Speak Up To Get What You Want

Do you ever notice that some people seem to have no trouble getting what they want?  What is it about them?  Maybe they’re more confident.  Or smarter.  Or lucky.  Who knows?  While some of those things may be true, it might be simpler than that.  It could be that they spoke up.  Could it be that simple?  Would it work to speak up to get what you want?  It definitely can make a difference.

The Job I Didn’t Get

I got this lesson pretty early in my career.  In my first job out of college, I was on a technical help desk.  There were quite a few younger people.  It was a great place to get your foot in the door.

I did well.  Very well.  Not to toot my own horn, but I quickly became one of the model help desk agents. Other people sought me out for questions.  They’d ask technical questions or how to deal with customers.  It was a great feeling, especially for my first real job.

A few months in, an announcement came out that one of my colleagues had been made a team lead.  He was also in the group of people that were doing really well.  He definitely deserved it.  Still, I was a bit bummed.  After all, how did he get this advancement?

Well, it turns out, he spoke up!

After a few days of being a bit down, I went to the group manager.  I explained that while I was happy for my colleague, I was disappointed that I hadn’t been considered.

The manager looked at me and said that he didn’t know I was interested, because I’d never told him as much.

Right then and there, I told him that I was interested.  And you know what?  When the next team lead opportunity came up, guess who was given the opportunity?

That’s right, yours truly.

I learned the lesson that you have to ask for what you want.  You can’t just take for granted that someone knows what you want.

How else can this apply?  Let’s look at a few recent examples.

Missing Coupons

We do a lot of our grocery shopping at Meijer.  They have a rewards program where you clip coupons electronically,

image from Morguefile courtesy of WalterWhite

and then redeem them by entering your phone number at the register.  Every so often they give you personalized coupons, based on your shopping history.  These ‘just for you’ coupons are usually pretty good, since they’re based on items you frequently buy.

My wife got an e-mail with a few coupons, some of which of course were great for us.  But, when she logged in to her account, they weren’t there.  We waited a couple of days, but they never arrived.

Now, in cases like this, you can often forget about them, or just let it go.  That’s the easy thing to do.  But I wasn’t going to do that.  Nope, I decided to speak up.

I sent them an e-mail and explained the situation.  They wrote back and said that they were aware of a glitch in their most recent batch of e-mails, and said that in order to make it up, they’d added a flat $8 coupon to come off our next shopping trip.

This was awesome.  Looking at the coupons we got, we probably wouldn’t have used enough to get $8 in savings.  Plus, we can now save the money without having to buy the associated item.  We have more freedom and more money.  And, the only ones that got anything are the ones that decided to speak up.

That Time I Asked For A Raise

A few years ago, I’d had enough.  Our company made it through the recession without a lot of layoffs, but the tradeoff is that we went for quite a stretch without getting a raise.  I accepted this for awhile, but after a certain point, enough was enough.

I waited until I was in the middle of a key project, and then asked for a raise.  Without hesitation, they granted me the raise and gave me what I asked for.   Now, I know that a few others spoke up and also got a raise, but those who didn’t never got one.  At least not until the next wave of raises came out, but I got that too.

All because I wasn’t afraid to speak up.

Be Careful

You have to know when to draw the line.  You don’t want to speak up when the occasion isn’t appropriate.  For example, I knew that I could speak up about wanting the job because I was a solid performer.  I knew I could ask for the raise because I had gotten good reviews.  I also knew that the company was doing better and could afford the raise.  Faced with a situation when a job wasn’t going well, it’s best to stay quiet.

You have to take such things into consideration, or you’ll end up not getting what you want.  Plus, you could get the reputation of being outspoken, which might not be a good thing.  Still, if you learn to read the signs and the timing is right, speak up.  You’d be surprised at how often you’ll get what you want.

Readers, when have you spoken up and had something go your way?  Have you ever misread such a situation?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Terrible Costco Coupons Equals No Costco Trips This Month

December, it seems, is the holy grail of food months. Buying food, groceries, etc.  What better month to count on than December, right? So, if that’s the case, it’s really amazing that Costco is trying to shoot themselves in the foot with a terrible coupon insert.  The Costco Coupons book that we eagerly look forward to was a total dud..

As a result, we haven’t gone to Costco. Those two things go hand in hand, as it turns out.

Our Costco Coupons Habits

We have been Costco members since before we got married.  That means it’s been over ten years now.  Wow, does time ever fly!

