Don’t hand over hard-earned money for that costly expense before ensuring the price is fair.

3 minute read

When facing a large expense such as an expensive medical procedure or pricey car repair, it may seem like you have to simply accept the price you’re quoted. However, when it comes to big expenses that can cost thousands of dollars, it pays to do a bit of research before making a large purchase or setting an appointment for a surgery or procedure with a doctor or hospital.

Fortunately, there are some good resources out there for looking up typical prices, fees and costs of many expensive purchases or medical expenses.

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1. Car repairs

If you have a mechanic that you trust, that’s great. But if you’re quoted for an expensive car repair by a new mechanic – or even the trusty guy who’s been working on your vehicle for years – it’s a good idea to make sure the price for repairs is in line with the average cost for your city or region.

To find the typical cost in your area for a specific repair, look up parts and labor costs on sites such as RepairPal or Kelley Blue Book. Ask your mechanic for prices on individual parts and look the parts up on auto parts store websites to ensure you’re not being overcharged.

Find out: 9 Ways to Save Money on Car Repairs

2. New or Used cars

Before buying a new or used car, SUV or truck, make sure the seller is asking a fair price before hitting the gas on the pricey purchase. For new vehicles, search online for both the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and the invoice price, which is the amount the dealer pays for the vehicle.

“The dealer would like you to negotiate using the MSRP as the starting point. But the pro move is to use the dealer’s asking price as the starting point,” says auto resource Edmunds. “In most cases, you’ll find that the dealership has already discounted the vehicle from MSRP. Use the market value as your price target in the negotiations.”

For used vehicles, fill in the make, model, mileage and features of the vehicle on sites such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds to find out the fair market value. While you’re there, read reviews for the vehicle for more information on reliability, repairs and other factors.

Find out: 9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a New Car on Impulse

3. Medical procedures

Before you book an appointment for that colonoscopy or other expensive medical procedure, find out the price first. Then perform an online search on the typical cost for the procedure in your area at sites such as Fair Health, New Choice Health and Medicare.gov. However, keep in mind that the cost shown may not include charges for anesthesiology, pathology or other related costs.

Find out: 5 Tips to Start Paying Off Your Medical Debt

4. New appliances

Wondering if the price a company quoted for a new air conditioner, furnace or entire HVAC system is fair? You can look up the typical cost for these and other appliances, including labor costs, on Angie’s List, a resource for homeowners in search of service providers, reviews and home repair information.

Find out: Dust Off These 6 Home Items Now to Save  on Repairs Later

5. Home repairs

Whether you need a new garage door, foundation repair or plumbing services, Angie’s List is also a great resource for finding out if the company you want to hire is charging a fair price. While you’re at it, make sure you also check out reviews on Yelp and the Better Business Bureau about that company’s pricing, service and other practices.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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