News flash! Many wealthy people are cheap. It is how they stay wealthy. If you have ever volunteered to do fundraising, you will have come across people who enjoyed the cultivation process so much, they seemed reluctant to make that big contribution commitment. Why? Because they the love to be wined and dined to get the big donation! Wealthy people love to save money. Helping them make even small savings should make you very popular.
Talking about saving money is a private conversation. When wealthy people stand around chatting with their peers, few if any people will admit to being cheap. Your conversations starting with “I found a great deal…” are one-on-one or over the phone.
It’s time for a quick story: We have sailed on a small portion of the Cunard World Cruise aboard the Queen Victoria three times in the past. I say short because the circumnavigation might take 98 nights, but we are only onboard for nine nights during the Atlantic crossing. We have British friends, twins in their 70s, who do the world cruise every year. (FYI: The slang expression among these cruisers is “you are doing the world.”) We were onshore in a restaurant and the server asked, “Do you have any allergies?” One of them answered, “Parting with cash.” Enough said.
Let us look at 15 suggestions you can give your clients to help them save money:
- Ask for the senior discount. It might exist, but they do not always tell you about it. We know another set of twins. They are about the same age as our British friends, but these are Americans. When one walks up to the deli counter in the supermarket, they will ask if there is a senior discount. When I take my car into the dealership for service, I ask if there is a senior discount. The young fellow has said, “Oh! I forgot about that!” He then reruns the parts-plus-labor bill for a lower amount.
- Ask for the high mileage discount. We are still at my car dealership. Once your initial warranty runs out, the dealership still wants you coming back for scheduled maintenance. Some offer a loyalty program similar to airlines is the high mileage discount. If you have owned your car for a while, ask your dealership of they have a loyalty program the next time you take your car in. They might have a military service discount, too.
- Be proactive about your wireless expenses. Wireless providers can be aggressive in winning over new customers. That’s a good thing. But they can be passive with long-term customers who don’t make much noise. That’s a bad thing. When your provider tells you rates are going up, call their competitors and get current quotes. Next, call up your provider and say you are thinking of leaving. (My understanding is our cable company then routes the call to is account-retention department.) See if your provider will match the rate or back off on some of their increases. If not, be prepared to leave.
- Shop your insurance providers. Homeowners insurance, car insurance and personal liability insurance are some of those expenses you don’t think about often, but they creep up over time. A good insurance agent will shop them for you. The best strategy is to get a good insurance agent who is proactive. Ours does it once a year. Insurance coverage is complicated, yet a good agent can recommend moving from one provider to another if it will save you money. They can also advise you not to move for good reasons too.
- Review your restaurant bill before leaving the table. Technology is not perfect. Sometimes discounts do not go through properly or the martini you ordered with the well gin was billed as Tanqueray at a higher price. Even if you are with several other wealthy people, this action shows you pay attention to detail. If they are corporate executives or business owners, they have an entire department reviewing invoices for errors before they cut a check in payment.
- Sailing soon savings on cruise ships. Cruise lines do not make any money on empty cabins once the ship leaves the dock. Websites like vacationstogo.com send emails for “sailing soon savings.” A couple of recent examples include an eight-night cruise from New York City to the Caribbean on MSC Cruises for a mid-December departure starting at $299 per person for an inside cabin. A balcony cabin runs $469. That is for the entire cruise, not per day! This means your client living close to New York City can get away for as little as $37-plus per day including lodging and meals.
- Hold onto old technology. You have seen episodes of “NCIS” where Gibbs, the lead character, takes out his flip phone. He does not have a smartphone. It works and he is happy with it. You do not need to upgrade to the latest and greatest if you are happy with what you own.
- Take leftovers home. I cannot think of a restaurant at any price point that cannot meet the request, “Can I have doggie bag?” Many servers will prompt you by asking, “Can I wrap that up for you?” As people get older, they often develop “tiny tummies.” Even wealthy people bring home the uneaten half of their entrée.
- Splitting entrees when dining out. This builds on the “tiny tummy” phenomenon. We know a wealthy couple that dines out in fabulous restaurants. We joined them and were startled by the prices even in neighborhood restaurants in Manhattan! Then we realized how they keep their spending under control. Instead of ordering an entrée each and taking half home, they order one main course and split it.
- Supermarkets run weekly sales. Older clients will remember the colorful flyers arriving by mail midweek announcing the next week’s sales at each supermarket. This still happens, although the ads can be accessed online too. This also prompts you to shop by the season. Asparagus is in season around April and May. Prices are generally lower then and produce is fresher because it has traveled a shorter distance.
- Ask for rainchecks. Supermarkets sometimes run out of items on sale. Generally speaking, you can walk up to the customer service desk and ask for a raincheck. This allows you to buy the same item at the same price within a specified time period. It might be a week. Remember this the next time Perrier has a really good sale price but the shelf is empty.
- Buy heating oil like you buy gas for your car. When you need to fill up your car, you pull into a gas station. When you buy heating oil for your home, you often have a contract with a heating oil company that drives up in a big truck and tops off your tank on a regular schedule. The rate you pay is usually set when you sign the annual contract. Although experiences will vary, we found the contract price was often quite a bit higher than that day’s price from a heating oil company that delivers on demand. You don’t buy four months’ worth of gasoline for your car up front. You can buy heating oil as you need it too. This isn’t a good strategy if prices are skyrocketing, but it has worked for us. You need to give the delivery company a few days advance notice. FYI: Heating oil prices are in the same general range as diesel fuel, but lower because heating oil has less tax.
- Groceries are food. Food is a commodity. Many people shop at upscale food stores. They might not be able to afford a Ferrari or a house in a gated community, but they manage to buy their groceries at the chains catering to the “carriage trade.” It conveys bragging rights. It can be much more expensive than discount chains that feature “store brand” products. The German supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl are two good examples. In my opinion, eggs are eggs, regardless of where you buy them. Ditto chicken, beef, lamb and pork. Other companies make cereal that looks identical to Cheerios. You can save a significant amount over time by being choosy where you shop.
- Using grocery coupons is fine. Let us think back to the purchasing department at a business. They not only look for the lowest price providers, but they take advantage of every discount. Coupon shopping is the consumer equivalent. We know a wealthy couple who stood in line with $100 worth of groceries. When they went through the checkout and discovered they actually had two coupons, each offering $10 off a $50 purchase, they took everything back and divided everything into two purchases, to maximize their savings. Few wealthy people would ignore the opportunity to save 20%.
- Airline miles are an alternative currency. Hotel points fit into the same category. Your client can stretch their vacation budget to allow more holidays if they make strategic use of their accumulated points. You can easily find articles detailing how much an airline’s points are worth in real money. There are times when the dollar price is better and other times when paying in points saves you money.
Some people think watching your spending and looking for bargains isn’t something wealthy people do, but many wealthy people are quite good at it. That’s one of the ways they stay wealthy.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor,” is available on Amazon.