During that time, Costco has always sent out a monthly coupon book.  For three weeks out of every month, members can enjoy savings on a handful of items. It’s always been a good mix of general merchandise, electronics, and food.  Until this month.  This month, Costco pretty much eliminated the food category.

We have about 12-15 regular items that we’ll buy with the coupons when they go on sale.  Actually, it’s probably a few more than that, because there are usually some that only go on sale around the holidays.  We look forward to those.

Except none of them were in the book this year.  Not a single one!

In fact they only had three food coupons in total.

Comparison Shopping

We are lucky to be in an area where we have both Costco and Sam’s Club in pretty equal fashion.  Where there’s one, mb-money201308chances are there’s the other within a mile.

We’ve always been loyal to Costco, but we heard a while back that Sam’s Club started offering coupons to members.  This piqued our interest.  We also saw that Sam’s had some pretty good sign up deals from time to time.  There were deals where you could buy a discounted membership (for the first year), plus receive additional free items and coupons.

These deals seem to happen a few times a year, and it honestly might be time to consider if Costco does not return to offering desirable coupons on everyday items.

Is Costco Going Too High End?

One of the things that I’ve noticed, and this latest coupon fiasco seems to affirm, is that they’re going after higher end consumers.  I’ve had my suspicions even on the food side, as they’ve gone increasingly to higher priced organic options.   I’m not sure that they think they make enough money from people who go in and buy coffee, spaghetti sauce, and the like.

Their latest coupon book, which eschews all of those things, instead has TVs, computers, and other gadgets.  It’s all high priced.  Maybe they’re only interested in selling those items.

If so, fine, but we’ll be out.  It’s not that we’re claiming poverty.  It’s that we buy everyday items because of the value and the occasional big ticket items.  It seems like they want their shoppers to do the reverse.

Winter Will Tell The Tale

We have the Costco Visa card and we have a good chunk of rewards money lined up.  The way that their rewards works is that you get a payout once per year, and it happens to be in February.  If you cancel your membership (along which cancels your card) anytime in between, you forfeit your earnings.

That’s not going to happen.

However, if we get our payout in February, and things have not improved on the coupon side of things, that might be time to make a clean break.

As it so happens, Sam’s Club also has a rewards credit card that offers similar category discounts.  Line that up with a cheaper membership and better coupons, and it might not be long before we’re noting ourselves as former Costco members.

I hope that doesn’t happen, but the clock is ticking.

Readers, what do you think of Costco?  Have you noticed a gradual shift away from lower priced items in their targeted strategy?  How does that fit in with you?  Any Sam’s Club members out there that can give some insight on how things are on the other side of the fence?  Please let me know in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Save More Shopping Online With Groupon Coupons

I’ve been a big fan of Groupon for a number of years.  We have saved on a lot of different items, meals, and events over the years.  Now, Groupon is offering a whole new way of saving money, with Groupon Coupons.

Unlike the traditional method of using Groupon, you don’t have to purchase anything.  That’s right, it’s completely free.  What Groupon Copuons offers you is a database of over 55,000 coupons across 8,000 online stores.  You can search for what you’re looking for, whether it be for a particular store or by a particular item that you’re looking for, and you’ll be presented with matches along with the options to save money with the online stores.
You may be thinking that there are already services out there like this, but I assure you, Groupon has used their strong name and reputation to assemble a very strong database of participating merchants across a wide variety of retail categories.  You’ll find popular stores like Home Depot and Walgreens, just as an example.  These are two stores that I visit frequently, and now I have the option to shop from my home and save money along the way.  It doesn’t get much better than that!
Stores are going to love this because they get to partner with one of the strongest names in the world that relates to saving money, and people will love this because it will allow them new ways to shop at their favorite stores or give them exposure to all kinds of new stores, all while saving money!
Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

At What Point Does Declining Value Become A Concern?

I’ve had a few recent situations where I was presented with declining value in varying circumstances.  In each of the circumstances, which I’ve briefly outlined below, I pointed out the declining value through social media circles, and I was surprised to see the response by other followers.  Or, more exactly, the lack of response.

