What This Blog is About

Greetings! You know how when you're reading a great article or see something fabulous in a magazine and just don't know what to do with it so you end up with a thousand torn-out pages? Well, that's what this blog is for. It's a place for me to share the best things I find in magazines! I am hoping to use this as sort of a log to keep all those wonderful articles, items I just have to have, and tips I've learned in one place. My goal is to share with the world, the awesome things I've learned and seen in my many magazines. I subscribe to many varieties and read them daily. I hope to post at least three times a week, eventually, daily. Please support my blog by becoming a follower and checking out the things you like! My dream is to write for a magazine so I figured this might be a good place to start. ;) Thank you all for joining me! Please leave your comments because I'd love to hear your thoughts!

XO ~ Amy Jo (aka AmyJRockstar)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How to Haggle for Everything (and then some)

Welcome New Followers, New Friends, and Old Friends especially, ;)

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog for my first post yesterday and for interacting on the comment section.  I really appreciate that.  I think people have so much to offer to each other and since I don't get out of the house much at all, due to my illness, this is really my way of connecting, learning, and hopefully enlightening.

Today's topic is inspired by an article I read in the January 2011 edition of Glamour magazine. (Yes, they do talk about other topics besides men and fashion) ;0)  I would like to expand upon the article How to Haggle for Everything by Carmen Wong.  She took a more financial gain type of view for this article so let's start with that.  Then we will continue with my view of why people should  haggle/barter for environmental reasons.  Anything in quotes is directly copied as it is written in the magazine.  Just to clear things up, if you do not see quotations, then that is me, expanding on this topic. I want to give credit where credit is due, but I also want to put in my two cents as well. LOL ;)  I will paraphrase by using brackets.

Tips from Ms. Wong:

