One of the best parts of living in a modern capitalist country is that, in many industries, lots of companies are competing for your business. They all want you as a customer and they’re quite willing to cut their profit margins down to little slivers in order to win you over, because a sliver of profit is better than no profit at all and because a new customer has a chance to become a regular customer.
In those competitive markets – and there are a lot, ranging from cellular and internet providers to hotels and airlines – the customer has a lot of power.
It’s up to you to leverage that power.
Hotels provide a great opportunity to take advantage of competing deals.
Let’s say you’re traveling and you need to get a hotel room. The simple route is to identify a hotel in the area you’re traveling to and simply book a room at that first hotel.
The better route, though, is to identify a few hotels and leverage them against each other.
Call each of the hotels you’re considering and ask them for their rate on the type of room you want. Take the lowest rate, then call the hotel that you’d most like to stay at.
Tell the person at the reservation desk that you’d like to stay there for the night but that the other hotel offers the same room for that lower rate and ask the hotel to match. Quite often, they will match, particularly if they’re not filled up for the night and you’re calling directly to a specific hotel.
This doesn’t work as well with reservations, but you can still give it a shot.
Where else can you use such direct price leverage? It can work well with airlines – don’t just stick with the price you get online. It can work with cell phone service and internet service, too. In many stores, it can work with groceries and other such items, but it’s often not worth the effort compared to just going to the other store.
The key thing to remember is that you should never settle for the first rate you’re offered, especially if competitors are offering better prices.
Using this tactic can often get you a better quality item for a lower price, maximizing your bang for the buck. That’s how to live cheap in style.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.