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52 Different Ways to Save at Least $100 Per Year: Ask for a Discount {Week 14}

Every Monday in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

A very simple way to cut your bill is to get comfortable and experienced with asking for a discount. My philosophy is that you never want to short-change someone, but it never hurts to politely ask. The worst they can say is “no”. 🙂

Here are three ways you can often get a discount just for asking:

1. Ask for a Discount If You Buy In Bulk

If you buy a lot of a particular item, you can often get a discount if you buy in bulk. If you’re going to be using a lot of something over the next four months and you can freeze or store it for an extended time period, see what kind of discount you can get if you buy enough to last you for three to six months.

For instance, if you go through a lot of organic butter, ask the health food store you typically purchase them from if they could give you a discount if you purchased a case of butter. If they say “yes”, buy the case and store it in the freezer to use as needed.

My dad did this when we were building our house when I was growing up. He went to the local lumber stores and told them he was going to be buying a lot of supplies for building our house and what kind of discount could they give him if would buy all of the items from their store. If I’m remembering correctly, one store almost immediately offered him 15% off everything he purchased from them over the next six months. That simple step of asking saved us thousands of dollars!

2. Ask for a Discount on Almost-Expired Groceries

Many stores are happy to give you a discount on almost-expiring groceries. All you have to do is ask.

One of my friends discovered that her local grocery store will give her $1-2 off each gallon of milk if it’s within 3-5 days of its expiration date. So when she shops, she looks at all the expiration dates, finds some milk that’s going to expire within 3-5 days, and asks them to mark it down. (By the way, you can freeze almost-expired milk to use in baking.)

One time, I found some bananas that were past their prime at Aldi. I went and asked if they’d give me a discount on them. They did better than that; they said I could have them for free!

3. Ask for a Discount on Memberships and Monthly Bills

If you have a membership to a local gym or other club and it’s something that you are regularly using (if you’re not regularly using it, cancel it today, okay? There’s no use in paying for something you’re not using!), ask them if they have an discount opportunities. If you volunteer once a month or help with a certain project, you might be able to get a sizable discount.

When it comes to your monthly bills, always call and try to re-negotiate fixed rate bills at least once per year. Things like internet and phone packages are often negotiable — and we’ve saved hundreds of dollars over the years by asking annually if they have a better rate they can give us.

So take the time to make that simple phone call. Schedule it on your calendar or just go do it right now. It could result in savings of $100+ per year — just for taking the time to ask!

Have you asked for a discount on something before? If so, tell us about your experience(s).

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  • Wanda says:

    Don’t forget asking for a discount on cable/telephone/internet etc if you pay for those.

    I got a $5/mth discount ($7 effective June) by calling and asking.

  • Jessica says:

    Yesterday, my Keurig Mini B31 brewer stopped working. I went to their website and followed the troubleshooting steps and it still didn’t work. I called their customer service, expecting that they would give me the old ‘too bad, so sad’ because my machine was 1 month past warranty (it sat unused for 6 months while I was pregnant and having morning sickness, so it was only used for about 7 months of time, only by me, to brew two cups per day).

    They are sending me a new brewer at no charge! I do have to send them the k-cup holder from the defective one as proof of ownership. So if you have something go wrong with an appliance and it’s out of warranty, it never hurts to call customer service to see what they will do for you.

    • Crystal says:

      That’s a cool story! Thanks for sharing!

    • Sharon says:

      Keurig are wonderful about that! My brewer had developed a leak, which eventually got to the point where it was leaking too much to use. I took it apart as much as I could, figuring I could fix it (former engineer here–I’ve fixed quite a few things over the years :-)), but came to a point where I needed schematics to dismantle it further. I couldn’t find plans online, so I called Keurig customer service to ask if I could get a diagram or something; the CS rep. made the same offer to me (and mine was more than a year past the warrenty expiring!). I was astounded (and very glad I hadn’t gone out & bought a replacement, lol).

  • Michelle says:

    A friend of mine, as part of her bachelorette party, had a gathering at a winery. She ordered somewhere around 9 bottles of wine and I thought that deserved a discount, so I asked and they gave us 15%. We would not have gotten a discount otherwise if I hadn’t asked.

    • Cheryl says:

      We would give larger than our usual discounts for wine bought bought at our winery to be served at a wedding.

  • joanna says:

    woohoo! i just called our phone/internet provider, & they’re giving us a “promotional” discount for the next 12 mos.; $10/mo. for 12 mos.=$120! thanks for sharing this tip!

