Meet with us tomorrow! Also: The 30% phone call.

thWhat a weird non-vacation it’s been so far. After arriving midday Monday I was pretty hazy. Far too much of Tuesday and Wednesday were spent doing interviews and writing up a last-minute freelance job that I couldn’t turn down. (Hint: It’s not only quite lucrative, it’s also leading to more paying gigs.)

Edits were waiting when I got up this morning, but the S.O.B. is finally done! At least until the copy desk comes a-knockin’. And we’re on our way to eat ribs at Bobby Q’s, so life is looking better all the time.

But that’s not what I came here to talk about.


From 1 to 4 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, Jan. 23), my daughter and I are hosting a reader/blogger meetup here in Phoenix. If you read either my website or hers (I Pick Up Pennies), or if you’re a writer – or if both things are true – we hope you’ll join us at the Wendy’s restaurant at 2640 W. Thunderbird in Phoenix (next to the Home Depot).

We’ll talk about whatever you like: personal finance, writing, nerd culture, Kool-Aid pickles. Religion and politics are probably out as topics, but just about anything else goes.

Oh, and we’re giving away four fabulous prizes, including Starbucks gift certificates and a deck of “Tundra” playing cards. Just a little thank-you for taking the time, and the gasoline, to get there.

You’re welcome to join us at any point, or for the whole dang time. I’ll be sitting there with my laptop starting around 1 p.m.; Abby may be there or she may wander in a bit later. And you don’t have to eat fries if you don’t want them. I’m leaning toward a baked potato, myself.


Is that their best price?

Always ask this! It’s time to renew with my web hosting company, HostGator. Trouble is, the invoice showed a noticeable jump in the cost of service. When I signed up three years ago, I got a 20 percent discount that made the tab $181.20 for three years. Pretty reasonable, I thought.

Not so the renewal invoice, which was $358.20. Yikes.

“Costs have gone up everywhere, and that was an introductory teaser rate,” I reasoned. “Maybe $119.40 isn’t too much for a year’s worth of hosting. And the service has been pretty good.”

Then again, people negotiate stuff all the time. Couldn’t hurt to call, right?

Within a few minutes the cost had been lowered by 30 percent. Instead of paying $358.20 I’ll pay $250.74, or $83.58 vs. $119.40 per year. As they say,

If you don’t ask then the answer is always “no.” Hope this emboldens you to examine some of your own fixed expenses.


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  1. I got onto the question everything mode while reading J Money’s blog. He saved a lot of money looking at and in some cases renegotiating his services. Sounds like it was worth it to you to do the same, after all companies DO want our business even if sometimes it may not seem like it in their initial approach.

  2. Tina in NJ

    I will be in Phoenix in spirit only. We are enjoying the first blizzard of the season back east. Hubby intensely dislikes dealing with Verizon, so I call them every couple of years when they try to raise our rates. I always get something comparable to the new customer rate. Retaining an existing customer is much cheaper than getting a brand new one.

    • Donna Freedman

      Retaining an existing customer is much cheaper than getting a brand new one.

      This! Plenty of other options exist, so they probably figured “cheaper to keep her.” In fact, the notes I got from HostGator to let me know the rates had been changed (also got 30% off a year’s worth of Write A Blog People Will Read), it was couched as a “loyalty bonus.”

      Keep your head above the snow. This being Jersey, it’ll probably warm up enough to melt it in a week. Snow never lasted long enough when I was a kid.

  3. Cathy in NJ

    I ask for discounts everywhere home depot, shoe stores, hotels, car rentals, cell service and most times I ask and I receive. Sadly, I called Sirius XM and got nothing (boo hiss). They would give me a lower price for a lower level of service that did not include the news channels. No thank you. I commute about 2 hours a day, good radio makes a difference, so I didn’t cancel.

