You don’t have to be an expert haggler to save a few bucks here and there. Even the quietest, most timid mice can avoid paying full price by simply knowing when to bargain and when to move on.
When it comes to some purchases, such as houses, we all expect a little back and forth. But savvy shoppers will tell you even popular items are available at severely discounted rates. You just have to ask. Here are 15 purchases where you should avoid paying full price.
1. Car rentals
Warehouse stores, such as Costco and Sam’s Club, have travel deals that include rental cars. By booking through them, you’ll receive additional discounts you wouldn’t have access to elsewhere. Sometimes your company has a program that offers corporate discounts when traveling for work, so contact your HR department to see what’s available. Then, save even more by skipping pointless add-ons, such as insurance coverage, GPS options, and fuel charges.
Next: Man’s best friend doesn’t have to cost so much.
Most of us aren’t worried about the huge expense a puppy becomes when we’re holding it in our arms. In reality, though, the cost to care, feed, and simply keep a pet alive takes a lot of money. So consider how to keep the cost down from the start. First, you can always negotiate a purchase price with a breeder. Second, adopting a dog is much cheaper than buying one from a breeder or pet store. Rescuing a pup from the shelter can run less than $100, whereas purebred dogs can be anywhere from $500 to $1,000.
Next: Extended warranties, because just selling you the product isn’t enough.
3. Extended warranties
Warranties for appliances, cars, TVs, or phones are mostly just tricky schemes companies use to tack on extra profits. What’s worse is much of the fine print will prevent you from ever being able to cash in on that warranty anyway. Even the best plans won’t save you money in the long run. So you’re probably better off forgoing the extra fees and saving for additional repairs yourself.
Next: How to get a deal on food
If you’re not a family that regularly gathers at your dinner table for a meal, then you’re probably eating out at restaurants and spending wads of needless cash. You can cut back on your food tab by searching for local happy hours, drink specials, half-off appetizers, or certificates redeemable at your favorite hangouts. Discount vendors, such as RetailMeNot.com, Restaurant.com, and Groupon, will be your most trusted confidant in this scenario. Best of all, you still get to go out and enjoy yourself.
Continuing education is expensive, yet we allocate tens of thousands of dollars toward a degree. Why? Because it’s worth it. However, there are many ways you can lower your tuition bill by simply scouring the internet for deals. Yes, there are the typical routes, such as financial aid and scholarships. But there also are senior citizen discounts (some schools admit seniors for free) and monetary grants available for all types of people. Are you a woman? Disabled? Veteran? There’s likely a grant ready for you.
Next: Just asking for a lower price could save you 30% on this item.
Looking for an extra special engagement ring this summer? Don’t tell your sweetie, but you can actually negotiate for a lower price at some high-end jewelry stores. Stores like to set a precedent that they absolutely do not bargain on price, but that’s not always true. Forbes says you can potentially save 30% on a full-price piece just by politely making a lower offer and seeing whether it sticks. But be prepared either to walk away from the deal if the answer is no or work with the store to negotiate a counteroffer.
7. Concert tickets
Movie prices, concert tickets, and sporting events are only getting steeper. Although many people might believe their only option is to cut back on the fun, try thinking about how not to pay full price instead. Concert tickets are often sold for less money outside the box office. Craigslist is perfect for getting last-minute tickets at a hefty discount. And TickPick is awesome when searching for tickets because it doesn’t charge service fees. Matinee theater tickets are way cheaper, and you can see additional discounts with student IDs, military IDs, and senior citizen rates.
8. Smart TVs
Turn any dumb TV into a smart TV by connecting your laptop to your TV with an HDMI chord. Voila! You have internet access without that hefty price tag. Also, as smart TVs grow in popularity, their prices are getting cheaper, so it could benefit you to delay your purchase for as long as you can wait. Even searching for a refurbished or open-box TV can save you tons when you’re on the prowl. Just double check that they’ve been reviewed and certified by a professional before purchasing.
With what’s available to watch via Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, and Roku, there’s really no reason to spend so much for cable TV packages. But if you can’t bear the thought of being without 100-plus channels, try haggling for a lower price with the cable company. If you threaten to cancel entirely or mention a competitor’s lower price, you’ll be surprised what kind of deals your company will throw at you when it thinks you’re a goner.
Next: Bank fees
10. ATM fees
ATM and other bank fees can be lessened. In fact, ATM fees can be avoided altogether. If you plan to withdraw money ahead of time, you can dodge fees other banks charge for out-of-network transactions. Or just get cash back at the grocery store checkout counter.
Other bank fees can be negotiated, as well. Money Rates financial editor Richard Barrington tells USA Today branch managers have the power to waive fees, especially for customers in good standing. “You push back a little bit and threaten to pull your money, and sometimes you’ll get results,” Barrington says. If all else fails, check out a credit union.
11. Gym memberships
Did you know you can negotiate a cheaper price on gym memberships? Try haggling for a good price during the summer months when everyone has abandoned their New Year’s resolutions, and the gym is hurting for business. Even better, the crowds are lighter because many people suspend memberships to take advantage of the nicer weather. If you’re still slightly uncomfortable working out in public, this time of year is also perfect for scoring highly discounted home gym equipment.
Next: Name brands
12. Name brands
Maybe you’re like Warren Buffett, and you can afford overpriced aspirin and brand-name cereal. But for the rest of us penny pinchers, choosing a name-brand item over the generic would be foolish. Generic prescriptions are easy to find, and store-brand grocery items taste just as delicious as the name brand. But if you just have to have the Apple TV, consider looking into refurbished electronics.
Isn’t retro back in style? Let’s show thrift stores some love. Consignment stores are often loaded with cheap, gently used clothing from your favorite stores — some with the price tags still on. Plus, shop any stores during the off-season when the clearance section is jammed with items stores just want gone. And as much as we hate subscriber lists that spam our email accounts, they can be beneficial when your favorite retailer is having a sale.
Why pay full price for books when you can by used copies on Amazon? Even Barnes & Noble has a fairly large section of massively discounted books for sale. Thrift stores sell used books for a buck, and the library shelves are yours to browse completely free.
Whether it be physical therapy or mental health counseling, many insurance providers can supplement portions of your therapy session fees if the clinic you choose is part of the insurance plan. The clinic also might accept Medicare and Medicaid.
But those who pay out of pocket can contact universities or treatment hospitals that often offer cheaper services than independent centers. Some therapists even offer treatments on a sliding scale, meaning your sessions fees are determined based on income.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.