Money Saving Tip – Wedding Edition

I got engaged exactly 2 months ago (April 19th) and being the avid planner that I am, I’ve already booked our venue, our engagement and wedding photographers, our DJ/MC, a photo booth and my wedding day hair stylist and make-up artist.

Booking all these vendors has taught me a lot about patience and negotiating.  For those of you reading and not planning a wedding anytime soon, I’m sure these tips can be applied for booking vendors for any occasion (birthdays, anniversaries, corporate events, etc.).

Tip #1 – Get Multiple Estimates

My fiancé and I checked out 7 venues before booking one.  Between the cheapest venue and the most expensive venue was over a $10,000 difference.  Our first choice venue gave us the most expensive estimate, which was way more than what we were willing to pay.  We did a little bit of negotiating within the first few days of meeting their event coordinator and knocked a few hundred dollars off the top right away.  But the biggest win came when we told them what our second choice venue was offering us for food & beverage (after negotiating with them a bit, too).  Once our first choice venue had that information, they gave us a better counter offer the next day, making them the clear winner.  This gave us an instant savings of thousands of dollars.

The same thing happened when we booked all our other vendors.  And even when our first choice vendor couldn’t beat our second choice’s offer, they still ended up offering us a better deal than what they started with.

Keep in mind that if you’re going to use estimates from different vendors as leverage, the vendors have to be comparable.  For instance, our first and second choice venues were in the same city (literally across the street from one another) and offered the same type of food.  You can’t ask for filet mignon at one location and then chicken at another location and expect the first location to match or beat the price.

Tip #2 – Be Patient

Ever hear that quote, “he who speaks first, loses”?  This is definitely true when it comes to negotiating with vendors.  You’re basically playing a game of “who wants this to work out more?”  If you contact them right after they’ve given you an estimate, they’ll think you really want them and be less willing to negotiate.  Even if you’re willing to pay their initial asking price, play it cool if you want to save any money.  Wait for them to reach out to you a second time or tell them you need more time to think about it.  If saving money is not as important as guaranteeing this particular vendor, feel free to book them right away.  FYI, we’ve had multiple vendors tell us that they can only give us a discount if we book them right away or that another party is interested in booking them for our date… whether that’s true or just a sales tactic, by delaying our response for an extra few days, almost every one of our vendors lowered their price a little more before we signed the contract.

Tip #3 – Consider Swap Meets and Cheap Retailers for Your Attire

If you look for dresses specifically under the “bridesmaid” category, they’ll always be more expensive (like at here and here).  But if you look for maxi dresses at your favorite cheap retailer, you could find a bridesmaid dress for a lot less.  Another option is going to a local swap meet.  That’s where I plan on getting my bridesmaid dresses this weekend.  I’m still deciding between 3 options but all of them are under $100 and look just as nice as the dresses that cost $200-$300.

Money Saving Tip: Microwavable Lunches

Work lunches are probably one of the biggest money suckers out there for professional millennials.  It’s definitely my biggest expense after major necessities (rent, gas, phone, etc.).  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for spending money on delicious food and the occasional fine dining experience.  But work lunches aren’t something we really take the time to enjoy, especially if we’re just scarfing it down while multitasking at our desk.  We tend to grab something that’s quick and easy without giving it much thought.  But at $8-$12 a meal, before you know it, you’ve mindlessly spent $50+ a week just on work lunches!

I’ve tried to remedy this in the past by bringing lunch from home but I was never able to keep it up consistently.  I didn’t always have the time to cook the night before and bringing something simple (like a cold sandwich) wasn’t very appealing.  I realized that after a morning of work, I tend to crave something hot and hearty.

The best solution I’ve found so far is microwavable lunches.  In particular, Lean Cuisines.  They’re quick, easy AND affordable.  My local grocery store sells them for $2.50 on sale.  I don’t eat them every day.  But for those days I’m not craving anything in particular (which is most days), they’re perfect.  And since my work has a freezer, I always keep 2 or 3 of them in stock.

If you’ve been spending more than you’d like on work lunches, why not give this method a shot?  I’ve already convinced a few of my colleagues to follow suit ;).

Money Saving Tip: Ask Your Internet Provider for a Promotional Rate

Thanks to my roommate wanting to switch us over to a different internet provider (they were offering lower rates), I was prompted to give our current provider a call.  I wanted to see if they’d be willing to match their competitor’s rate since it’s a bit of a hassle to cancel your current service and set-up a new one.  Time off work and waiting around all morning/afternoon for a technician is usually involved.

The result?  Our current provider gave us a promotional rate they had going on, lowering our bill by over $30 a month!  That’s over $360 a year – $120 each of us could’ve saved each year these the last two years.  I wanted to kick myself for not making this call sooner.  Turns out, internet service providers always have a “promotion” going on, especially for new customers.  When my first promotional rate ended, it never occurred to me to ask them to give me another one, which probably what they were hoping for.  I specifically remember calling them when I saw the bill spike asking them why my bill was suddenly so much higher.  They casually said “your 1 year promotional rate is up so now you’re paying the regular rate.”  Of course they didn’t bother telling me that had other promotions I could use so I just quietly paid the increased amount like I thought I was supposed to.  But now I know better.  And I hope anyone reading this will learn from my naivety.

On the off chance that they don’t give you a promotional rate, the worst thing that could happen is that you do end up switching providers.

One final tip: do you research before you make the call.  Find out what rates their competitors are offering so they know you’re not bluffing!