Negotiating prices

It’s no secret that our failing economy has forced many consumers to use age-old methods like bartering and bargaining to get what we need.  Have you ever considered that an item’s worth is not established by its price tag, but rather what you’re willing to pay?   When you’re shopping, consider using your negotiating skills to get a great price for an item that you want.   Here are some tips to get you going.

1.  Be confident when negotiating your price. You can determine the going market for goods by searching completed listings for similar items on eBay or by researching prices on Amazon.  If you make an offer, be prepared to immediately act upon the purchase if the seller agrees on your price.  You can also be prepared to negotiate by shopping around at competitors.  My husband, the King of Negotiation, recommends playing the good-cop-bad-cop routine, but that’s not my style.  I like to be direct and firm about what I’m willing to pay.  I don’t like to waste my time and I try to respect the seller by not wasting his/her time, either.

An easy place to hone your bargaining skills is at yard sales.  Typically the seller is ready to part with the item already and is probably expecting to make a deal that’s a little lower than what the item’s marked.  When I shop at yard sales, I try to have an idea of what I’m looking for and how I will use it.  This keeps me from picking up too many impulse buys.  Determine what you’re willing to pay and be assertive yet polite when making your offer.  Asking with a smile also helps!  Before making an offer, understand that you might need to compromise and meet the seller halfway if you really want the item.  Are you willing to walk away from the deal if the seller says no?  That’s something you need to decide ahead of time.

2.  Cash-and-carry is key. This is especially true if you are practicing at a yard sale or consignment shop.  Smaller businesses may have to pay a fee for debit and credit card use, so they might be willing to pass the savings on to you in exchange for using cash.  When you make the offer, explain that you’re willing to pay cash.  The seller needs to know that you're willing to take it right then, too.   I don’t recommend using cash if the seller is unwilling to provide a receipt for a big-ticket item, though.  This could put you in a bad position if you need to return the item.

3.   Before negotiating a price in a store, be aware of the return policy. Unless you’ve agreed to buy the item as-is, you want to be sure that you can bring the product back if there’s a problem.  For instance, if you’re purchasing a shirt that has been a small stain on it, ask if a discount can be offered for the shirt.  Often the salesperson will be more than happy to give you 25% or 50% off, and you were going to wash it after you bought it anyway!  When you’re buying shoes and the only one in your size is on display, ask if it is discounted.  See what I mean?   You can find your own sales in this world!

4.  Don't settle for "no" if you need the price to be lower. If you’re shopping for furniture or more expensive items, don’t accept the “we don’t have a sale price on this” comment from the salesperson.  There is always a promotion that can be found!   Are you okay with flexible financing, such as a same-as-cash deal?  Maybe there is a credit that you can be given?  Would you be happy with an extra pillow or two?  Whatever the deal, you can find a way to do it.  Often when I ask if there are upcoming sales that include the item, the salesperson is usually willing to offer me the sale price that day rather than risking me walking out the door and not coming back when the sale is active.

I hope you’ll take the opportunity to negotiate some prices this week!  It’s empowering to find that you can stretch a dollar just by asking.  Don’t forget to say thank you to the seller for accepting your offer.  That goodwill pays off in big ways!

This is a guest post from Dianna Gardenhour at Savings In Seconds. Visit for more tips on savings.  Watch for a upcoming special feature on negotiating prices on expensive items like cars and houses!

Image thanks to 401K on Flickr.

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