The Miser’s 3 Things:

  1. Always ask about discounts, whether it’s a discount card, sign-up bonus, or free shipping over the phone. The worst you could hear is “no.”
  2. Do a little research. Coupons, as I’ve discovered with my car dealership, are often available on a company’s website.
  3. Be patient. If you’re flexible with your dining or entertainment plans, you can often score discounted tickets or meals by going at less-desired times.

Lately, The Miser has been on a mission to avoid paying full price for just about everything.

In other words, living up to his name.

I’ve challenged myself to see what kinds of discounts I can get on both “needs” and “wants” purchases just by asking. The only rule? The discount can’t require much time to get, or it wouldn’t be worthwhile.

In the past six weeks, I’ve gotten discounts on:

Oil Changes: I always check my dealership’s website before going in for service. There are numerous coupons, ranging from $5 off an oil change to 10 percent off major service or new tires (both of which can cost several hundred dollars, if not more).

I don’t even print out the coupon. I just mention it when I drive into the dealership, and they discount the price.

The best deals seem to be the service packages. Last month, I found a “get two oil changes and tire rotations for $80” deal. Considering an oil change and tire rotation is typically $60 at the dealership, I saved $40 over two trips. (Make sure the deal doesn’t expire, since you only rotate your tires every six months.)

A couple years ago, I got four oil changes for $65. Since each oil change is typically $35 that’s more than half off!

-Haircuts: Chain businesses with repeat clientele, including haircut shops, often use loyalty cards (see photo above). Mine gives me a discount every other time I go in, with a half-off haircut awaiting me every eighth visit.

This saved me $9.50 the last time I went in.

Some places will just give you their loyalty card on the way out the door. Other places, you have to ask for one.

I’ve noticed another form of the loyalty discount popping up: the “buy a $25 gift card, get a $5 gift card free.” If this is, say, a car wash that you go to regularly, snap up that free $5!

-Gas: Late last year, I explained how to save consistently at the grocery store. Recently, my store has started offering a fuel discount based on how much you spend on groceries, which is another easy savings strategy.

In this case, it works out nicely to have a big gas tank.

Last month, I drained it down almost to empty and then got $6 off of a fill-up. This month, I’ll get $12 off one of my trips!

If I fill out an online survey about my grocery shopping experience, my fuel discount increases. It takes two minutes, so I do it.

-Restaurants: While on vacation a few weeks ago, I timed a dining experience at a top-rated restaurant to coincide with “Taco Tuesdays” discounts.

I saved about 30 percent. The menu was smaller than normal, but we had no trouble picking out tacos and drinks that we wanted.

Unfortunately, the guacamole was full price. The Miser splurged.

-Shipping: I place periodic over-the-phone orders, and I’ve learned to ask for discounts before hanging up.

At one company from which I place regular orders, the customer service representatives seem to be trained to award free shipping if the customer asks.

It takes five seconds to ask, and the reward is $5 off every time.

Sporting events: The Miser loves sports, but doesn’t love high ticket prices that come with weekend or high-demand games.

Going on weekdays after work takes some planning, but the discounted tickets are often well worth it.

Last week, I scored $31 tickets for $12 apiece. And we ate before we went to the game, meaning we didn’t squander the savings on overpriced concession food.

Try some of these out.

Discounts aren’t available on everything we buy, but it’s been a fun challenge that’s led to some decent savings.