There are three lessons you must learn to get the best deals. We'll first cover these lessons then spend some time looking at some very specific ways to save.
These three lessons are really quite simple, yet may take some time to learn. I first learned these from Dave Ramsey ( www.daveramsey.com ).
First, you must be willing to try to negotiate. You can't be afraid to ask for a bargain. As you negotiate,
• Always tell the absolute truth—don't sacrifice your integrity for a deal.
• Use the power of cash—don't be afraid to walk around with cash for fear of getting mugged. You've been getting mugged at the mall for years!
• Be willing to walk away
• Learn to ask then "shut up"—wait for an answer before making a second offer.
• Be bold enough to say, "That's not good enough" when you get your answer and it's not the one you want.
• Talk with the boss—if the salesman "can't" give you the deal you want, thank them, then ask to speak to their supervisor.
• Consider attaching something else to the deal—If you can't get the price you want on the dishes, ask for a small set of glasses, etc.
The second lesson you must learn to get great deals is to have patience. Be willing to check other deal locations for similar products. Don't fall in love with a particular purchase.
Finally, to get the best deals, you must know where to go to get the best deals. For most kinds of purchases, you can get valuable advice and comparisons on the Internet. Ask a librarian or friends which Internet sites they think are helpful, or you can use a search engine like Google or Yahoo. Be aware that information you find is often biased. At many websites, the only products or sellers listed are ones that pay to advertise. Before buying anything on the Internet, check several websites and make sure you deal with reputable dealers.
* Compare low-cost carriers with major carriers that fly to your destination. Remember, the best fares may not be out of the airport closest to you.
* You may save by including a Saturday evening stay-over or by purchasing the ticket at least 14 days in advance. Ask which days of the week and times of the day have the lowest fare.
* Even if you are using a travel agent, check airline and Internet travel sites, and look for special deals. If you call, always ask for the lowest fare to your destination.
* Since car rental rates can vary greatly, compare total price (including taxes and surcharge) and take advantage of any special offers and membership discounts.
* Rental car companies offer various insurance and waiver options. Check with your automobile insurance agent and credit card company in advance to avoid duplicating any coverage you may already have.
* You can save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a car by selecting a model that combines a low purchase price with low depreciation, financing, insurance, gasoline, maintenance, and repair costs. Ask your local librarian for new car guides that contain this information.
* Having selected a model and options you are interested in, you can save hundreds of dollars by comparison shopping. Get price quotes from several dealers (over the phone or Internet) and let each know you are contacting the others.
* Remember there is no "cooling off" period on new car sales. Once you have signed a contract, you are obligated to buy the car.
* Before buying any used car:
• Compare the seller's asking price with the average retail price in a "bluebook" or other guide to car prices which can be found at many libraries, banks, and credit unions.
• Have a mechanic you trust check the car, especially if the car is sold "as is."
• Consider purchasing a used car from an individual you know and trust. They are more likely than other sellers to charge a lower price and point out any problems with the car.
* Don't decide to lease a car just because the payments are lower than on a traditional auto loan. The leasing payments are lower because you don't actually own the car.
* Leasing a car is very complicated. When shopping, consider the price of the car (known as the capitalized cost), your trade-in allowance, any down payment, monthly payments, various fees (excess mileage, excess "wear and tear," end-of- lease), and the cost of buying the car at the end of the lease. A valuable source of information about auto leasing can be found in Keys to Vehicle Leasing: A Consumer Guide, which is published by the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Trade Commission.
* You can save hundreds of dollars a year by comparing prices at different stations, pumping gas yourself, and using the lowest-octane called for in your owner's manual.
* You can save up to $100 a year on gas by keeping your engine tuned and your tires inflated to their proper pressure.
* Consumers lose billions of dollars each year on unneeded or poorly done car repairs. The most important step that you can take to save money on these repairs is to find a skilled, honest mechanic. Before you need repairs, look for a mechanic who:
• is certified and well established;
• has done good work for someone you know; and
• communicates well about repair options and costs.
* You can save several hundred dollars a year by purchasing auto insurance from a licensed, low-price insurer. Call your state insurance department for a publication showing typical prices charged by different companies. Then call at least four of the lowest-priced, licensed insurers to learn what they would charge you for the same coverage.
* Talk to your agent or insurer about raising your deductibles on collision and comprehensive coverage to at least $500 or, if you have an old car, dropping this coverage altogether. This can save you hundreds of dollars on insurance premiums.
* Make certain that your new policy is in effect before dropping your old one.
* You can save several hundred dollars a year on homeowner insurance and up to $50 a year on renter insurance by purchasing insurance from a low-price, licensed insurer. Ask your state insurance department for a publication showing typical prices charged by different licensed companies. Then call at least four of the lowest priced insurers to learn what they would charge you. If such a publication is not available, it is even more important to call at least four insurers for price quotes.
* Make certain you purchase enough coverage to replace the house and its contents. "Replacement" on the house means rebuilding to its current condition.
* Make certain your new policy is in effect before dropping your old one.
* If you want insurance protection only, and not a savings and investment product, buy a term life insurance policy.
* If you want to buy a whole life, universal life, or other cash value policy, plan to hold it for at least 15 years. Canceling these policies after only a few years can more than double your life insurance costs.
* Check the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website (www.naic.org/cis) or your local library for information on the financial soundness of insurance companies.
Bob Louder is the Founder and President of Christian Financial Ministries (www.good-steward.org). Bob is also the author of the new best selling book, "Debt Free Living God's Way," available only on the Internet (www.debtfreelivinggodsway.org). Since 1987 Bob has helped people in hundreds of churches all across the country and in the European military community learn, understand, apply and pass on "Debt Free Living God's Way" principles and practical applications. He has represented some of the top Christian financial authors and ministries to include Larry Burkett, Dave Ramsey, Christian Financial Concepts, and Crown Ministries.
Copyright 2006 Christian Financial Ministries, Inc., All Rights Reserved. You may reprint this "Special Report" in whole or in part without permission from Christian Financial Ministries, Inc. Please credit material used to Christian Financial Ministries, Inc.