First Person: Learning the Art of Haggling

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My husband says that I am a painfully shy person and that I do not stand up for myself. For example, I will eat an entrée in a restaurant even if it is not how I ordered it before I will complain. Being shy was the main reason why I found it difficult to haggle for a better price. However, the recession and my failing budget forced me to choose between my shyness and bankruptcy - - that is when I learned how to haggle for a better deal.

How I haggle to save money

  • Research - When I walk into a business, I come armed with information and already know what is considered a fair deal. I have researched market prices for what I want to purchase. I use the internet, Craig's List, eBay and any local advertisements for researching average prices. If available, always use specific trade publications (i.e. NADA and KBB) when researching prices for haggling.
  • Learn to ask one simple question - A salesperson is not going to offer you a better deal unless you ask for it. When shopping for our couch, I simply asked the salesman if he could do any better on the price. That one question saved me an additional 15% off the already reduced price I had negotiated with him. Never assume that the price you are discussing is the best that a business can offer - - always ask one last time before finalizing your purchase.
  • Be willing to walk away - If you reek of desperation, you will never be able to get a lower price. I had to learn to play hard to get and not allow a salesperson to see how much I really wanted something. When we purchased our last vehicle, I had determined the price I would pay and told the salesperson. When he said he could not do that, I thanked him for his time and bid him goodbye. The downside of this tactic is I had to be willing to let this item go knowing it was not the one and only car for me. The tactic worked because he called me back and agreed to the price that I offered.
  • Know when to seal the deal - The true art of haggling is knowing when to accept the price being offered. Doing your research in advance and having a firm maximum price you are willing to pay will keep you focused. In the case of my vehicle, I researched the current market value and determined I would pay no more than $1,000 over the Blue Book value. Once the dealer agreed to my price, I knew it was time to take the deal.
  • Use competition to your advantage - I reduced my cable and internet bill just by mentioning to my current provider that a rival had sent me an offer in the mail. They matched the offer and reduced it by 10% to keep me as a customer. Never underestimate the value of good, old-fashioned competition among companies.

By haggling, you can save money on everything from cable bills to new cars and even vacations. Do not give up! Just because you do not get a great deal this time does not mean you will not the next time you haggle.

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

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