Ok, it may not be quite that straightforward, but pretty darn so. Previously, I was gushing over Benjamin Moore's Aura paint, which I still love. I do not, however, love the $20 price tag for one quart of paint. Our local Benjamin Moore/Porter Paints was having a Labor Day sale on gallons of paint, so of course, I had to drag Tom there. Optimus came along too and hung out while I lamented over the colors for our front door and deck and whether or not I wanted to paint it with exterior paint or with completely solid colored stain.
(Yes, he blends into the couch fairly well)
As it turns out, this is going to be a post not about my adorable nightstand I just painted, but rather about negotiating and how that can have a big impact on what is possible for us to do with our house.
While the paint guy was having an entirely too lengthy discussion about the different kinds of paint and which are low-VOC and which are No-VOC, I told him about some of my furniture projects. Instead of the Aura Paint, he recommended Porter Paints line called "Advantage 900" which is supposedly better than the Aura Paint...at least for things that get a lot of wear, such as chairs. You can also get it in your choice of oil-based or water-based. Only gallons were on sale, so I expressed how I was disappointed since I don't really have the desire to paint 6 different pieces the same color. He understood my predicament and told me he could work out a deal with me with the quarts of paint (which was at least $5 cheaper a quart than the Aura). I picked out 4 colors thinking he might give me a better deal if I bought a larger quantity...so I asked if he could possibly go lower (my brother has been teaching me to ask for things like that. What's the worst that happens? They say no?). He told me the lowest price he could go was $13.97/quart (instead of the $15) and I said, "Ok, I will only go with these 3 today", completely prepared to walk out with the 3. He said, "Wait a minute. What is your last color? I'll just give it to you for free". So I walked out with an extra quart of purple paint and I paid $13.97 for each of the other quarts. Free paint plus more fairly discounted paint.
Lesson Learned: Ask for what you want. There are some great articles on this site for women Learn Vest, which specifically gives financial advice for females such as credit card rates changing and what prime rate gaps mean, how to understand your salary, graduation checklists, budgeting tools, understanding credit scores and how to improve them and how to save money on fun things like hosting dinner parties, obtaining fashion at a low cost, budgeting for fun things. Written by women for women. Recently, they did an article about negotiating, which was eye-opening and inspiring.
If you are interesting in learning about how to ask for what you want effectively, check out their blog post "How to Complain About Bad Service and Negotiate Effectively", which provides 5 tips to live by as well as giving references to other research being done about the topic. To find out more about the differences in men and women in effective negotiating, you can check out the webpage for the new book Women Don't Ask; Negotiation and the Gender Divide by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever.
- Women's earnings relative to men's have stagnated at 73.2%.
- In surveys, 2.5 times more women than men said they feel "a great deal of apprehension" about negotiating.
- Men initiate negotiations about 4 times as often as women.
- Women will pay as much as $1,353 to avoid negotiating the price of a car.
- Women who consistently negotiate their salary increases earn at least $1 million more during their careers than women who don't.
Anyway, some interesting food for thought.
(He's awesome. Notice how he's "helping". By "helping", I mean snoring so loud it is interfering with my ability to hear my songs on itunes.)
How Negotiating and Just Plain Asking Has Helped Us:
- We negotiated for all of our closing costs to be paid for us, which saved several thousand dollars.
- We keep my brother on our phone plan with AT&T to get better rates. He gets a corporate rate of 14% off for his plan, so we split the amount saved. Plus, he calls up the phone company about once a month and asks them to take things off our bill.
- When we go bargain hunting for furniture, I typically have a certain amount of money in my pocket. I tell the sellers (usually men) exactly what pieces I want and how much money I want to spend. Almost always, I walk out with exactly what I want.
- At one secondhand store in town, I told them I lived close and wanted to buy a few things but couldn't fit them in my car. Free delivery in their truck immediately...plus they carried the furniture into my house exactly where I wanted it. Yes, I know there are perks to living in a small town.
- Craigslist: Posters are frequently frustrated with people who are flaky, don't have cash, have a difficult schedule, etc. Usually, when I make an offer for something on CL, it is for at least 25% less than they listed it for. However, my emails generally include, "We have cash on hand and are ready to pick up the item as soon as possible. Let us know when you are available and we can be there." More often than not, we get the items for the price we ask for because we cut out that hassle and time wasting part that CL so often provides.
- When there is a bigger item at a chain store I want to buy, I ask the managers when the next sale is going to be on that item. Generally, they know and aren't at all apprehensive to share that information.
Growing up in a very frugal family, I always felt really uncomfortable about negotiating because I was embarrassed. However, I have come to recognize the definite merits of it and know how it has helped us in our endeavors with this house, even though it has been only 3 months.
Another cute puppy picture because he just looks like such a sad sack. He's a happy puppy...really.
If any of this financial information is at all interesting, leave a comment letting me know and I can include more tips and examples of ways we have cut the costs of our endeavors.
Currently Listening to "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns and Roses
P.S. This post had no pictures. That wasn't right, so I went back through and included some which may not make complete sense with this post. Oh well. They're pretty.
Currently Listening to "Things I Don't Remember" by Ugly Casanova (as of when pictures got inserted)