One word: Ask.
That’s right. Whether you want a raise, a lower interest rate, a discount, or a freebie, you can greatly improve your chances of getting them just by asking.
While there are a few people who will go out of their way to make sure you get a discount (clerks at our local grocery store come to mind) for the most part it’s up to you to get the things you’d like. If you’ve worked at a job for more than a year and haven’t heard word one about a raise or a review process, set aside a few minutes to meet with your boss and ask. It can’t hurt. Even if he or she says no, you’ll be able to ask what you can do to get one in the future. (And if they say “nothing, there’s a wage freeze” consider looking elsewhere unless you really love the job.)
If you’re out shopping for something and would like to get a discount or have them throw something in for free, again, just ask. I usually ask “Are there any discounts I could get on this?” or sometimes “Will you throw this in for free too?”. Many times people will say yes, even at regular retail stores. There might be AAA discounts they can offer, manager’s discounts, it may be going on sale if you wait a few days, etc. But you won’t know it unless you ask.
It can take a little courage at first to ask. You may feel some resistance to it. But while I’ve had people tell me no, I’ve never had anyone act like it was strange that I was asking. And remember: if you don’t ask, you’ll never know what you might have gotten.