Food Storage & Other Adventures in Motherhood

Negotiating Savings

by heather

Monday was not the best of days for me. I had (still have) a kidney infection and was having contractions so hard and frequently I could barely walk. My husband was out of town on business and Thing 1 and Thing 2 were not on their best behavior. And my house was in a fairly pathetic state. Despite this I had a few  money-saving victories that I think illustrate the principle of “not just taking what you are given”and being assertive.

Victory #1– So I called my doctor to let him know that the antibiotic that I was on was not effective, at all. A few hours later his office called saying that they had called in a new prescription. When I went to pick it up my co-pay was $35 and change, for a generic mind you. I said “Wow, that is significantly more than the last prescription that I had. (It was only $4.) Does it make a difference if I use a different insurance company?”  “Well, let’s see what we can do.”
 Now I have been told before that for prescriptions, even if you have double coverage, they will only use one insurance company, and insurance company co-pays are pretty much all the same. But I thought I would check anyway. A few minutes later the pharmacy tech said “Ok, that will be $5.” Wahoo! It doesn’t hurt to ask. One question saved me more than $30.

Victory #2– My husband likes to build things and fix things. It comes in handy. Awhile ago he decided to invest in a few hundred dollars worth of tools. The store he bought them from had a promotion that if you put them on the store credit card (which he already had) and made minimum payments, you paid no interest for a year. So I set up automatic payments and forgot about it. (Oops!) A couple weeks after the complete balance was due I remembered my mistake. I promptly paid off the remainder of the principle, but discovered that my mistake had cost me more than $84. Ouch. So Monday while I was laying on the couch, and feeling unable to do other productive things I gave them a call. I apologized for forgetting to pay the balance in full on time and asked if there was anyway that I could get the interest reduced. I was put on hold for about ten minutes. When the man I spoke to returned he said that this one time they could waive all of the interest charges. Better than I had hoped for. And I didn’t have to work that hard for it. I was ready to threaten to cancel the account, but that wasn’t even necessary. One phone call saved me $84.

Victory #3– Last week my husband was in an accident. On the way home an elderly gentleman ran a stop sign and my husband was unable to stop soon enough to avoid hitting him and t-boned his car. Fortunately no one was hurt, for which I am very grateful. Our car was however totaled. Besides being very inconvenient, this is expensive no matter how you slice it. Our car is not worth what it would cost to replace and we recently we just put down a significant amount of money on new tires and other maintenance related things. Mrggg. If I had a crystal ball I wouldn’t have put that money down. The adjuster from the other insurance company called and left a message while I was on the other phone. Before calling them back I called my insurance company wondering if they could give me a ballpark figure for what my car was worth. The quote he gave me was about $1600 more than my limited internet research had yielded. Now I don’t know how much they are going to offer, but it’s nice to have some information to leverage with. I figured my insurance company would be fairly straightforward with me. It doesn’t cost them anything one way or the other. I called the other insurance company back and left a message, but they haven’t called me back. Whatever, I keep the rental car until they settle things, and I know that the rental car is worth a lot more than my crunched car is. Potential savings from five minutes of my time: $1600.  Ha, ha, ha! Couch time can be productive. I saved more money than if I had spent the day working. :)

Here are some tips for negotiating savings.

  1. Ask nicely.
  2. Remember that businesses want to keep your loyalty and will often work with you to do so.
  3. Ask questions/ do research to make sure that you are well-informed.
  4. Credit card companies are more likely to waive interest and fees if you have a history of making your payments on time.
  5. Your first answer isn’t always the final answer.
  6. You have little to lose in seeing if you can get a better deal.

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