  • Carrie says:

    Don’t forget to ask about insurance discounts. Many times, you can save hundreds by asking for a different insurance carrier.

  • Chris says:

    If you carry a military ID, whether active duty, dependant, or retired, always ask if they have a military discount. Most places don’t advertise this but do offer it if asked, from restaurants (even fast food) and stores up to hotels and other travel deals like cruise lines.

    • Lana says:

      Same with college ID’s if you live in a college town. Also my husband gets 10% off most of the restaurants near where he works by showing his badge.

      • Crystal says:

        Great tip! One of the few reasons we were sad the day my husband finished law school and no longer was a student was that we had to say so long to student discounts!

  • Michelle says:

    Both the mouth pieces on our 2 Camelbak water bottles broke last year at the same time. Not wanting to replace the bottles completely I set out to look for a replacement piece. After looking a few places with no luck I spoke with the camping manager at a sporting goods store and he told me to call Camelbak and they would be “good to me”. And to my surprise they were! They sent two brand new tops and straws for my bottles Free!! Very impressed with their Service!

  • Holly says:

    We were at Home Depot the other day and I looked up the product I was buying on the company website. It was $1 cheaper but a different brand. I asked the cashier about it and he met the price for me! It never hurts to ask!

  • Cheryl says:

    Ask for a discount on services if you pay at the time of the appointment (doctor, lab, dentist, etc.).

    Ask if they offer senior discounts and what age they start the discount.

    Ask for a discount for paying cash instead of credit card/check.

    For lodging, ask if they give a discount for AARP, AAA, etc.

  • Yes! Today at CVS I scanned my rewards card and a $2/$10 deodorant coupon came out. I was buying $8 of deodorant (that were on sale for $4, and I had $2 in coupons) and I asked the cashier if I could use the store coupon as well, and he said although he could not give me the $2 off, he could give me $1. So it never hurts to ask! I have some more stories here:

  • Diane says:

    Also ask for a discount on scratch and dent appliances at the big box stores!

  • Jennifer says:

    We need our walk-behind lawn mower tuned up/blades sharpened, etc this year. My two neighbors also need this done. The small engine repairman is coming to my home to service all three mowers and each of us will have a 20.00 discount on the service which is normally 80.00! It pays to ask! We made it worthwhile for him by saving his gas expense.

  • Faith Storms says:

    In June, we are moving back to the area where both my husband and I grew up. We will be in the rental property that we got for at least three years while he finishes his last three years of medical school. I asked the landlord if he would give us a discount for committing to a three year lease and he did! The place was listed for $675/month and we are going to be paying $650/month. It never hurts to ask…the worst thing that will happen is hearing “no”!

  • Emily says:

    I saved 20% on my hospital bill after having our daughter! All I did was call and ask for it. (We just needed to pay the balance within 30 days).

  • Em says:

    When you make a hotel reservation, ask “what is the lowest price you can give me?”. I have successfully gotten cheaper prices a few times. Also compare prices on-line and then call in person to make the reservation.

    Also Colombia will take jackets that need repair and either repair them or send you a replacement for the price of shipping it to them. I sent in two coats and received free ones within a few weeks…that will save me many dollars to use them instead of having to buy new next winter.

  • Jodi says:

    Omg! I am queen of this. Of course, i always embarress my family! This year i asked for a discount on our xmas tree and they gave me one! The worse they can say is no!

  • Heather says:

    We use Samaritan Ministries for health care and after an emergency c-section for our son I called each Dr. (neonatolotists, anesthesiologists, OB, radiologist) and the hospital/lab itself and got each to agree to 40% off if I paid within 30 days. I put them all on the credit card right away on the phone and then paid those off as soon as they came from our emergency fund. Then it was submitted and we were completely reimbursed by Samaritan members. Overall I know it was at least $13,000 off the original bills. And some were totally set up for that discount and some I just mentioned that the others were all doing 40% off and they then agreed…it paid to ask! And it is funny to hear them scramble to take your money since most offices NEVER have someone actually pay for something right away. Sometimes I had to be transferred, sometimes they just had to figure it out, but it shows how removed people are from the actual payment/cost part of health care.

    Bonus was that the credit card had rewards so we built up a little extra cash with it and were able to use that during a rougher than expected delivery/recovery period.