Halloween Fun At The Zoo

The Detroit Zoo holds an annual event called the Zoo Boo.  It actually stretches across most of October, and on Friday and Saturday nights, families can come and walk through a portion of the zoo where there is a corn maze, seasonal themed displays, an activities center, and some handouts of candy and other treats.  It’s pretty popular and we have gone for the last three years.  So, we were thinking about going again this year, when my wife pointed out two changes:

  • Admission for the event went from $7 to $8
  • They were now charging parking.  Typically, all parking for the Zoo Boo was free for both members and non-members.  Parking for regular zoo visit is free for members who purchase an annual pass.

mb-201310moneyFor a family of four, this meant that the cost (assuming they all drove together in one car) would go from $28 to $37, over a 30% increase.  I felt this was unwarranted.  I was kind of annoyed by the fact that they were charging for parking (especially members, which we have been for many years).  I questioned why the cost needed to go up, especially considering that most of the handouts were provided by the sponsors, so it’s not like they had to pay for the candy and such that they give out.  I even looked closer to see if maybe they were adding new events, displays or access, but the description of the event was the same as in years past.

Nobody from the zoo responded, and not a single of the 173,000+ followers liked my post or expressed similar concerns.

Restaurant Rewards

There’s a local chain of Italian restaurants (Andiamo) that has been a favorite of ours for years.  We had our rehearsal dinner at one location, we threw a surprise 25th anniversary party for my parents there, we’ve dined there multiple times for various events such as birthdays, New Years, and our anniversary.  So, a few years back, it was a no-brainer to join their rewards program.  We paid a one-time enrollment fee and for that, we got a free dinner during the month of my birthday, as well as a program where after every $350 you spent, you got $25 in credits.

They announced that they were changing the program, and promoted it as ‘new and improved’ as you now got rewards after only 250 points.  The reward changed to $10 after you crossed this threshold.  I did the math in my head, and realized that on a reward-per-dollar spent you were getting 44% less bang for your buck.

I wrote on their Facebook wall pointing out that the program was definitely changed, but maybe not necessarily improved.  To their credit, they actually did write a very detailed response acknowledging that they made other changes which would offset the reduction in other ways (a second meal sometime during the year), and also basically acknoweldged that the program needed to be tweaked to allow them to balance the rewards with profitability.  I was actually pretty impressed and gave them a lot of credit.  In my mind, I understood the changes, and didn’t have a complaint about the changes themselves (especially given that the cost of joining the program were a one-time only thing), but it was just that they presented it as ‘improved’.

Still, after I posted on their wall, there were over a dozen people that liked their announcement, but only one that liked my response pointing out the 44% reduction.  that one person…my wife.

The Sliding Scale of Value

These incidents both happened within a couple of days of each other, so the lack of attention by others was amplified since they both happened.  And, I spent a couple of weeks thinking about why the issues I raised really weren’t of concern.

I think one of the reasons would be that there’s a sliding scale of value, and that there are thresholds along the way, and only after you cross those thresholds do you get concerned.

Some examples would be:

  • Gas – We don’t generally get alarmed every time the price goes up, but over the past few years, anytime prices in most areas get anywhere near $4, the chatter instantly heats up.
  • Food packaging – It’s long been a pet peeve when food packaging changes (new look, same great product!) only to find out that the new package contains less of the product than the old one did, but the price stays the same.

In these cases, or similar cases (like my examples), there’s probably some wiggle room before a trigger goes off.  I’m sure in the case of food packaging, there are lots of studies done beforehand to find just how much they can get away with taking away before consumers howl.

Removal of Excess Value

After thinking about the zoo example for so long, I looked at it a different way and thought that maybe people felt that $37 for a family of four was still a value.  Maybe, for many, the previous cost of $28 was considered a great deal.  Meaning, that there’s wiggle room in what they can get away with charging before they put attendance at risk.

Acceptable Loss

Sticking with the zoo, what if the zoo full well knew that the price increases were going to turn people away, but were completely fine with that?  This could make sense if the loss of customers was made up by the price increase.  What if 10% of families decided to skip the event this year.  The other 90% are still going to pay the extra 30%, meaning that they’d still come up with a revenue increase of roughly 17% (90% of last years attendees x 130% of last years pricing).

This could go south if too many people decided to skip the event, but again, I’m thinking there are probably studies and such done in circumstances involving national brands and the like.

Long and short

I spent the first week or so after these two things completely bewildered about why the concern that I was expressing didn’t even warrant a few likes.  But, after thinking about it, I started to see a little sense in it.  Maybe some of the long ago learned items from my marketing classes in grad school started to bubble to the surface.

Readers, have you ever raised a concern about pricing or something else and found apathy, especially in the day of social networking?  What are some of your thresholds or hot buttons that get you going when it comes to pricing and marketing?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.