Handy Tips for Haggling at the Markets

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When you go shopping, do you see the posted price or examine an item's tag and automatically assume you must pay that price? Or do you wish you had the guts and the know-how to negotiate a better price? If the latter describes you, then you need to know how to haggle.

What is haggling?

It's a harsh-sounding word for negotiate. And just like the word, the action isn't something that usually just flows. While there are natural hagglers out there, usually this special type of person is made, not born.

Would you like to be remade as a haggler? Read on for some tips that will help get you started.

To be a true haggler, you need to know what you want.

If you're just out shopping for fun and not looking for something specific, your haggling potential has gone down. It's possible to haggle on the fly, but it's much easier to do so when you know the true cost of an item, how popular it is, and how many other places you can get it. In other words, doing a little homework before you hit the markets is helpful.

For example, say you want a specific type of car. Is this car readily available at several different dealerships? If yes, then you can tell the dealer, "I can get this car for five hundred dollars less. What can you do for me?" More than likely, the dealer will meet or better the price, perhaps throwing in a free warranty. Unfortunately, if you want a specific car that's only available in one or two places, your haggling potential goes down.

How badly do you want this item?

If you can't get it for the price you wish to pay, can you walk away from it? If you cannot leave it behind, again you've lowered your haggling potential. In order to get the best deal, you need to know that you can just leave. And the seller needs to know that as well. Now, if you're trying to buy a diamond necklace for a dollar, you're going to have to walk away. No seller is that desperate. However, if the economy has been slow, a seller might be willing to take a significant reduction in the price in order to move the inventory.

It comes back to doing your homework. This point can't be stressed enough. Know what the industry rate is--whether for labor on a repair job or for purchasing a retail item. Only then can you bargain from a position of power. And let's face it, haggling can only be done when the other person wants to make a deal more than you do.

What about when haggling is expected?

When visiting flea markets, swap sales or open air markets, especially when traveling abroad, vendors generally expect to haggle and will name an outrageous price at first. Don't be afraid to dive into haggling here. In fact, some vendors will be downright offended if you pay the first price they ask without putting up a fuss. So, be prepared to offer a lower amount to counter their first suggestion. The give and take of pricing that you can find in these venues can be a lot of fun, as long as you don't take any of it too seriously.

If all else fails while negotiating a price, you can always ask the seller for the final price. Make sure your emotions stay out of the equation and calmly ask, "What's the best you can do?" Often, that will let the seller know you're serious and you can cut to the deal.

Keep in mind that while saving money is important and worthwhile, haggling isn't necessarily about winning. It's about negotiating and that just might require a bit of compromise. Of course, it's always better if the seller is doing the lion's share of the compromise! And in the end, you have to live with the deal you've made. If you've haggled well, that won't be a problem.

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