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Learn to Bargain

We’ve all seen items we would like to have but which are priced above our budget.  Usually we will settle for a similar item of lower quality to pay what we can afford or not buy it at all.  However, we can learn a lot from the growing number of people who have found that they can have their cake and eat it, too.  These people have learned to bargain!

Society has given bargaining a bad name over the past few decades.  The word brings to mind the image of little old ladies at garage sales haggling over an item already priced ridiculously low, doesn’t it?  But bargaining is part of everyday life, especially for the wealthy and the powerful.  In fact, learning to bargain skillfully was and is a skill that helped those people achieve their goals.

As long as you are confident and bargain strategically, you can get a lower price on nearly any item.  Your strategy is the key to getting the seller to cooperate with you.  For instance, if you ask a store manager for a lower price on an office desk while you’re within hearing distance of other customers you will probably be turned down.  Obviously, if people think the manager is a pushover they’ll all be clamoring for discounts so it’s not in the store’s interest to cooperate with you.  Do your bargaining in privacy and be discreet!

Another way to bargain effectively is to buy in bulk.  If you are shopping for furniture and have chosen a bedroom suite ask the salesperson if they will throw in that cedar chest or another item at no charge.  You’d be surprised how often this strategy succeeds.  You haven’t received a discount on your purchase but you’ve received something you need or want at no cost.

 Remember that furniture is typically marked up as much as 100% over its wholesale price so giving a discount doesn’t appreciably cut into the profit factor.  Also, shopping for more than one big-ticket item such as appliances also increases your chances of receiving a discount for buying in bulk. 

When it comes to financial transactions, cash is king.  Cash is a powerful motivation for an otherwise immovable sales person to discount your purchase.  For instance, if you’ve tried and failed to get a discount on that flat screen television you’ve had your eye one, offer to pay in cash.  You can usually get 10-15% off the retail price with this strategy.

Look for items that are not tagged but don’t ever remove a tag to attempt to get a better price!  Express your interest in the item and offer the lowest price that is reasonable.  In more than half these instances you’ll be able to negotiate a sizable discount if you start at about half the price the item is normally tagged at.  

Using these strategies will often win you discounts or free merchandise.  Be sure to shop at the end of the month or the financial quarter when stores are closing their books and trying to make room for new merchandise but avoid the weekends. 

One final bit of advice: always be respectful of the person you are bargaining with.  Be polite but firm and confident, always ready to walk away cheerfully if you can’t agree on a price that makes you both happy.  Walking away from negotiations will win your case about half the time, but if not, accept your failure gracefully and take your business elsewhere.

Author James Vignione, administrator of Orion Systems specializes in free personal finance software, calculators, and financial information to help people manage and organize their finances more efficiently.

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