Haggle. Barter. Negotiate. Cut a deal. There’s a lot of sayings out there for getting a good bargain. And why not? Everyone loves a deal. But there’s—dare we say it—an art to knowing how to haggle. It’s not hard. You just have to know the right way to do it. But don’t let that scare you. Once you learn the rules of haggling for a good bargain, you’ll become a negotiating pro in no time!
How to Haggle in 10 Easy Steps
1. Always tell the truth.
Keep your character intact, people. Always. Don’t compromise your integrity for the sake of an extra 10% off. Your character and integrity are worth way more than that.
2. Time it right.
The end of the day is a great time to get your haggle on. The business is getting ready to close up shop for the day, there are less customers in there, and the seller would love to make a sale—even if it’s at a discounted price.
Try to go as close to the end of the month as you can. This is when a lot of car dealerships, furniture stores and basically anyone working on commission is trying to fill their quota. Bottom line here? Your purchase can help out their bottom line.
3. Ask for a discount.
You know the old saying, “You never know if you don’t ask.” Well, it’s true! If you don’t ask for a discount, you’ll never know if they’ll offer you one. So speak up! Don’t leave any money on the table here.
4. Use the power of cash.
God bless the power of cash. There’s just something about waving a piece of paper with a president’s face on it that really gets people’s attention. If you want to learn how to haggle like a pro, always use cash. It’s emotional and it’s visual, so use it to your advantage. It tells the seller you’re serious and that this can be a done deal in only a matter of minutes.
5. Use your walk-away power.
Be ready to walk away if you need to. Don’t let the seller think you’re absolutely in love with their product and that you can’t live without it . . . because you probably won’t get a deal if you do that.
Try saying something like, “You know, I feel like you could give me a better deal here.” The worst thing they can do is say no. And if they do, well, then that’s just how the cookie crumbles. Walk away and be patient waiting for a good deal somewhere else.
Remember, you need to be patient when you’re hunting for a good bargain. Never have your heart set on an item you’re negotiating over. If that happens, your chances of getting a good deal are pretty slim. The seller will be able to sniff you out a mile away. Know when to exercise walk-away power and use it when you need to. If you can show that you have the ability to say no, then you hold the upper hand in the bargain. And you never know—they might call you back and give you a deal there on the spot (or reach out to you later).
6. Know when to be quiet.
Silence is golden, so use that awkward silence to your advantage! Let’s say you’re trying to get a great deal on a car. Throw out your offer to the salesman. And when he tells you all the reasons why he can’t go lower on the price, sit there and don’t say anything. Yeah, it’s going to get super weird, but it might just do the trick to get Mr. Car Salesman to give you a discount.
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Don’t be rude or mean here. Just let the seller do all the talking for you and see where it goes. Sometimes silence can be the key to getting the deal you want.
7. Say, “That’s not good enough.”
When the seller gives you a price you’re not thrilled about, try saying, “You know . . . that’s not good enough.” Boom! Drop that torpedo and see if the seller will try to gain your business.
Again, don’t be a jerk, but be direct.
8. Let them know your budget.
You’d be surprised how willing people are to haggle when they know you’re on a budget. Be up front and tell them straight out, “Hey, the most I’m able to spend on this antique chair is $125, and that’s the best I can do.”
9. Beware of the “good guy/bad guy” technique.
Okay, this isn’t something you can do. Instead, it’s a selling tactic you need to beware of. You’ll know they’re playing the game if you see something like this: The seller tells you, “Hey, I’d love to give you a lower price, I really would. I’m on your side here. But my manager . . . she just won’t go for it.” And then they might even disappear for a while to pretend like they are talking to their manager, but in reality, they’re not.
Instead, they’re probably sitting in the back room with their feet propped up, sipping a cup of coffee, and just killing time. Then they’ll come back out and tell you something like, “Yeah, my manager just isn’t budging on that price. But here’s what I’ll do for you . . .” And then he’ll offer you a deal that isn’t even a deal at all. So look out for this tactic the next time you’re trying to haggle.
10. Master the “if I take away” technique.
If you know the seller is firm on their price, try shaking things up. Say something like, “Well, if you throw in that washing machine too, then we’ll have a deal.” Odds are, the seller isn’t going to add this new item to the deal. So when he says “nope,” then you fire back by saying, “All right, if you can’t throw in the washing machine, then you’ll need to throw something else in . . . or you have to come down on the price.”
See what just happened there? You used something as leverage that wasn’t even in the deal to begin with! That’s a pretty slick move there, buddy. Try this next time you’re haggling for a good bargain and see if it moves the needle.
