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Free Ring Circus

First, the free:

Did you know you can get free solar panels?  Looks to be so.  The article here says it’s essentially a matter of asking the manager for their seconds.  If/when we get our own place I think we will be doing that.  G is extremely green-centric in his preferences and if we can 1) generate clean energy and 2) save money doing it, I’m all for it.

We in the US are conditioned to price tags with non-negotiable numbers.  For the average supermarket and department store, you pay what you pay and that’s all there is to it.

If you’ve ever been to Mexico, however – hopefully prior to the outrageous drug wars – negotiation is the rule of thumb for all but the most exclusive shops.  Prices are rarely posted in Mexican border town kiosks and open markets: you ask the proprietor for a price, they give you a number, you roll your eyes and say “No way!” and offer something almost insultingly low, and the game is on.  Generally speaking you’ll find a point somewhere in the middle of what you offer and what the merchant initially tells you is the price.  If you don’t negotiate everybody knows you’re a rube.

The same thing applies in several businesses in the US, which brings us to the “ring” part of the title.  I have a wedding ring!  G did some wheeling and dealing, enough that we were able to find a ring at a pawn shop. ( The pawn shop part was, incidentally, my idea.  We are both avid bargain hunters for everything else.  Why should jewelry be any different?)  I am not a huge fan of diamonds, so we were looking at several rings with colored stones, settling on one with a sweet London topaz.  It took us a while to find one that fit.

When we found the ring we wanted, the posted price was about double what we had to pay.  So we negotiated.  Ultimately we got it for what we could afford.

Never, EVER pay the posted price at a pawn shop.  For anything.  Ever.  If they won’t negotiate, go to another store that will.

G’s been back and forth on email with his sister, telling her about our extreme bargaining techniques.  We’ve probably found more good quality freebies and bargain-basement deals than anybody I know.  By purchasing through a wholesaler we got a new king size pillowtop mattress set for $200 delivered.  Yes – NEW.  Granted, that was all about the right connections and we probably wouldn’t be able to get the same deal again, but still!  We watch religiously for bargains and have learned when to jump on a deal and when to pass on junk.  We don’t hit the mark 100% of the time, granted – that car this spring is a perfect example of what NOT to buy – but overall we do pretty well.

I’ve been a bargain hunter from way back – my parents taught me early that if I couldn’t get it for myself it wouldn’t happen, and that I could get a better deal used than I could ever afford new.  I lived out of thrift stores and yard sales for the majority of my life.  When G met me, he had a background running an auction house, so didn’t blink at the prospect of used items.  When I introduced him to my version of used and he saw how much less we could pay through other outlets, it got him started.  He’s the one who’s now probably the better bargain hunter between us, though occasionally I still score a pretty amazing financial coup.  Free digital TV?  That would be me.  I’m glad G appreciates a deal!

I’m also glad he’s learned when not to be cheap.  He hasn’t touched the AC since I threatened to move out and leave him and Ye Puppy of Doggy to fend for themselves.  I thought I’d never get through to him!

Other examples of when not to cheap out: food.  There is nothing wrong with a bargain on some foods, but when buying cheap means nobody eats it, it’s not really cheap.  Ditto buying junk food vs. paying a little more for something with nutritional value.   I do the occasional chocolate bar and I bought a package of Pecan Sandies today.  Generally speaking, though, I’ve been trying to keep us on a healthier meal plan these days.  In theory if I don’t keep junk food at the house I won’t go on a binge.  Not sure how well it’s working – G complained today that his pants are too tight (at a 34″ waist – don’t you HATE men’s metabolism??) and that he needs to lose weight.  I virtually never fry food, control salt, carbs and fat content, but neither of us is in danger of being mistaken for a supermodel any time soon.  I’m even eating salads for lunch at work most days, so being genuinely good.  Grrr…

The free solar panels are not happening for a while yet since obviously we don’t own the apartment.  But G and I also agreed that after the egregious rent increase when we renewed our lease here, we’re far better off buying our own place next year, even if it’s a mobile home.  We will need to stash some cash away for a down payment and that’s gonna hurt a little.  So be it.  We’ll make it happen, one way or another.

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