prices that hovered near $5 a gallon. He looked at me, and didn’t say a word. Uh-oh, I thought. What’s that about? “What did you lock in at?” I asked. “$1.69 a gallon,” he answered. Curious, I leaned in to get his secret.
“Well,” he said,” it was pretty easy. The company sent out the sheet they always send out in summer, indicating what the current lock-in rate was. So I called them, and told them that I wasn’t happy with that price. I explained that I hadn’t started to shop around yet, but that I would if need be. I reminded them that we are high-volume customers and had been loyal over the last three winters. Then I told them I wanted a better rate.” “How about $1.69?” they countered. Done, and done. My friend had now locked in at $1.69 a gallon for the year, saving him a good 15% over our rate, and the equivalent of a few hundred dollars.
But it doesn’t end there. A few days beforehand, my mom was at a well-known retailer pricing out sweaters that were on sale. As she went to make her purchase, she randomly asked the cashier if there were any additional discounts available for the purchase. The cashier just happened to have had a 10% off coupon sitting at the register, and offered to let my mom use it for her purchase, to which, of course, mom happily obliged.
Challenge Every Expense
When I talked here about the importance of challenging every expense, I was focusing primarily on those consistent monthly expenses that we often pay too much for, such as car insurance and cable TV. But I learned this week that a person can haggle prices on just about anything if they’re willing to take the time and stand their ground. You can be sure that, next year, when it comes time to lock in our winter propane rate, I won’t be settling for the rate the company offers. Instead, I’ll be haggling for a better price.
When was your last price haggling success? How have you prepared for winter heating costs? If you don’t haggle, what holds you back from trying?
Photo courtesy of: Lian Chang