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Negotiating Smarts

Save money everywhere!
Malia Jacobson
Thursday, April 5, 2018

Why should you take the time to try and wrangle a better deal on that new fridge? Because a lot is at stake, says Ellie Kay, author of The 60-Minute Financial Workout. In today’s economy, no one can afford to throw money away, particularly parents with growing kids and rising expenses. “Paying less for purchases gives you more money to do things like paying down credit card debt, putting money aside for retirement and funding your kids’ college,” she says. And according to Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover, confident negotiators can save on everything – even pizza delivery! From car repairs to toaster ovens and clothing to groceries, you can buy what you need and save thousands in the process, if you’re willing to ask. Keep the following tactics in your pocket, and you’ll never be far from your next great deal.

Put mind over matter. First, get over the misplaced fear of looking or feeling foolish. People all over the world use negotiating tactics every day without a second thought. It’s okay to feel scared, says Kay, but don’t let that feeling stop you. “It may seem awkward at first, but it’s usually just the fear of the unknown,” she says. “Remember, this is something you are doing to improve your family’s bottom line.” Keeping that big-picture perspective will give you the confidence to get started.

Do your homework. Arrive prepared. The volume of product information available online today makes it a snap to find the essential facts about any product you’re after. Come prepared to bargain with a basic idea of what you need and want, including “must-have” and “nice-to-have” features. But don’t get your heart set on a particular brand or model.

Establish a rapport. Engaging the salesperson in a warm and friendly manner first can help smooth the way to a successful negotiation. Look to them for their help and expertise and offer a genuine compliment (without gushing). Like bees to honey, a little sweetness upfront can help seal a great deal in the end.

Use the power of technology. Today’s smartphones, laptops, and tablets put a world of portable purchasing power at your fingertips. Pull up prices of comparable items at rival stores on your phone and show the sales manager. Your Internet-connected device can be a valuable asset in the negotiating process, so bring it with you when you shop to keep tabs on real-time prices at the competition. 

Find a flaw. A small dent (hopefully where it’s not noticeable), a hole, a faint streak of dirt… little imperfections like these can almost always work in your favor – especially if down the road they can be easily repaired. Any sign of damage or wear and tear is good reason for a discount since it can’t be sold as new, explains Kay. So be an observant shopper and check similar items to see if one might afford you negotiating power.

Flash cash. Ramsey counsels bargain hunters to “use the power of cash.” The sight of crisp dollar bills triggers an emotional response that can be a powerful negotiating tool, he notes. It’s entirely feasible to get the sales tax waived or additional discounts thrown in when you tell a sales manager that the cash in your hand is all you have to spend on your purchase, including tax, delivery and other fees. So show them the money, and watch sellers scramble to get their hands on it.

Say the magic words. You’ve done your homework, you’re armed with cash – now what? Start the negotiating process with five simple words, “Is that your best price?” This phrase works in nearly every situation by informing the seller that you’re looking for a deal and putting the ball into their court. 

If all else fails, walk away. Always remember that you have the power to put your cash back in your pocket, walk away and search out another deal. There are legions of stores and salespeople who are eager for your business, so don’t settle for a subpar transaction. Keep a light, pleasant attitude, and be prepared to politely thank the salesperson for their time if the negotiation isn’t fruitful.

Negotiate with sincerity. Above all, maintain your integrity throughout the negotiating process. Bargaining is a two-way street, so tell the truth and be ready to hold up your end of the deal. Telling a sob story about a lack of finances won’t help you score a great deal – your negotiating talent will. So sharpen those skills and be prepared to wield them with authority, integrity and sincerity. Your pocketbook and your family will thank you!