    But I am not driving today, we have 12 inches of snow at least and up to 20 total inches coming. I would love to be in warm sunny Phoenix. My daughter and I enjoyed meeting you in NJ:)

  4. Our Amazon Prime subscription was getting ready to be renewed on January 17th for $99 at the same time a special was being run for $73 as celebration for the “Mozart in the Jungle” Golden Globe wins.
    I asked an Amazon rep how we could qualify for that special rate and voila– after a manager’s approval and Rowena following up on out account, we were refunded $26. That $26, of course, immediately went into our savings account.
    Thanks to you and your daughter, I remembered to ask for the discount and to put the savings into savings!!

  5. I have a somewhat similar story. Earlier in the month, my husband and I took our daughter to a traveling Braodway show in another state. As it turns out, our seats were uncomfortable office chairs behind the back row of theater seats. I sent an e-mail to the theater explaining that we did not have a clear view and this was not what we paid for. Although I did not expect a response, I was contacted and they refunded us the full amount! Over $400. It pays to make yourself heard in a polite and coherent manner.

  6. priskill

    I vote Wendy’s chili — love that stuff! Sadly, stuck in LA wallowing in Kool aid pickle ignorance.

    So true — I figure if you ask nicely, and can accept a no graciously you have nothing to lose. Have fun in the desert!

  7. priskill

    And it IS the International Year of Pulses, seriously, so chili beans are the perfect choice.

    • Donna Freedman

      Go beans go! Now that I’m back in a cooler clime, I am thinking a pot of pinto beans and ham sounds good — with a black-iron skillet of cornbread on the side, of course.

      And DF’s granddaughter asks for “a red pickle” when she visits. She eat five or six if we’d let her, which we won’t. This summer I’m going to try her on pickled rhubarb.

      • priskill

        Yay for back home, right?! Very curious about the pickles! The rhubarb sounds like a nice substitution. One can never regret beans!

        • Donna Freedman

          I used this recipe from the Mother Earth news site:


          However, I used half balsamic and half white vinegar, since the balsamic is pricey. Still delicious.

          • priskill

            oo, thank you. I think the white vinegar would actually improve it — balsamic is pretty intense so a little goes a long way. thank you for this!

          • Donna Freedman

            I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. The pickles are really good with a mild cheese and some crackers. Unfortunately you can’t process these without the rhubarb turning to mush so they’re refrigerator pickles only, and only when rhubarb is in season.

            I could actually buy rhubarb year-round at the supermarket but the price (at least $3.99 a pound) makes me feel a little faint. Instead, I’ll just eat regular pickles until early summer, when the rhubarb gets big enough to cut.

  8. Would it all be possible for you to “give-away” some warm weather that you have bottled? That would be the best giveaway ever. Please work on this.
    I love that you 30% off. Hmmmm, makes me wonder what I could do to get something cheaper.

    • Donna Freedman

      You’re already pretty good at getting the best prices. And yeah, I wish I could trade some bottled warmth and sun for a little bit of snow. I know that the Lower 48 is ready to deal and that Alaskans miss winter. If this keeps up they’ll have to move the Iditarod start to New York or Philly.

      • Cathy in NJ

        With 20 inches of snow, you could definitely run the Iditarod in my backyard…

        • Has it started to melt yet? My experience with South Jersey winters was always that within a relatively short time the weather would get milder and the snow would disappear.

          • Cathy in Nj

            I still have over 10 inches plus the snow mounds from the shoveling and plows.
            It’s not melting that quickly. For a Jersey girl, 20 inches at one time is a lot of snow.

          • Donna Freedman

            Yep, that’s a lot of snow. The snow berms will probably take the longest to melt because they’re compacted. I hope the weather evens off over there.

  9. Donna,

    That’s a good tip to get reduced hosting prices. My bluehost account is coming due after nearly 3 years. If they try to up the price on me I will follow your lead and give them a call! Thanks for the reminder to stick to my guns and not accept a doubling in fees for the same service :-).

    • Donna Freedman

      I hope the cost doesn’t increase noticeably. Even if it goes up only by 20 percent, why not ask for a deal? You’ve been a loyal customer for three years and as someone else noted, it’s better that they keep you than try to replace you.

      Good luck.


  1. Net Worth & Life Report: January 2016 | A Gai Shan Life - […] I negotiated a huge discount on my hosting fees for 3 years, thanks to Donna for the kick in…

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