How To: Get a Deal - Episode 1


I'll elaborate, but the short of it is - it works, baby.

We were all geared up to purchase and install a mountain of insulation into our attic. We had done the research, we knew what we wanted and how we were going to do it. We even had some help lined up for two weekends out to help with the install. Now we just had to buy the stuff.

Based on our research, we chose to go with blown-in cellulose insulation. Environmentally friendly, cost effective, and easy to install. Question was, how much is the blower going to cost to rent? We had budgeted $700 from our house repair fund for this project, but by no means wanted to spend all of it. That weekend, along with the Sunday paper, comes a Menard's sale flier. The type insulation we wanted, Cocoon branded, was marked down to $5.40 per bag + a free blower rental. I called to inquire. Turns out that the blower rental was free for four hours. Standard charges applied after that. Ug. I had no idea how long this was going to take, but 4 hours seemed pretty optimistic for a bunch of amatures.

On top of that, I was estimating needing around 80 bags of this insulation to get the desired R-value. That was going to cost $432. Not bad. What killed the deal was the fact that the nearest Menard's was 20 miles away. How many trips would it take to get all of the insulation and the blower home, plus the trip to return the blower? Ug Ug.

Fire up the computer, its time to comparison shop. We have a Lowe's and a Home Depot in town, one of these guys should be competitive, right? Lowe's had the exact same product online, but for $6.24 per bag. Home Depot's website was, as usual, little to no help as they typically only list items they are willing to ship to you. But they have to stock insulation, right? Time to hit the bricks and get us a DEAL.

Lowes' price of $6.24 was going to equate to just under $500 + whatever the blower rental would be. I strolled down to the building materials and found the insulation. They cellulose, but it was a different brand, yet the same price. Still it was worth asking. I made my way to the service desk. They examined the Menard's flier and paged a stocker to price check the insulation. While we were awaiting his response, she informed me that the two items would have to be exactly the same - make, model, and size - to be eligible for price matching. The stocker's answer came back. No deal. Different brand. Same size, same product, different brand. I pressed that they had this brand on their website, and could they give me the discount if I ordered online. The answer was a flat, "No." Clearly they did not need my business that day.

I made the half-mile trek to Home Depot. Would my luck be different here? Once again, I made a bee-line to the building materials. There, past the roofing materials and behind the lumber was a big beautiful pile of Cocoon brand cellulose insulation. I double check my sales flier. A perfect match! Price: $6.44 - even more than Lowe's! Off to the service desk.

Now, you should know that doing this is not easy for me. I tend to be quiet, more reserved. I'm not a big 'wheeler dealer' and in general, I would just assume not interact with people in general. But I was going to do this. That day, I was going to get a deal. Somebody was going to earn my business.

At the service desk I, once again, made my request. "I was wanting to buy some of this insulation, but I saw that Menard's had it cheaper, can you help me with that?" She examined the flier, and responded, "You mean our 'Meet or Beat' price guarantee?". I had never heard of this program, but responded affirmatively. She went to an office in the back, assumingly checking with her supervisor. She came back.... $4.14 per bag. DEAL!

I was a little bit beside myself as we started placing the order for will call. Then I remembered the other part of the equation - the blower. "One other thing here. This ad says that you get a free blower rental with purchase. Can you match that also?" She paused, her face wrinkled as it seemed that this did not compute. She consulted with the same superviser, who was walking by us, which was met with another puzzled look. Was this somehow unheard of? Sure we'll price match products, but equipment rental prices? Thats crazy! It was a tense few seconds. The lady helping me then replied, "I don't know how we can match this, since it's already free for 24 hours."


I wanted to burst out laughing! Yes! Yes! Where do I sign?! Let me out of here with my receipt before you change your minds! I maintained my composure and let them know that would work just fine. A few minutes more and the deal was done. In the end, it took 3 trips to haul it all home, but only because two loads consisted of tall palates. Those were two s-l-o-w trips that would have been crazy to attempt for 20 miles. The whole project cost us $310 and a full day of labor. While unloading the bundles of insulation, I saw where some of them had price tags on them reading $7.24. Seven dollars and twenty-four cents EACH! This made the next 8 hours of back-breaking labor somehow tollerable. Maybe it was because it looked like insulation shooting out the end of that hose, and not dollar bills.

Why did I do this? Why did I insist on getting a deal? It wasn't a matter of not having the money. As I stated, we were setting $700 aside for this one - more than double what it cost in the end. It's a matter of not wanting to part with all of it just because some retailer decided that this week, this product will cost X amount. Why spend money that you don't have to? Why play their game and pay their price without question? A fool and his money are soon parted, and that is one role I am not willing to fill.

So if you want a deal, if you want to spend a little less on a purchase - ASK! Ask if the pizza place will accept competitor's coupons. Ask if they can do a little better on the price of that TV you've been pining over. What are they going to do? Say, "No"?

***UPDATE*** Welcome FoF readers! Please take a few minutes to check out some of our other frugal living articles. If you are new here, find out more about Not the Jet Set here.


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