For today's savings tip I wanted to share some personal experiences that I had yesterday that allowed me to save about $125 and still get exactly what I needed. Let me quickly mention though that this tip is something that I am not inherently good at. I am a very quite person who doesn't like bothering others and I have social anxieties that make it hard for me to talk to people or express myself properly. So, this is a tip that I often struggle with even though I know it works wonders.
BE FRIENDLY AND ASK QUESTIONS!
I have found that people genuinely like helping people. Some people do it because it helps them feel like they have power and authority, some out of a feeling of connection to the person, and some because they are just nice people and enjoy the warm fuzzies it gives them.
Anyways, here's my stories from yesterday.
In getting ready for my upcoming trip to climb Kilimanjaro I found out that my passport needed to have at least 6 months before it expired in order for Tanzania to accept it. I knew that my passport was going to expire this fall sometime and had just assumed that I would be fine, but this week I looked at it and realized that it would expire 2 weeks short of the required 6 months. So I panicked and started to scramble to get it renewed. I need to have my new passport in less than 7 weeks and the passport office says that their standard processing time is 4-6 weeks. So I was panicking that given mail and processing time that I wouldn't get it back in time. I was already having to pay $110 to renew it and really didn't want to have to pay an extra $60 to expedite it or the $35 to have it overnighted both ways.
So I called Customer Services. I ended up talking to a nice guy named Sean who informed me that if I sent it in priory mail today that they would have plenty of time to get it back before my trip. He told me that having it overnighted to them would be a waste of money because it all just goes into one box on their dock and only gets collected once a week anyways. And that given their current load that the processing time will be less than normal so expediting it wouldn't be necessary. So instead of having to pay the extra $95 that I was worried I'd have to pay it only costed (now that's a word from the Rez right there) me $5.75 to ship it. So, Sean saved me from making a $90 mistake.
Second experience. I had to get a passport photo printed for my passport application but didn't have the ability to print one myself. So I spent a few minutes researching where the cheapest place to do it would be. I found that the post office was $15, most other places were $10-$13, and Walmart was $7.44 for two. So during my lunch break I went to Walmart. During the process of getting them taken and printed I was talking to the photo technician, Troy. I asked him, "If it's $7.44 for two, how much would it cost to just get one since that's all I need?" He told me that he could probably give it to me for cheaper but never said how much. So when it was finished and he handed me my one photo I asked how much I owed him, hoping for a 50% discount at best. His response, "You're good. Don't worry about it." I'll take a 100% discount any day, but would have been paying full price and throwing away the extra photo if I hadn't been friendly or asked the question. So, Troy saved me almost $8.
And my last savings experience from yesterday was due to a question my wife asked. Over the weekend we went to a Columbia outlet store near us to get me the water resistant pants that I'll need for Kilimanjaro. Shortly after arriving my wife asked one of the workers (sorry but I can't remember his name) for suggestions. In talking to him we mentioned that it was for climbing Kilimanjaro. He got all excited because he had been over there on safari recently and had been right at the base of Kilimanjaro but didn't get to do the climb. After talking about it for a while and getting his strong recommendations he told us he was going to go grab us something real quick. He came back with three, one time use, passed to the online Columbia store for the friends and family of employees in case we couldn't find what we needed in the store. It turned out that the pants that he highly recommended, and fit all the needs that we had found from doing our research about what to get, didn't fit. Apparently it's abnormal to need a pair of pants to be longer than they are wide (being tall and skinny isn't always a good thing in America). But they do carry size 32x34 online.
Anyways, last night we finally sat down to order me the right size, they are Grill colored Royce Peak pants if you're interested. They were regularly $60 plus taxes and shipping but since we had been in the friends and family site I was able to get them for $34, for a total of $42.71 after shipping and taxes. And I still have two more of the passes that he gave us. So, thus far this AWESOME guy (it still bothers me that I can't remember his name) has saved me at least $26 because we asked a question, were friendly, and made a connection.
So, try it out. I firmly believe that we are all in this saving effort together and people want to help one another. Man kind is AWESOME!, not selfish monsters. Try opening your mouth and try being friendly to others and asking them questions and you could be amazed at the results.
And when others are asking you questions, help 'em out too.