  • Cut your cable and phone bills - "Check out billshrink.com and lowermybills.com, to see what other companies are charging.  Then call your provider and ask for the "customer retention" department." {I had no idea there was even such a thing until I read this article!}  "Ask them to lower your rate."  [You can actually ask them if they have any promotions going on and see if you can get in on those too.]  One big tip, don't turn into Bridezilla (for lack of a better term). Remember these... kill them with kindness, or honey catches more flies than vinegar???  I truly do believe those old cliches work well, as I, personally follow those wonderful words of wisdom, especially when there's something I really want. ;)  I am the type of person that tends to get her way. Just ask my DH!  My friends will say the same thing too.
  • Negotiate the interest rate on your credit card - This is one I have also done, personally.  I actually called my credit card company and told them about now, being on disability and no longer having the type of income I had before.  By the time I figured out I could actually ask for a lower rate, they had already cut my credit completely off (probably a good thing, but I was mad a the time) and I was just paying the bill, slightly above the minimum.  I spoke to an awesome customer service agent and he told me he could put me on a "hardship program".   I hate to say it, but most American's are in need of a "hardship program" at this point, with the way the economy was going.  So, what happened is, he ended up lowering my interest (a lot) and gave me a fixed amount to pay each month with no worries of a late charge (unless I was defunct for like six months or something).  Fine by me!  It's definitely helped out with some of my financial stress and if I forget to make my payment on time, it's ok.  I don't get charged that hideous fee anymore.  And again, since they were actually helpful, I don't take advantage.  I try to make my payments on time and if I do forget, it's usually no more than a day or two late. -- According to Ms. Wong, [one way to negotiate a lower balance is by looking up what some other companies are charging and then "suggest" you may be transferring your balance to a company with a lower rate.  This will usually get them to work towards a better rate with you.]  I have done this myself, in the past, and it has always worked well for me and hey, if it doesn't work, you can transfer your balance to a different bank!  [Do not take an "interest rebate" option.  Basically they are just trying to get you to spend more.]
  • Furniture and appliances - "The best place to start haggling is at the store.  Floor models get bumped around, sat on, and fiddled with, and are often marked down as much as 20%!  Top that discount with the models that are on sale already and you could get a costly item for about 1/2 of its original price.  The best months to shop are July, early August, and January, when retailers need to make room for new merchandise.  Just make sure your big [score] comes with a warranty!" -- I don't know why I never think to ask about the floor models, but I have scored some really good deals that way on accident.  It's just something I never think of, but now I certainly will keep my eyes open for an expensive item I want, but can't afford at full price.  In fact, I might just give this a try sooner than later.  I have had my eye on a Keurig coffee machine for a couple of years now and haven't bought one cause I'd rather spend that kind of money on my scrapbooking supplies or clothes. LOL -  I think I might just pop on in to my local Kohls store or somewhere like that, and see if I can get myself a bargain on a Keurig!  Fantastic idea, isn't it? (I'll keep you posted.)  My advice for getting great deals on furniture and appliances are:
  1. Thrift Stores - Ah, the sad, forgotten thrift stores.  You know we're in a financial rut when the thrift stores are closing down because of lack of business!  Don't forget about the Thrift/Consignment shoppes.  These are great resources for finding what you are looking for.  I go there often for crafting supplies.  If you are into refurbishing, it's a great place to get inexpensive furniture.  You just need to have an open mind when going there and realize that things can be changed.  Furniture can be sanded, painted, reupholstered, etc.  And you're likely helping out a good cause and keeping the landfills free of even more perfectly usable items.
  2. Garage Sales. - Same concept as above.
  3. Friends - I cannot believe the things my friends/family throw away because they no longer want it.  We've gotten a huge TV from my BIL, amazing home decor from friends, and all sorts of perfectly usable (some brand new or like new) stuff!  In fact, I ask all my friends, if you have stuff you no longer want, give it to me and if I don't use it (if they don't mind) I'll sell it or donate it.  My gosh people!  There are so many less fortunate people out there in need of these items.  Please just take a moment to think about the carbon footprint you are leaving behind.  Donate.  Don't throw it away if it's usable.  Or recycle!  It's not that much extra work.  Really.  Another thing I've really taking a liking to lately is re-purposing.  Once you start seeing items in a different way, realizing they could be turned into something else, it almost becomes like a game or even an addiction - trying to figure out what random, seemingly useless, objects can be turned into, to be of use.  Give it a try.  Take a look around your home.  You know those little plastic containers you get with say take out (the ones that hold sauces or dips or peppers), I wash them out, keep the little lids and use them for all of my tiny findings for my crafts.  They are perfect for that.  They can be painted, covered with paper, labeled, whatever you want to do to make it work for you.  In fact, this will be a topic coming up.. perhaps tomorrow.  Please come back for further re-purposing tips. :0)
  • An airline upgrade - Again, I have tried and tested this method and found it to be true!  I once got a round trip flight from Colorado to Maine completely free.  Not to mention, a hotel room for free and a rental car upgrade.  Listen up... "If a flight is oversold, as they often are during the holidays, you can offer to take a later one in exchange for a plush seat and extra leg room.  Smile at the gate attendant - the most underused bargaining trick!" My input on this topic:  Actually, I got a voucher for a free flight when I did this, forget the nicer seat!  Ask for a free round-trip ticket!  It's happened before to me, my DH, and my brother (several times).  If you can wait for a later flight, it is well worth it.  Believe me!  I was so excited to have a free flight to anywhere in the US (to be used within a year or so).  Flights are so expensive these days.  Once, they filled the plane and had to bump me, so not only did I get a free flight, but also an overnight stay in a nice hotel, with free taxi service and two free meal vouchers!  The tip about the gate attendant is true too.  A plane I was on was accidentally overbooked and they had  bumped me (by random drawing), but I was super nice to the gate attendant and he nodded at me, and winked, took my ticket and pushed me through anyways.  He ended up bumping someone else. ;)  Kill 'em with kindness... worked again! *great big smile*
  • Your doctor's bill - If you mention your financial situation to your doctor (don't be embarrassed, it's really worth doing) lots of times he will base the fee on a pay scale, based on your income.  You can also get discounts by paying in cash.  I think my doc offers like a 20% price break.  Same thing goes for therapists.  I have done this as well and got a therapist with a normal rate of $60 an hour to drop it to $20 an hour for me.  

The biggest thing you have to overcome is your own pride.  It shouldn't be embarrassing to ask for a little help or try to get a better deal.  You never know, it might just work!  I have wonderful luck and I attribute it to a positive attitude, being nice to someone who is not nice to you (you never know what kind of day they're having), and not being afraid to speak up.  We spend a lot of money on doctors.  They make a lot of money so why can't we ask them for a little help when we need it?  Same with the credit card companies and airlines.  They make a fortune!  Even giving a little break to some people here and there will not touch the amount of money they actually clear.  We're the little people, and we need to realize we deserve to not go broke over something that is out of our control.  Ask, ask, ask!  The worst they can do is say no.

Thanks for joining in today.  I hope you liked the topic and I really hope you got something out of it.  Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

Work smarter, not harder.

~ Amy Jo


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