    • It definitely pays to ask doctor’s offices and hospitals for discounts – their prices are artificially inflated because they usually expect insurance companies to negotiate them down. I am glad that Samaritan Ministries came through for you on such a big bill – I had wondered how it worked on the larger ones.

      • Heather says:

        Samaritan can handle anything! Well, God can handle anything and Samaritan ministries members do their part.. We are part of the Save to Share as well (for needs that get above $250,000) and when we first signed up there had just been a heart transplant that cost about $1 million that had been shared with more than enough left to share from those in the program. It is growing quickly with all the health care issues going on and we are so, so grateful for this wonderful blessing!

    • What a blessing! The hospitals here only give 10% off if you pay in 30 days. I am amazed that you got 40%!

      • Heather says:

        For the hospital/lab it was just their policy. Most of the doctors would honor that same level when I mentioned it. One office had to have a copy of our hospital bill that showed they gave us that discount in order to honor 40%, but the others just did it when I told them. Really, they give much, much more of a discount to those who are insured and wait months for payment…they came out ahead of that with me and my prompt payment!

        Our pediatrician does the same thing. The standard there is 20, but he writes it up at 40%. When we had insurance they got about the equivalent of 30% of the TOTAL from our insurance company so when we pay 60% on that day they are still ahead of what they got when we used insurance.

        As he says, it would be better if everyone was cash…prices would be real, we’d know the costs upfront (like every other store/service we purchase in life) and all the crazy paperwork and fights would go away! We agree 🙂

  • corrine says:

    We always ask for discounts if paying in cash and for paying a bill in full. We also got a free month of garbage service for paying in full. I always ask at places like Kohl’s if they have any coupons I could use, especially if I forgot mine. It have saved a lot of money for just asking if that is the best deal and then being quiet, it works!

  • Sarah says:

    I have asked for discounts on things probably 20 times, but people always say no. I usually take it personally and cry when I get off the phone. Is there some tip to doing this? I’m 30, but have a very young sounding voice so people don’t take me seriously. Most recently, I ordered a case of formula for my baby from Target, and they all came crushed and leaking. I asked for a discount and they said $5 off was the best they could do–on $250 in damaged product which required me to drive 20 minutes to the closest store to return.

    I’ve heard of people doing this, but it’s never worked for me.

    • Jessica says:

      I am young but I use that to my advantage, especially when it comes to “guy things” such as auto parts purchased, repair work, ect. I straight up tell them I’m on a tight budget and the only way I could make it work is if there is a discount.

      Recently I saved $150 off a replacement battery for my car by going directly to the auto parts store and asking for a discount there. They installed it for me for free also

    • Heather says:

      I think part of it is just asking if it is the best they can do with a sincere, nice voice and then just being quiet. Sometimes they hem and haw, but when it comes down to it most people want to help and want you to be their customer. I state my case, ask and then wait. And if they say no you lost nothing…don’t worry about it, they sure aren’t!

  • My husband is a teacher, and I’m amazed at all of the businesses that offer discounts to teachers. If we made a habit of searching out those discounts and shopping at those retailers when possible, I feel certain we could save $100 a year that way alone.

  • Ac says:

    These are all great and I’ve done all of them in the past – much to my husband’s embarrassment. 🙂 I would encourage people to ask for a discount period. I often get quotes for services and say, “I don’t want to pay more than X. Can you do that?” It’s amazing how often they do. I’ve also asked for a discount on an item in a store. Just ask if they’re able/willing to take less. The worst they can do is say no!

  • Mary Ann says:

    My husband is good about this. When we bought our laptop fairly recently, he asked how much better they could do since we bought the store model (last they had in stock). Just for asking, he got an extra 10% off plus we had store coupons(Staples) and it was on sale!

    When buying cars, he’ll ask for certain discounts and waiving fees that they say they have to charge–some say no but many say yes. Doesn’t hurt to ask! Paying cash helps too!

    I’ll admit this doesn’t come easily for me–I’m rather shy– but when buying produce to can in the summer, I’ll ask what their best price is if I buy x amount of tomatoes or green beans, etc. Already being a regular farmer’s market customer helps too! I’ve gotten really good deals this way. One farmer quoted me a good price once and then when I picked up the tomatoes, he charged half of what he’d quoted. The tomatoes were very ripe and perfect for canning but he would’ve had to throw them out the next day otherwise–he was thankful that I had asked for them!