How to Haggle When Buying a Car
1. Know your budget.
You can’t go a-haggling when you don’t know your budget to begin with. So, sit down and work out all the numbers before you ever set foot on that car lot (you can use our free budgeting app, EveryDollar, to get started). Get up close and personal with that number. Know it like the back of your hand. Get attached to it.
Once you actually set foot on that car lot, the salesperson is going to do everything in their power to get you to forget that number you walked in with. If you can only spend $7,000 on a car, that’s it. Stick to your guns!
2. Do your research.
So you’ve got your eyes set on a 2013 Honda Civic. Do your research on sites like Kelley Blue Book to know the value of the vehicle on the front end. This will help you to know if the car on the lot is way overpriced or right on target. And check out several different used cars sellers to get a better idea of what people are asking for.
If you find a vehicle you’re interested in, get the vehicle identification number (VIN) from the seller. Then you can do some digging on sites like Carfax.com or VehicleHistory.com to learn more about that specific car. Knowledge is going to give you major haggling power.
Now that you’ve figured out your budget and done your research, go ahead and use those 10 haggling tips you just learned when negotiating a car price.
“We saved up around $10,000 to pay cash for a car. We lowballed and made an offer of $7,500 in cash. The salesperson was ‘on our side’ but said he couldn’t take that offer to the manager. After a couple more go-rounds, we made a final offer of $9,800. He said no, and we walked away. But we got a text the next morning from the salesperson offering us $9,100 plus licensing and fees. Total cost: $10,101. BOOM.” — Bethany
How to Haggle Online
Buying online has really revved up over the years. Not only do we have Amazon Prime (praise!), now we have person-to-person purchasing on apps like VarageSale, OfferUp, Poshmark, Craigslist and even Facebook Marketplace.
1. Make an offer.
When people are just trying to get rid of something (especially online), they might be more likely to let you have it for less than asking price. Is someone on Facebook Marketplace asking $15 for that Himalayan salt lamp? Tell them you’ll give them $12 and see what they do. They might counter, and then you can accept or counter again.
2. Speak up about the condition.
If you’re buying a used item, pay attention to the wear and tear of it. If there are scuff marks on those shoes, cat claw marks on the arm of the couch, or some worn-out knees on those blue jeans—point it out. Tell them, “I’ll give you this amount because of the flaws of the item.” See if they’ll bite.
You can definitely put our 10 solid tips for haggling for a good bargain to use here too, but you’ll probably find that some just won’t work the same online as they do in person. It’s pretty difficult to use the silent treatment when you’re typing at a keyboard, you know? Just go with the flow and see what tips work for you.
And with anything online, remember to tread carefully, be on the lookout for anything that seems shady, and never give out any personal information if it makes you uncomfortable.
How to Haggle With a Trade
Here’s a haggling secret you might not know about: You can trade. Yep, that’s right. You don’t always have to buy the item you’re haggling for with money. Sometimes the seller will accept a trade instead.
Now, the seller probably won’t want to trade you a car for your prized Beanie Baby collection—we’re talking about trading things of value here, not just sentimental value.
You can trade something you own or barter your services in exchange for a good bargain. Babysitting, running errands, and mowing a lawn are great options. Trading services is a lot easier when you buy from your next-door neighbor at their garage sale than from the guy at the car lot, but you get the picture.
What Kind of Things Can I Save Money On by Haggling?
Great question. It’s not just items on Craigslist or counter offers on buying a new home. You can haggle for a ton of different things. Everything’s for sale, right? Then everything has the opportunity for a bargain!
Here are some things you can try your hand at haggling for:
- Perishable food
- Gym memberships
- Accommodations (Hotel or Airbnb)
- Car rentals
- Cellular coverage
How to Find the Deals
Now that you know how to haggle the right way, are you ready to give it a shot? Great! But sometimes it’s hard to find a place to put it into practice. The final key to a getting a bargain is to know where to find deals. Here are some of the most common places you might have some luck:
- Garage sales
- Public/online auctions
- Thrift stores
- Facebook Marketplace
- Repo lots
- Flea markets
- Pawn shops
- Classified ads
- Consignment shops
- Estate sales
How to Budget for a Good Deal
When you’re haggling for a good bargain, always remember to ask yourself, Can I actually use this? Do I really need this? Even if it’s in your budget, if it’s something you don’t need or can’t use, it’s not a good deal. That’s how well-meaning people end up on Hoarders. Danger, Will Robinson! Only buy what you need and can use—it doesn’t matter how “can’t pass it up” it looks. Spoiler alert: You can pass it up. And you’ll live. We promise.
For more great bargaining tips, check out Financial Peace University (FPU). Lesson 5 of this course reveals the crazy power and influence that marketing has on our everyday buying decisions, plus the secrets of negotiating a win-win deal. Now, go get your haggle on!