Outside of buying a car or a home, haggling's not the norm here in the U-S, right? Turns out you can talk your way into getting more bang for your buck for almost anything you buy.
And if you don't ask, the answer is always no.
"Talk to the salesperson," says financial adviser Doug Alexander. "What's important to ask..Is this the best you can do? Is this the best deal? Can you do better?"
This especially rings true with furniture sales. You'll likely find local retailers have more wiggle room to negotiate a price because they have less corporate bureaucracy. But even national stores can knock down a price, if you ask the right questions like: Are there deals you can get? Are there specials? Can we get free delivery? Is the floor model available for a reduced price?
You can even haggle your way into cheaper dry cleaning. Use the fact that you're a loyal client, you refer family and friends, returning hangers as bargaining points.
Phone, cable and internet companies are clamoring for your business, and ripe for a haggling situation. If you're at the end of your contract, know what the competition is offering and ask your current provider to match it or even beat it.
"Silence is golden sometimes and it's very powerful. The first one who talks will lose," says Alexander.
But, "It never hurts to ask," Alexander says. "What's the worst they can do? They can just say no."
Before you venture into the world of haggling, keep these things in mind:
Fall 'in like' not 'in love' with items. Haggling experts say as soon as you express, 'I gotta have this,' it's game over for bargaining.
Do your research. Knowing prices before you walk into a store gives you the power.
Pick the right time of day, the month and the year. Salespeople have more time to talk at the very beginning or very end of the day. If you catch them mid-morning or mid-afternoon, they can leave you for easier prey. Also consider the end of the month and end of the quarter, when some salespeople have to meet quotas. But don't try to haggle during the holidays. After Christmas, though, is a great time because retailers are trying to get rid of extra inventory.
Ask the salesperson first, then talk to the manager...especially in places where haggling is not the norm, like department stores and electronics shops, the manager is the most likely person with the authority to bend the rules.
And finally, walk away, but leave your contact information. If you sense you're not going to come out on top, be willing to leave the bargaining behind. But leave things open-ended. Be friendly, and leave your contact information in case the retailer has a change of heart.