Learn How to Haggle
Posted by Sarah at 3:00 pm in Finance, Great Deals, Shopping

If you’ve ever been to an open air market, farmer’s market or garage sale, you know what haggling is. The price tag says $6; you counter with $3 and settle with the seller somewhere in between. However, most Americans forget that this type of negotiating can be used in other transactions – frequently saving the haggler lots of money. You might instinctively know to haggle over the price of a home or a car, but did you know that you can also negotiate the price of major appliances, furniture and clothes? Read on for more haggling tips.

Lots of people get uncomfortable at the thought of haggling. Some think that offering a lower price insults the shop owner or think that negotiating isn’t appropriate in certain situations. However, retail managers have a greater deal of flexibility than most people realize and – after all – it never hurts to ask! Typically, haggling works best on big ticket items or items sold outside the traditional retail setting (like flea markets and yard sales). You can always try haggling at Walmart or other discount retailers, but don’t expect stellar results.

If you’ve got a big ticket purchase in mind, do your research before hand. Find out the price of the item at several different stores and set a maximum amount you’re willing to pay for the item. When you visit the stores, allow the sales person to show you several items above your price range. Make a show of considering them all, then tell the salesperson, “Thanks for your help, but I’ve really only got $1500 to spend. Is there anything you can do to help?” The sales person may counter with a higher offer and it’s up to you to read their facial expressions and body language to see how low they’ll go. This is the fun part of haggling!

If you’ve seen an ad for the same item at a lower price somewhere else, you can use that in your negotiations. Chances are good that if the competitor can go lower, so can the store you’re visiting. Ask a manager if they can match the price, or even go a little lower to secure your business. If the price isn’t negotiable, the manager may be able to throw in a free item to keep you in the store. Don’t be afraid to walk out if you can’t reach an agreement – there’s sure to be someone somewhere else who is willing to make a deal.

When shopping outside the traditional retail setting, dress in clean, but inexpensive-looking clothing. Sellers aren’t likely to haggle if you look like you can pay the full price. And don’t carry big wads of cash around with you – there’s a chance another seller will notice and you’ll lose your credibility as someone who needs a bargain. You might also be able to score a good deal by packaging items together. Offer a flat rate for several items, rather than trying to haggle over each one separately – you’ll save the seller’s time and your money.

Time your purchases carefully. If you’re planning to ask for a big price cut on a new car, don’t do it the day after the auto maker announces billions of dollars in 3rd quarter losses. But do ask for a discount at the end of the month when salespeople are anxious to make their monthly quotas. If you’re shopping for a big ticket item, visit when store traffic is slow – usually between 2-4 pm. If you’re shopping at a flea market, you can get the best deals when the shop has just opened and sellers are trying to cover their expenses, or near the end of the day when they’re trying to clear out extra inventory.

Haggling can seem intimidating at first – after all, it’s so much easier to look at the price tag and hand over the cash. So start small. Ask for a few dollars off the blouse with a small tear at the seam, or ask for a free item when you’ve received poor service. Before you know it, you’ll be knocking thousands of dollars off the price of your new car and saving bundles of money on all your purchases.

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