Last week, Jason shared a guest post on how to negotiate to save money. Daylily Diva wrote to share her own experiences, which I’ve reproduced here with permission.

I love haggling — it’s second nature to me.  If I’m buying bagged mulch at the garden center and some sacks have small puncture holes,  I negotiate a discount because the sacks are damaged.  I negotiate on everything. For one thing, I’m in the antiques business, and that forces you to learn haggling from day one.

Standard operating procedure
First, I’m always upbeat and happy when I haggle. I’m friendly, smiling, good-natured, make jokes. I never insult the person or his merchandise. I make the seller want to give me a discount to make the sale. After the money changes hands, I thank the seller. If they’re not busy making other sales, I tell them how much I will enjoy using a particular item which I’ve bought. When I leave the seller has money and is in a happier frame of mind than before I arrived.  This is the “win/win” technique. 

Here are some of the common ways I negotiate. Many people do these things.

  • If I’m at a yard sale or buying a bunch of things, I pile them up and ask for a better price because I’m buying a lot.
  • I always ask if there’s a discount for good customers, and that’s often all it takes to get a discount.
  • I ask, “Can you take $XXX if I promise to give it a good home?”   I say, “It’s so cute, I don’t need it, but it’s really attractive, can you take $XXX for it?”  It’s amazing how minor a nudge it takes to get something off the price.

These are common techniques that many people use. But there are a couple of others that work very well.

Good buyer, bad buyer
This is a wonderful technique.  The good buyer expresses interest to the salesperson.  She then consults with bad buyer, who is along for the ride.  The bad buyer has a glum attitude and many negative feelings, which he expresses. The salesperson works to overcome the objections. 

When we reach the absolute bottom price by haggling, the good buyer then says, “Well, my husband hates it but I like it, so if you can knock another 10% off I will take it anyway.”  This gives them the salesperson option of dropping ten per cent more which they usually do, or counter with a 5% discount.  Either way, you are ahead another five or ten percent!

Getting the boot
I use another trick after I arrive at the absolute rock bottom price with the seller, when they will not go a penny lower. At this point, I ask them to throw in some small extra thing. At a yard sale, for instance, I have made my pile of merchandise, obtained a rock bottom price for the heap, where the seller will go no lower. I then pick up some other item and say, “You drive a hard bargain. If you will toss in this lamp (or dog toy or vintage pillow or bread machine or whatever) to boot I will pay your price.” And they do!

Point out the positives
Praise the object and tell them why you like it, but admit that it is more expensive than you can manage.  I once bought a house this way.  The woman’s childhood home was for sale — her parents had died. The price was $45,000. She rented it to a nasty, dirty couple who stored dead cars on the lot, did not mow the lawn, stored junk in the house, etc. Every time a potential buyer came through to look, the man beat his wife while they were there, and it would not sell.  People made the owner low-ball offers while insulting her about the condition by  telling her how ratty it was. (Which it was, by the way.)

I went through and saw potential.  I arranged to have owner meet us at the property, which the real estate agent hated. But after three years of carrying this house on the for sale roster, the agent was desperate.  I took the owner  by the elbow, walked her around the property and through the house.  Periodically I would comment to  her on things which I liked. 

I admired the scraggly hydrangea which her father had planted and asked her what flowers to plant around the base of it to make it look most attractive. I commented on how clever her father had been to build a summer house out of nothing and how much he must have enjoyed using it. I talked about how cute the house was, like a tiny  cottage in the woods.  I didn’t say one single negative thing. I chatted about some of the neighbors who had known her family and what warm feelings the neighbors had for her deceased parents.  I talked about how charming the house was when she was young, and how happy she must have been when she lived there as a child. I got her to talk about her life when she lived there.  

This woman already knew the negatives because people had been telling her about them for three years.  

The owner cut the price from $45,000 to $25,000 on the spot. She took my $5000 down payment and held the mortgage for the balance at below bank rate for five years, which was all it took to pay off the house in full. She turned the garage over to me three months before the closing and I rented it to a man for storage for $100/month, earning myself $300 gross rent before closing on the house! 

Because the owner held the paper, I didn’t have to have for pay for inspections, appraisals, points or origination fees. I got a bargain, and the woman was thrilled to sell the house to me for practically half price! She walked away from the deal happy as a clam.

That’s how to haggle, and it’s often by not running the thing into the ground. 

The exception to the rule
The only place I don’t get the best deal if I negotiate for myself is car dealerships.  When buying a car, I negotiate the best deal possible and get it in writing.  No matter how good the deal is, I return later with a man.  I let him do all the talking. I let him go mano a mano with the salesman while I sit silently by doing my “bump on a log” act. 

We invariably get another discount.  This would be depressing if I allowed myself to be depressed — instead I use the system to buy my cars at cheap prices. At car dealerships, a man who knows negotiation gets the best price.

In  my experience, almost everything is negotiable. I negotiate. The worst the seller can say is “no” and if so, so what? Most people will give a discount if they are ready to sell — you just have to ask!


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I love receiving e-mail with readers stories like this. If you ever have something you think Get Rich Slowly readers could learn from, please send it in. Flickr photo by TheeErin.

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