Friend and freelance writer Les O’Dell shares this diary entry from the eighth session of Financial Peace University, a 13-week course from national talk-show host Dave Ramsey.
Compared to the weighty topics covered in recent sessions of Financial Peace University, the teaching for lesson eight was more lighthearted could be beneficial to everyone. Instead of teaching how to make more money or reduce debt, in this lesson Dave Ramsey talked about shopping – how to find the best deals on items.
While it was one of the shortest lessons in FPU, the material was packed with great information. Ramsey started by sharing basic guidelines – ground rules he called them – for finding big bargains. Of course, everything was prefaced on all of the previous lessons, so the bargain hunting needs to be done with cash (never credit or payments!) and only for items that are actually needed. The ground rules all revolve around issues of integrity: getting a great deal is never worth being untruthful or causing harm to anyone else.
Ramsey explained that there is nothing wrong in wanting to get a bargain. In fact, he explained that Americans are some of the only people in the world who do not go into every buy-sell setting expecting to negotiate. He shared that we often are too embarrassed or ashamed to ask for a lower price, while those in other countries are offended if you don’t try to haggle. He said to be counter-cultural and don’t be afraid to try to get a great deal.
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For the next segment of the DVD lesson, Ramsey shared what he called the “Lucky Seven Basic Rules of Negotiating.” Through personal stories and examples, he discussed the importance of honesty, “flashing cash” and simply being quiet in buying situations. He talked about how important it is just to ask for a better deal.
The techniques we learned as well as the encouragement to seek out better bargains works. The next day my wife was making a purchase at a local department store. She knows that the store often sends coupons to credit card holders (that excludes us…yea!). Regardless, she inquired about a discount when she was checking out. The clerk scanned a 10 percent-off coupon for her simply because she asked!
Ramsey shared other keys to bargain hunting as well, including having the patience to wait and being able to walk away from a potential purchase. He also talked about developing a willingness to pass on the “latest and greatest,” instead, opting for last year’s model, a display model or a “scratch and dent” bargain.
Finally, he shared ways and places to find great deals, ranging from the simple and tried-and-true such as coupons and yard sales to other approaches I had never considered before (conventions and trade shows).
It was a great lesson; one that all of us could use to our benefit immediately!
Les O’Dell is a freelance writer living in Carbondale, Ill. His work can be seen in a number of newspapers, magazines, publications and websites. He is co-author of the popular “He Said, She Said” newspaper column. He can be found on the web at www.lesodell.net. Les is not affiliated or endorsed by LPL Financial.