  • This isn’t a discount that is repeatable, but recently we were faced with a rather steep doctor’s bill after our insurance refused to pay a portion of it (we didn’t realize part of my husband’s surgery was specifically excluded in the policy). We had already gone through the appeals process and gotten the bill down as low as we could on our insurance’s end, but when we saw how much our doctor’s office reduced the insurance company’s portion (by over 70%) we asked if they could give us a discount on the portion the insurance wasn’t paying. They said that they would meet us 50/50, which saved us $1,100.

  • Kristine says:

    We had major driveway work done last Fall. Grading and two trucks of crushed concrete spread and graded. I asked if they would give a cash discount, and they knocked $75 off the quoted price.

  • Becka says:

    I noticed two hams at the grocery store had the expiration date of the day I was shopping so I asked if the meat manager could discount them. First he said that normally another person handles that but when I asked if he could discount them he said he could if I could wait while he repackaged them. I was going to ask if he could mark them down to $1 a pound, but he suggested 69 cents a pound–definitely worth a few minutes wait!

  • Jessica says:

    I have had great success with this. I save a lot of money by asking for employer discounts. Typically I work for large health care systems that partner with community businesses.

    I’ve saved 10% off of apartment rent, cell phone bills, gym memberships, car repairs, and car parts.

    One tip I wanted to share is stopping into auto parts stores for things like replacement wiper blades, new batteries, air filters, ect. I’ve saved the money a third party would mark it up and most times 10% off the item. If its a simple replacement of a product your buying from them, and their not busy, I’ve found they will usually help.

  • Teachers!! We get so many discounts (often 10-20%) at a ton of businesses just by showing our teacher ID! You can find a list of stores that offer discounts at (hope it’s okay to post a link!). I use mine at Michael’s all the time (15% off total purchase).

    • Cheryl says:

      Homeschoolers can often get the teacher discount if you show a student ID card (if you buy curriculum). I’ve heard of people who make their own student ID cards for their homeschooled kids to get these discounts.

  • Cheryl says:

    We’ve purchased “demonstration” models of DVR’s and TV’s that were offered with a discount because they were “used”.

  • Candice says:

    About 11 months after I got my Kindle Fire, I started having problems getting it to charge. My husband called Amazon and they sent me a new one with a postage paid box to ship my old one back to them. They have the best customer service of any company we have ever dealt with over the phone! 🙂

    • Selena says:

      The very same thing happened to us, and within days we had a new Kindle at our door. I agree, excellent customer service!

  • Tia Robertson says:

    I’m the discount queen in our family too! (Of course my biggest discount was canceling out TV and home phone altogether, but that doesn’t really count does it? 🙂 I cut our internet by over $20/mo by asking for a discount just yesterday (much to my family’s shock and amazement:)
    I recently got an $80/yr discount on our car/home/life insurance (on top of our ‘renewal discount rate), and will receive another ‘discount’ when I pay the premium in full:) Joann Fabrics offers a student discount (LOVE IT), which can be used with other coupons and promotions for an additional 10% off everything in the store. I also ask for discounts on dented cans at the grocery store (my Fred Meyer location LOVES that I help them clean their shelves:) , and near-date meat and dairy! I have yet to try asking for a case discount, but I will now for everything we do buy!

  • WilliamB says:

    Ask for discount for cash. Go for at least 5%.

    Cash is very reliable – it can’t bounce or be dishonored – and the merchant needn’t pay credit or debit card fees. So if you want to pay cash, as many readers here do, you should get some of the benefit as well.

    • My husband laughed at me when I asked our plumber and the boring company for a discount if we paid cash. We were replacing our waterline that had a leak in it. Both said “No one has ever asked that before. Normally we wouldn’t, but … Yes, we’ll give you a discount for paying cash.”

      Another time while on a date we realized that it was the night for the coffee shop to have discounted coffee. We stopped in for a treat. The cakes in the display looked so tempting and we decided to splurge. There were two kinds and I left it up to DH to decide. He opted for the cake of which there was only 1 slice left. I’m not sure what inspired me, but I asked if they would give us a discount on it, as it was the last slice. (my thinking was that if we didn’t eat it, they would have to have that space taken up in the morning for the one left over piece of day old cake, rather than a whole line from a new one they would cut up.) They said yes and gave us half off. It was a great date, and my husband laughed at me the whole time.

