Home > Mom's Life > Family Finances > Saving Tips > How to Get a Good Deal on Services
|

How to Get a Good Deal on Services

Research Prices

Granted, this advice is as old as the hills, but you really should get three price quotes, especially for expensive services.

Is $18,000 a good price for re-siding your house? You really have no idea until you get multiple quotes. Is it reasonable to pay $80 a month for a gym membership? It depends on what you get, right? Maybe for you the YMCA is a better deal than Gold's Gym, LA Fitness, or Bally Total Fitness.

I could write a whole other book on finding travel deals. But you should especially compare prices on the staples of airline tickets, hotel rates, and rental cars -- and to some extent, cruises.

The Internet can help here too. Check the big online travel sites such as Expedia.com, Orbitz.com, and Travelocity.com. But you might find better flights and fares at such aggregation sites as Kayak.com, which searches 200 sites, and Mobissimo.com, which might be better for international flights. Both sites also search hotel and car-rental rates. If you don't know whether to book a flight now or later, check out Farecast.com, which helps you predict whether ticket prices to your route will be going up or down. You can bid for rates at Priceline.com and Hotwire.com. For travel reviews, see TripAdvisor.com.

The point of getting multiple price quotes is to know what the range of prices is. That's fundamental to being a smart spender.

Be Afraid of Commitment

One of the biggest consumer traps comes from subscription services. That includes a book-of-the-month club, satellite radio service for the car, a fitness club membership, or even your pay television service.

Automatic payments -- often monthly payments -- are insidious because they use inertia. Once you sign up for an automatically renewing service, it's way too easy to let it continue, even if you don't want the service anymore. Unless you're ultradisciplined, you probably have one of these automatic-payment spending regrets in your past -- and probably, you have one on your credit card bill right now.

It's understandable. We're busy people. But it's worth going through your credit card statement and automatic bank debits to find some services that you should eliminate. If a service is worth it to you, by all means, continue it. But chances are you'll find something to cut out that you won't miss.

The problem is that we, as consumers, are far too optimistic about how much we'll use services when we sign up. Marketers of services know this about us. That's why they always break down payments into easy installments, usually monthly. Sometimes, they go further, citing the price as "less than a dollar a day," instead of $350.

When considering a service, be wary of long-term commitments and choose a la carte or per-use pricing at firstâ"until you know how often you'll use the service. And convert the monthly cost to an annual cost, which seems to put it in better perspective. The $80-per-month gym membership doesn't sound so cheap when expressed as nearly $1,000 a year.

By the way, automatic spending is bad for the exact reason that automatic savings is good. You do it without thinking.



More on: Family Finances

|

From The 1-2-3 Money Plan Copyright © 2009, FT Press. Used by permission of FT Press, and Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

To order this book go to Amazon.


highlights

Teens and E-Cigarettes: 6 Things You Must Know
For the first time in a generation, tobacco use has risen among the nation's youth, due to the rising use of e-cigarettes. Learn more about the dangerous and addictive e-cigarette trend, and get tips to talk to your teen.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, brought to you by Galactic Hot Dogs.

Printable Lists of the Top 100 Baby Names
Need help with baby name ideas? Use our printable list of the top 100 girl names and top 100 boy names of 2015 to help you brainstorm and narrow down your favorites.

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks