Does it seem to you that people are more and more in a hurry to get things done? When we need to make a purchase, particularly a large one, we find what we need and just pay the price without doing any comparisons or shopping around. Maybe we want a new computer, go to the closest big box store, find the one on the shelf that has the best reviews, purchase it and bring home a new little box of happiness. Or perhaps we need some maintenance done on our car, bring it to our local mechanic and say “please fix it and let me know how much I owe you”.

The funny thing is that we have more resources today to compare prices and get quotes that we ever have before. In fact, you can compare the same product or service from hundreds of businesses from that little gadget in your pocket and we all have grown to depend on. (Yes, I use my smartphone a lot too, especially to read blogs. In fact, some of you are probably reading these words from your phone right now).

Many times, getting a second opinion on a service you need or comparing prices on a product you are looking to purchase can save you big. A while back, my wife and I swapped cars for the day because I needed to haul some stuff and she has the larger vehicle. She took my car to work and everything was great. At least at first. Later in the afternoon, I get a call from my wife. “Don’t worry, everything is ok and no one is hurt, but I am so very, very, very sorry.”

Turns out, on her way home, another car started to drive into her lane and forced her to the shoulder. She was in a construction area and as she was getting out of the way to prevent from being side-swiped by another car, the passenger side of the car side swiped a construction cone. And just in the blink of an eye, there went the side-view mirror.

Of course my only concern was that she was ok. After she assured me that she was fine, my racing heart started to slow back down. She got home and I checked out the car. It was not too bad, certainly could be worse. We got a quote from the dealership to replace and install a new mirror. A whopping $500! This was certainly not expected, but then again, this is what an emergency fund is for, right?

Before spending that much money to get it fixed, we wanted to make sure we were getting the best deal, so we decided to get a second opinion. The next day I took the car into another repair shop to get an estimate. After a few minutes of inspecting the dangling mirror, the shop employee came to me and said “ok, here’s what we got”. I started to cringe, bracing myself for the number that was about to be shouted out. “We would need to order the part and get it painted for you to match the color of your car.”

In my head I started checking things off…parts, paint, shipping, labor. “We can get this done for $250” he finally said. $250! That was great news! I certainly did not expect to get 50% off, especially when they included the color matching and labor. Compared to $500, this was terrific. I had him order the part and within a few days I had a brand new mirror on my car. After it was all said and done, you could not even tell that anything had happened.

On the way back home from the repair shop, I remember thinking to myself “I am so very glad I decided to shop around”. Yes, I still had to spend money that I was not planning on, but anytime you can save money, it is certainly a bonus. That day I learned a lesson that I will never forget. Don’t always jump at the first thing you see. When you have the opportunity, shop around and find the best deals you can. Pay attention to the costs of things and the areas that you can save. You never know, it may cut your work to build back up your emergency fund in half.

Do you typically shop around when it comes to larger purchases? Have you had an unexpected purchase that was needed that ended up costing less than you originally thought? Please let me know in the comments below. I would love you hear about the ways you were able to save.

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