Most of you who read this blog are probably SAHMs. Yet, I feel that this reaches beyond us. What I am going to discuss affects anyone who spends money. I want to help you make sure you are getting the most for your money.
My husband works really hard to allow me the opportunity to stay at home with our kids. I see how tiring his job is and how thankless it is. This makes it all the more important to me to make sure we all get the most for the money he makes. For example, in the past two weeks I have saved us $2,285 and that is not using coupons. That is by contacting companies and doing my research.
Example one, the $60 gift card that was in my mail last week. I received this from Yankee Candle after I contacted them regarding a broken jar topper I had received as a gift. It had only been on top of one of the Yankee Candle large jars for about 20 minutes and it shattered. I took pictures and wrote the company. When I didn't hear anything back after a few days, I posted a comment on the Yankee Candle Facebook page. Within an hour I had a reply on Facebook with a different e-mail to send my concern to. Within 10 minutes of resending the e-mail, someone from Yankee Candle contacted me. Now, the topper itself is worth less than $20, but because companies want to keep your business, they will almost always go above and beyond and send you more than what the product was worth. In this instance, I was not being petty. When I am using a product correctly, it shouldn't just break, especially when it is new. Also, I have children, I don't want something that is going to shatter glass all over the place.
Example 2, the $15 gift card from Bath and Body Works. I had one of their lotions and the pump would not work. Since I don't splurge on their lotion very often, I was upset. Not only did the pump not work, but it was a glass bottle that I was having to shake to get lotion out. Not very safe. I contacted them via e-mail and received a call the next day. I also gave them an idea of how to improve another product. In return, I received the gift card. I was still able to use the other lotion, it was just an inconvenience and not something I would expect for the price I paid.
Example 3, the $2200 savings we are getting from a roof we are having installed this week. This was simple enough. We got 3 quotes, then I went to the second highest to see if they would meet the lowest. They were willing. Then I went to the company that we really wanted and had the highest bid. I called and told the salesman that we really wanted to go with their company, but they were a lot higher than the rest. I told him everything the other companies were willing to do and he then brought his price down to meet the other companies and we are getting the gutters done also. All it took was about 10 more minutes of my time, instead of just going with the guy who gave us the lowest bid. Now we are going with a company that has put roofs and gutters on many of the businesses and homes in the area, along with most of the buildings at the rail yard.
One final example deals with my mortgage. Any of you who have a mortgage (and for some of you who rent, you may experience the same thing) know that each year you will get a statement from the bank explaining how they are going to change what you pay due to increases in taxes or insurance, etc. Last year we got the letter and they were wanting to double our mortgage. After a mild heart attack, I took a deep breathe and contacted the bank. I asked them to explain the breakdown of what would be causing the increase in charges. I then called my insurance company to see what they thought my insurance would be for the next year. Then I called the county assessors office to see what the taxes would be for the next year. Once I had collected those numbers, I called back my mortgage company and relayed the information. They were also trying to convince me that due to some federal ruling, they could require a certain percentage to be in escrow at all times. That is actually not true. They couldn't make me, they could request. So, after crunching the numbers, instead of my mortgage doubling, it went up by $1.
I will say that making the calls and doing all of this leads me to be teased a lot by my family. About two weeks ago they were really giving it to me. Normally it is something along the lines of, if something goes wrong, a remark is made that I should call about it. I don't call about everything, just things that I feel could be better. I just remarked back that I am just making sure we get our monies worth and, in the long run, I have probably saved us more than we have spent.
How do I get the results I do? First and foremost, it never hurts to ask. I have contacted pet food companies and grocery stores and in each case, I have gotten more back than what I put into the product. Also, don't call when you are upset. When you start out upset, you won't get anywhere. As a consumer, we have the right to expect certain standards and to contact the company if they don't meet our standards. Before you call, think about why you purchased that product and/or why you went with that company. I usually start an e-mail or phone conversation with that reasoning. With Yankee Candle, I explained that I have used their products for years because of the quality and smell. It is always good to start with a compliment, then explain your issue. Companies want to keep their consumers and are more than willing to appease you because an unhappy consumer is ten times more likely to tell others about their bad experience than a happy consumer. Do your research. My dad has said I should call companies on behalf of others for a living. It doesn't take a lot of time. I have never spent over 30 minutes between the research and contacting the company. I won't say that every time I contact a company, it goes well. But I do have a pretty good success rate. I also have no problem asking to speak with a manager. That is why they are there and, most of the time, the first person you speak to may not be able to help you anyway.
If you are a little hesitant to contact a company, try the easy route first. Figure out what one of your favorite products is. It can be a food item, beauty item, anything. Go to the website for that company and find their e-mail address. Then write them an e-mail telling them what product(s) you like and why. Within a few weeks, 9 times out of 10, you will receive coupons from that company.
I truly believe everyone deserves to get the most for their money. Especially in times like these where gas and food prices are on the rise, we should be expecting more for the little luxuries in life. You may not feel like you can contact a company, but I promise you can. If I could hand out homework, I would tell you to contact that clothing store, grocery store, ice cream brand that you like, then let me know how it turns out. Or, if you have an issue that you aren't sure how to contact the company about, let me know. I have figured out most ways to either get contact info for a company or to at least get around some of the red tape.
I promise, you can all get the most for your money, it just takes a little practice!