Turning 35 hit me like a ton of bricks – much harder than turning 30. And while I admit that I am not pushing up daisies, I’m am however someone the check out cashiers now call “mam”, even when I am without children in toe.

Needless to say, I was only partially up for celebrating my birthday. Becuase after all, while I don’t fully expect the world to stop turning when it’s my birthday, I do secretly hope that one day it ought.

Turns out, this year’s celebration was much overdue and so very welcome. Instead of going out and spending money on gifts, dinners and the like, I spent the part of the day that I had free with renegotiating my personal vendor relationships. Yes. Seriously. And it was FANTASTIC!

I went from early morning contemplating the meaning of life and how truly short and cruel it is, to over the moon giddy with excitement because I made $6,000 for my birthday and you can too!

Do you want to make $6,000 in one day too?

Here are 3 easy steps to help you do just that! 

1. Know your vendors AND their competition

I was befuddled when I was reviewing our family budget to our February actuals. $292.00 for the gas bill! What the heck where we doing, running a sauna? How could our gas bill be so high when our three-month average was less than half that expense? So I called my gas co. and spoke with a very patient, very professional associate who spent the next hour with me explaining that I had not renewed our contract since 2014 and that I had been paying $1.01 per therm on gas every month since when the fixed rate was $0.49 per therm.

Naturally, when offered to sign into another contract we were chomping at the bit. However, I hesitated and decided to poke around at the competitor’s pricing. The lowest I could find was another provider who was offering a $100 sign on bonus credit and $0.37 per therm. After several attempts to negotiate this price with the associate with whom I was speaking, we secured a rate with our current vendor that wasn’t even being offered.

This equated to $567 in savings over the next 12 months.

Such huge savings, I was beside myself ready to call every personal vendor we have as well as their top two competitors. A few more phone calls to the short list of personal vendors and we had added another $276 in savings from Comcast – with higher internet speed!

If you are willing to spend a few hours a year to renew your understanding of your personal contracts and pricing, and then shop around for the best deal, there are huge potential savings in it for you. And if you don’t do this annually, your vendors are not going to make you. Like ours, they will be willing to charge you $1.01 per therm rather than $0.37 per therm if you are willing to pay it. Don’t be afraid to push back on the negotiation either. It took three attempts and requests to speak with a manager over the course of an hour to secure the deal. Once I explained to them we have impeccable payment history, the deal was done in a matter of minutes. No one wants to lose a good customer, but again, if you will pay more, they will take it.

2. Claim your rewards and benefits

Similar to the above, you have to know what offers are out there. Many companies have great benefits that they do in fact share with their employees but aren’t going to nag their employees until everyone is signed up. Such instance came about when I finally decided to follow up on a national discount Michelin Tires has with AT&T for their employees.

Simply signing up for their preferred program via an easy link that was buried in my 100 emails a day was another diamond of savings in the rough.

This equated to another $532 in savings when combined with our company phone reimbursement plan as well.

I continued to recall many other benefits my company offers to its employees. Gym membership reimbursements, weight watchers membership, and the likes. Of the ones I was able to qualify for:

Another $500 in the bag this year. Combined with the upcoming benefits for prenatal supplies + $350 for a Modela pump that I could get a prescription for instead of purchasing out of pocket.

I’ll take Family Savings for $850 Alex!

And that’s before calculating savings from taxes paid for contributing to my 401K, the Company 5% match and FSA pre-tax contributions.

Don’t ignore those pesky emails from HR. A lot of times they are packed with cost savings benefits that you are overlooking. Trust me, I send out those HR emails and even I was overlooking them!

3. Cut waste and use what you already have

A few hours into my birthday celebration and I had already made $1,800 by way of savings over the next 12 months. My husband and I were on a tag team roll of cutting costs and putting money back into our budget.  But here’s where it got more interesting.

We began to mull over our grocery and food bill. On average we were spending $300+ a month on going out to eat. Many times in a rush, unenjoyed and with cranky children in toe. Out of the $300 to $450 spent on fast food and restaurants, there was maybe a good $100 spent on actual enjoyable entertaining. So we decided to cut the waste.

$300 over 12 months gave us our biggest savings yet. $3,600 back into our pockets.

And there were other areas too, unused car wash subscription that we moved to the family car instead added another $250 to the growing jackpot of savings!

If money is out there to be someone’s it might as well be mine. All $6K of it!

In what ways can you cut waste, renegotiate plans and take stock of company benefits!? A few hours a year may leave you with $6,000 in your pocket.