16 Tips to Make Haggling Work for You

This post comes from Gary Foreman at partner site The Dollar Stretcher.

It happens in markets and stores all around the world. Buyers and sellers haggle over prices. Sometimes they succeed and a deal is struck. Other times, the buyer walks away empty-handed.

Here in the States, dickering over a purchase is often confined to yard sales and flea markets, with the occasional attempt when buying houses and cars. But there’s no reason you can’t apply haggling skills to any potential purchase. Not only will you find you get greater value, you might also find shopping more fun.

Try these 16 ways to make haggling work for you:

  1. Research before you shop. Know something about the manufacturer, product, and competing products. Decide in advance which features are important to you.
  2. Have a target price. Know what other stores charge for the same or similar items. Decide on a good price before you begin negotiations. Aim for a great price, but know what price you’d be willing to accept.
  3. Don’t insult the seller. You can make an offer that’s so low that the seller thinks you’re not serious. That will shut down negotiations before they begin.
  4. Be willing to hear “no.” Not every attempt to haggle will be welcomed. Sometimes you’ll be rebuffed. Don’t take it personally: You haven’t lost anything by trying.
  5. Look for damage. Whether it’s clothing or a refrigerator, even minor damage should mean a lower price.
  6. Don’t be desperate. Don’t allow yourself to fall in love with an item before you begin to haggle. A desperate buyer has few tools to motivate the seller.
  7. Have cash in your pocket. Using cash versus credit cards to pay for your purchase adds about 1 percent to the seller’s profit. Let the seller know you’re willing to pay cash.
  8. Timing is everything. Most sellers are more willing to deal when an item is going out of season, out of style, or out of model year. If you can help the seller reduce unwanted inventory, you can increase your discount.
  9. Timing is everything (part 2). The calendar can be your friend. Sometimes salespeople or a store are under a monthly quota. There may be other financial advantages for them to complete a sale this month, so deals may be a little sharper near the deadline.
  10. Make it easy on the seller. You’ll have more leverage if you’re ready to take possession now and take the item with you. Let the seller know that’s your plan.
  11. Find a willing partner. If a salesperson tells you they cannot change prices, politely ask if there’s someone in the store that can. A manager or store owner might be better able to negotiate a deal.
  12. Make the salesperson like you. Treat them with respect. Compliment them if they deserve it. They’ll cut a better deal with someone they like.
  13. Change the subject. If you can’t haggle on price, perhaps you can get an accessory thrown in or free delivery.
  14. Be willing to ask for help. Sometimes you don’t have enough money to get what you want. Tell the salesperson and ask if there’s any way to get it. They might share a creative solution.
  15. Be prepared to walk. Walking away from a salesperson is a great motivator. Often you’ll hear them come up with one last offer.
  16. Keep it light. Haggling isn’t warfare. If you approach it with a sense of humor, the salesperson is likely to join you. Two people having fun haggling are more likely to come to a mutually agreeable price.

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com. The site features many personal finance topics including an article on The Art of Haggling. You can follow Gary on Twitter.

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