Are you using all the discounts you are eligible for?
My first job out of college, I worked for an awesome (based on regular benefits like insurance) company. One Saturday while I was waiting for some work to get done, I decided to peruse the company manual (hey, the internet was out that day!). I found out that their awesomeness went beyond the regular benefits. They had onsite day care, one month free food delivery for new parents, massage… a full laundry list of benefits I never knew they had. I couldn’t use any of them as I was a contractor but when this came up in a conversation, my boss who was a full time employee at that company had no clue about most of these benefits. Workplace perks are part of the compensation, we are leaving money on the table if we don’t use them.
My next company was much smaller so they didn’t have perks to match the first company but they still provided membership to a savings portal that provided all sorts of discounts ranging from cheap movie tickets to bulk pricing on cruises.
Most people don’t bother to educate themselves on all the rewards or perks that are available for them. Just by being aware of all the perks and remembering to use them when needed can save thousands of dollars every year. For example, some of the ways I saved last year –
- Discount on dental insurance via Freelancer’s Union
- Discount on LASIK from my health insurance company
- Got part of my gym membership fee reimbursed
- Got 6 private sessions, 2 pilates session and first month free all for using a particular American express card.
- Discounts on rental cars, hotels and flight tickets
How to find these perks or discounts?
You have to catalog all your clubs, memberships and affiliations. Find the services or membership discount pages in each of these member sites, browse through them and bookmark discounts for things that you buy or do.
1. Travel clubs
AAA offers a wide variety of discounts – hotels, rental cars, dining, electronics and apparel.
2. Alumni/Honor society
Alumni/Honor societies can offer excellent group rates on insurance. My alma mater offers discounts on professional magazines, conferences, local restaurants, theme park & movie tickets, cellphone service and rental cars.
3. Warehouse clubs
Other than having excellent pricing on their products, Costco also offers free tire rotation, auto buying service (I bought my car using this service for way below the sticker price), insurance, check printing and discounts on a variety of travel services.
My current auto insurance company doesn’t offer any retail discounts, but I used to be a member of Geico. They have a good sized savings portal.
My health insurance company provides discounts several wellness services like weight management programs and discounts on fitness equipments.
I should thank Freelancers Union for my low dental insurance rates. They also offer discounts on cell phone service, travel and different community work space locations.
6. Workplace perks
It is well worth your time to find out all the perks and discounts you are getting just for being employed. Most employees ignore this part of the benefit leave plenty of money on the table. Check your intranet or ask your HR personnel for a list of benefits and any discounts.
7. Credit cards
I saved my best source of perks for the last. I have a comprehensive post on the perks offered by credit cards. They offer more than retail/dining discounts. Most credit cards offer extended warranty, price protection, roadside assistance, rental car insurance and much much more.
Here are some quick links to standard credit card benefits –
- Visa discounts
- Mastercard discounts
- American Express discounts (login to see the discounts/offers)
- Discover Card member benefits
Don’t forget to check your card specific discounts (for example, some AmEx cards have great customized perks on top of the standard American Express perks).
How do I remember to use these discounts?
I used to forget about the discounts just when I made a purchase and kick myself later. Then after a few such frustrating experiences, I sat down, went through all my potential discount sites and bookmarked worthy discounts based on the category.
So now when I want to make a specific purchase, like say book a rental car, I right click the rental car folder, open all tabs, check rates with each of these discounts and take the best deal.
Think of all the groups you are a part of and check each of them at least once to understand what offers are available to you. You shouldn’t be making any major purchases without checking these sites.