How To Get More Than You Pay For

By Michael Peterson
In January 16, 2005

Do you always wish you could have more but spend less? Well, you may not be able to get that sports car for a steal, but there are ways to make your dollars go further and perhaps get some items you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. Or you can use a little chutzpah and bargain down prices on items you can already afford, and save a little extra. Pay for what you get, but get more than you pay for.

  • Have no regrets. Keep a spending journal of every dollar you spend over a period of a few months. Include not just utility bills, credit card bills, and mortgages, but money you spend on going to the movies, on buying clothes and toys, and on nights out on the town. Then sit down and go over your list. Do you have any regrets? Probably. Do you wish you hadn’t bought that treadmill? Next time, think about what you might regret BEFORE you spend the money. A little forethought goes a long way.
  • Choose the right credit cards. You might get a lot of credit card offers in the mail, but only choose and use the ones that are right for you. You don’t want a lot of extra charges and high interest rates. Lots of cards offer special deals where you get a reward for every dollar you spend. Maybe your card gives you airline miles, but if you never fly anywhere, what good are they? Switch to a card that gives you something you can use, like money towards gas, or towards your children’s college fund.
  • Shop in season. Did you know that if you wait and buy your swimsuit in June, you’ll get it on sale? Clothes that are actually in season are considered by retailers to be past season–they push their products a few months ahead of time. So even though sweaters start showing up on the racks in September, wait until November and you can get current styles at past-season prices.
  • Engage in the classic art of haggling. It may seem unusual or rude, but in all actuality, many retailers have the ability to give you discounts you didn’t even know were there. But you have to ask for them.
  • Don’t turn up your nose at store brands. Many of them are the exact same quality as the name brands, but for a much better price. Especially when it comes to over-the-counter drugs. Compare the active ingredients and you will find that the drugstore brand of ibuprofen has the same pain relieving power as the name brand, but for a lot less.
  • Buying used does not always mean buying trash. Lately, “recycled” clothing stores have popped up in the hippest parts of town, with designer label clothing, like-new, for much much less. Just concentrate on buying items that are of good quality, and you will be getting an excellent deal.
  • Pay with cash. Paying in cash makes it feel real, unlike credit cards. You’ll spend less when you have to physically fork over the greenbacks.
  • Complain. If you receive bad service at a restaurant, don’t sit and stew about it, speak up. You may receive a free meal or at least a discount. If you find a small spot of makeup on a shirt at the store, point it out. You may get a percentage off, and you can wash the spot out when you get home. If you have bad reception on your cable for a day, ask your service provider to deduct that day’s worth from your bill. Speaking up can get you discounts on everything from food to utilities to rent.

These days there is a great deal of focus on saving money, and it often requires sacrifices. But there are also ways to save money and still get great quality goods and services. If you follow these tips, sometimes you’ll get more than you bargain for.

Michael Peterson

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.