HOW would you like to earn $5,400 an hour tax-free, even if for only a few minutes?
I can't guarantee that pay rate every time. But the experience I just had illustrates an approach that can pay off over and over again.
I subscribe to a number of print publications. When I lecture - and live - abroad I often switch those subscriptions to my overseas address. (Interestingly, most publications continue to charge the domestic rather than the overseas rate.)
One of the publications just notified me my automatic renewal would be coming up shortly, and $120 - the overseas rate - would be charged to my credit card for another one-year subscription.
I phoned the tollfree number and had this conversation with Marissa:
Me: "I'll be back home when the renewal is due, so could I have the domestic rate?"
Marissa: "What rate would you like to renew at?"
Mike (having previously checked the website): "I'd like the special $69.95 rate, but what is your best rate at the moment?"
Marissa: "That would be $29.95 for one year."
Mike: "What's the longest period I could renew for?"
Marissa: "Three years." So I renewed for three years, paying $89.85 instead of $360. My three-minute phone call had saved me $270.15, which works out to $5,403 an hour, tax-free, because you don't pay tax on money you save.
This approach obviously works best when you can spend a short amount of time to save a large amount of money, not the other way around. This typically applies to large dollar purchases like a home or car, or even major appliances and electronic devices.
Never be afraid to bargain, or to ask questions. Be pleased by your initial savings (my $29.95 rate) but always ask if you can get an even better deal (the $29.95 rate for three years). The worst that can happen is a "no."
Practice makes perfect - perfect profits, that is. The more you do this, the easier it becomes and the more money you save.
Mike Grenby is a columnist and independent personal financial advisor; he'll answer questions in this column as space allows but cannot reply personally - email firstname.lastname@example.org.