      Now we are looking to have our house painted and some other work done. One of the first things my husband asked, when I said I was going to get quotes for the work, was “Did you ask them for a cash discount?” I didn’t, but plan to once we get the quotes back. I also need to call the electrician who recently did work for us and see if they would give us a discount for paying cash. It is well worth it for me to run to the bank and go pay a bill that day if they are willing to give me a discount.

  • Anne says:

    My cable company refuses to give promotional discounts meant for new customers to existing customers. If we had an alternative for high speed internet, I would move away from them entirely but we don’t (the phone company can’t even keep a basic phone line working – I’m not about to trust them with DSL). I do occasionally get a small break from the cable company by telling them that I won’t agree to additional services without a break on the cost, reminding them that I’ve been a loyal customer for a long time.

    • Heather says:

      If your credit report has changed recently, don’t forget to call up all your services and ask about discounts again! My husband and I have worked very hard over the last seven years to clean up his credit and as of November, it is immaculate. I called our auto insurance and our premium is dropping $40/month and we’re getting better coverage!!

    • Heather says:

      Sorry, Ann, I don’t know why it replied to you! My comment wasn’t supposed to be a reply 🙂

  • Casey says:

    I once worked in a store where if people asked if we had a discount for X, the response was always supposed to be, “Yes,” and we’d give them a 10% discount on the cost of labor, just for asking. Once a woman told me the story of how a bird dropping broke her windshield that had us both laughing until we couldn’t breathe. She was shocked when she joked, “Do I get a discount for making you laugh?” and my response was, “Yes!” As a customer service rep, even when the answer’s, “No,” I’m not offended when you ask, so why not try?

  • Larissa says:

    Just yesterday I asked if a store would price-match on a product I *know* has a lower regular price (I took a photo on my iphone a while ago as I recognised it was such a good price, so that I could remember where it was). I however was after the extra-large sized black ink cartridge, and this was why I was a this particular store instead of the cheaper one. I decided that I really do need some spare colour cartridges, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask … Not only did I get the colour cartridges reduced to *below* the other store’s price (aparently it’s easier to key in $15.00 than it is to key in $15.36 ?!!), but they also reduced the cost of the larger black cartridge even though I made sure they knew I’d come there because the other store didn’t stock this bigger one. I didn’t expect it, but I was very pleased that I did ask – as Crystal said, the worst they can say is “no” 🙂

  • Jen says:

    We have been ruthlessly trying to reduce our expenses for the past few years. Switching auto insurance last year saved us $700 a year! Doing a streamline mortgage on our home shaved 1 year off our term, and reduced our payment by $100 per month ($1200 per year). Every year we get a notice from our phone/internet/cable company informing us that they have to raise prices due to blah, blah, blah. Every year my husband calls and points out how long we’ve been excellent customers, and that we recently received information regarding the newest promotional rate they’re offering new customers. Every year they discount our service to keep it at the same rate, and for some reason, this year, they actually discounted it an extra $10 per month, so it went down! This alone saves us tons, because by now it would be about $50 higher per month if he didn’t call every year.

    After our most recent blizzard, my husband totalled his truck on the way to work. We were determined to find something comparable or better with the amount our insurance paid out on the truck. We had JUST paid off our mini-van, had no car payments, and didn’t want another one. It took a few months, but my husband found a slightly older truck with 40,000 fewer miles, and power options (didn’t have on old truck), in much better shape than his had been. He took the new (used) truck to be checked out by a mechanic before purchasing, and got $300 dollars knocked off the price for a repair it needed. Even after the repair, he got the truck for a total of $300 LESS than our insurance paid out!

    Next up for reduction? Our cell phone plan.

  • Rachel N. says:

    I saved $76.32 on our cell phone bill by emailing our cell phone provider and asking if they would waive the upgrade fees from when we bought new cell phones. I sent a polite email stating that we had been long-time customers. It turnes out my work discount covers these fees and they waived them immediately. $36 per phone + tax: $76.32 back in my pocket for spending five minutes sending a courteous email! I am learning more and more every day that it never hurts to ask!

  • Jennifer says:

    I just wrote a post the other week about evaluating our current bills. I’ve been able to get one time credits on my cell phone bill by simply calling them and letting them know I was looking for ways to reduce my monthely expenses.

    When I purchased new furniture, a few years back, I asked them if they would give me a discount if I paid in full with cash.

    During college I would carry my ID with me and get discounts at a ton of places. Lots of restaurants give college discounts and even some theatres, gyms, and salons. It never hurts to ask.

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