SLADE COLUMN: Make that extra call to save money
News reporters know that making extra phone calls, continuing to gather information beyond what's needed, can result in richer information and better outcomes.
The same is true when it comes to saving money and finding good deals.
It's all part of the big trade-off between time and money. More research and shopping around almost always lead to savings, but at a cost of time.
Take something as simple as getting a flu shot.
I know I could just run over to a local pharmacy and get a flu shot. But I also know that grocery stores and big-box retailers have pharmacies, and I've seen stores courting flu-shot customers with offers such as cash back or discount coupons.
So, instead of running over to the pharmacy, I made a few calls.
What I learned was that instead of spending $30 or more at a pharmacy, I could spend as little as $15 at a grocery store (that's $19.95 for the intradermal flu shot at Harris Teeter, minus a $5 store credit). Publix stores were recently offering a free turkey for customers who got a flu shot, but that promotion has ended.
By making a few phone calls, I saved $15 — or, at least I will soon. Most places I checked ran out of flu shots during the first week of December.
Is saving $15 worth the time it takes to make some phone calls? That's up to you.
How about $28? Would that be worth spending 10 minutes online?
That's how much I saved by changing a car-rental reservation on a recent trip to Florida. I already had shopped around and thought I had found the best deal, paying $142 for a midsize car rental for three days in Fort Lauderdale, including all taxes and fees.
But then Southwest Airlines sent me an email promising big discounts if I booked my rental through them, to go along with my plane tickets. I already had booked my car rental through Southwest, so I nearly ignored their offer, but I checked and it turned out the discount they promoted in the email knocked the price of the rental down to $114.
I'm happy to spend the extra time to save a bit of money, but if $15 or $28 doesn't sound worthwhile, how about $240?
That's how much I saved for a group of friends and myself by finding a better hotel deal, and then topping that good deal with a great one.
Here's how that happened.
Last month we were preparing to go on an annual weekend getaway, and planned to share a big oceanfront condo at the same place we stayed the previous year.
Price shopping for accommodations large enough for seven or eight people is more complicated than just checking travel websites, but after checking around online, I was able to find a larger and more conveniently located condo with an even better view for about $80 less.
That's pretty good, but here's where making that extra call came into play.
Saving $80 while getting a more spacious place to stay seemed like a great deal. But after finding that deal online, I called the resort where the condo was located, and found that they had identical units available for that off-season weekend, and quoted me a price that was far lower.
How does $280 sound for two nights in adjoining oceanfront condos with seven beds? That's just over half of what we originally expected to pay.
The point is, finding a good deal doesn't mean you've found the best deal. Greater savings may be just a phone call or an Internet search away.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.