The other day I was in our local grocery store doing our weekly shopping. As I came to our meat department, I noticed that the manager was going through sections and marking down meat that was nearing its “sell-by” date.
I love picking up reduced meat and freezing it for later. But, I was going to buy a whole chicken to roast for dinner later in the week, and he wasn’t marking those down. However, I thought, what the heck. I’ll just ask. I went over to him and said, half jokingingly, “You weren’t planning on marking any of the whole chickens down, were you?”
He walked with me back to that section and said, “Which one did you want?” My jaw dropped. I quickly picked up one and watched as he made a label–$4. Yup. $4 for a whole, organic chicken that was still 6 days away from its sell-by date.
I managed to stammer out a “Thank you” before he walked away.
With that $4 chicken, I made:
-a roast chicken in the crock pot (with a recipe I got from 100 Days of Real Food)
-3 small plastic bags for the freezer filled with shredded chicken to put on pizzas or in pastas
-3 big bags of chicken stock to freeze and use for soups
That’s 7 meals out of one (extremely) inexpensive chicken!
This experience reminded me that it never hurts to ask.
One Simple Way to Save: Just Ask!
I am by nature an introverted person who avoids conflict and hates looking silly. Because of this, I had the hardest time learning how to ask for a discount.
I worried: What if they think I’m cheap? What if they think I’m ridiculous for offering that price? What if….and so I didn’t ask. And, I didn’t receive.
But, when our grocery budget got extremely tight (try $40 a week for a family of four), I had to swallow my pride and ask. I have been amazed by the amount of times that people say yes. I’ve gotten reduced prices on meat, produce, dairy, and bread. My success at the grocery store got me into the habit of asking in other places.
Where to Ask for a Discount
1. Grocery Store
Ask to speak with the produce manager or the meat department manager at your grocery store. Find out if and when they mark down meat, dairy, produce, and bread that are near their expiration date. You can freeze it (yes, you can even freeze cheese!), and use it later. (I’ve written an entire post on What Frugal People Freeze.)
2. Farmer’s Market
I generally like to go to the market early so that I can have a wide selection to choose from. However, you can get some really good deals if you go near the end of the day. I had a roommate in graduate school who would go to our farmer’s market ten minutes before closing time. She would say, “I have $5, how much can you give me?” She soon learned which vendors offered the best deals on their produce. One time she came home with two big bags of fresh fruits and vegetables–all for $5!
3. Doctor’s Office
If you can pay in cash all at once, most doctor’s office (or dentists, hospitals, etc.) will give you a discount. I had a large hospital bill after a medical procedure. I called and asked to speak with the manager of the billing department. I asked her point blank, “How much of a discount could you give me if I paid this all at once?” She took 20% off of my bill right then!
4. Cable/ Internet/ Cell Phone Services
It seems that I can’t turn on the television without seeing a commercial for a new cell phone plan or cable package. Make a note of any special offers that you see advertised. Then, call your current provider and say, “I recently saw your ad for _____ (fill in the blank). My current rate is ______. Can I have the newly advertised rate?” If you remain polite and calm, many times you will be able to negotiate a new rate fairly easily.
5. Bartering with Friends
We have never paid for a babysitter. Ever. We swap date nights with friends of ours from church who have kids around the same ages as ours. About a year and a half ago I posted this on Facebook, “One of my New Year’s goals is to go on more date nights with my husband. Would anyone want to trade babysitting in order to make this happen?” Our lovely friends said they were in, and both couples have enjoyed date nights for over a year!
Don’t be afraid to ask your friends if you can trade services. Maybe you can sew a costume for a friend’s child while she tutors yours. Or, perhaps you will give herbs from your garden to a friend who has too many tomatoes. Maybe you have excellent grammar and can edit resumes or papers in exchange for custom business cards. The possibilities are endless.
The moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to ask. You may be surprised at what you receive.
If you’d like more practical tips for saving money at the grocery store, I highly recommend Crystal Paine’s (of Money Saving Mom) audio course called Grocery University. The course contains over two and a half hours of audio material, a 40-page workbook, and a PDF file of rock bottom prices. I have learned SO much from Crystal over the past seven years and cannot recommend this course highly enough! It’s a steal at $10!
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