Once you know how and when to play the game, the possibilities are endless – you’ll be getting almost everything for less.
Step 1: Score good customer breaks Start locally. Ask merchants that you patronize on a regular basis if you can get a discount for being such a 'loyal customer.' Most will be happy to oblige.
Step 2: Work the big-box retailers Finally buying that high-end appliance? Visit one of the big-box retailers and start by offering a couple hundred dollars less than the lowest advertised price.
TIP: Negotiate with jewelers If you don't know the value of an item, start by offering 30% less than the asking price.
Step 3: Buy last-minute and in bulk Whenever possible, offer to buy the entire inventory of an item that has a limited shelf life – at a discount. You’ll be doing them a favor and they’ll be happy to reciprocate with a lower price.
TIP: Never start by asking, "What's your best price?" – that lets the seller set the bottom line price, not you.
Step 4: Be ready with a counter-offer When they come back with a higher price, let them know you might pay a little more – if they throw in free delivery, installation, and an extended warranty.
Step 5: Ask about upcoming sales Always ask if the item you want is going on sale anytime soon. If the answer is yes, suggest they sell it to you now at the lower price – or you may just buy it elsewhere in the meantime.
Step 6: Look for last year’s model For the best deals, focus on items that are no longer the hot new product; merchants are more likely to take a bath on old inventory that they need to move.
Step 7: Negotiate with jewelers Never pay the listed price on a piece of jewelry -- the markup is between 300% and 1,000%! Haggle accordingly.
Step 8: Ask about promotions If it’s not a store you frequent, ask if there are any coupons, promotions, or discounts you should know about before shopping there. The merchant may give you one just to get – and keep – you
TIP: Make sure to ask them quietly or in private. They’ll be more inclined to say yes if they’re not worried everyone within earshot is going to demand the same deal.
TIP: Even the cost of health care is negotiable. If you don’t have insurance, ask if you can pay a reduced fee for office visits, pharmacy items, and hospital stays. Most practitioners will oblige whenever possible.
Step 9: Ask for a cash discount Now that you've negotiated yourself the lowest possible price, offer to pay in cash. You may just save yourself another 10%!
FACT: More than half the people who tried to negotiate a lower price with their pharmacist, physician, dentist, or hospital were successful, according to a 2005 poll.