I had to learn to haggle. I learned the art of haggling while traveling overseas, mostly in third world countries. In places like Asia, the Middle East and Mexico where haggling is expected. If you don’t try to bargain the price, you are going to be ripped off. Haggling is going to save you a lot of money.
In the United States, we don’t haggle. We bargain. But no matter what you call it, there is a lot of potential cash involved. You may think that taking the time to learn to haggle is a waste. That the reality is that you only haggle over house and car purchases. That simply is not true.
We Haggle in the USA
Even in the USA, the opportunity to bargain presents its self in many places. You can bargain over items on Craigslist and at garage sales. Prices at farmers markets are rarely cast in stone. Another big negotiation (another, fancier word for haggling) is over your salary or your next raise. You can haggle at antique stores and other upscale goods stores as well (think Persian carpets). Many mom and pop and independent stores will bargain with you too.
It is worthwhile, therefore, to learn to haggle. You can do great things for your budget when you haggle over prices.
My first haggling experience was with taxi drivers in Bali. Universally, they wanted $10 for starters, to go anywhere. Mind you, there were meters in the cab, and the trips they wanted to charge $10 for would generally have cost a dollar or two, but you could not get the drivers to turn on the meters. Which leads to the first two rules of haggling.
Learn to Haggle Rules
Rule #1. Know your market. Be prepared with knowledge of what your cost should be. Knowing this will save you money and from being ripped off.
Rule #2. Have some perspective and humor about the situation. Especially in a third world country, being over-charged by a dollar or two or even five really doesn’t mean all that much if you are making a first world wage, but to that local cab driver, that money means a lot. Don’t spend a silly amount of effort over tiny negotiations. Make it something that is worth your while.
I would counter the cab drivers $10 fare offer with my own offer of $3. We always ended up at $5 or $6. This was a win/win for both myself and the cab driver.
Rule #3 for haggling is this. Start off upbeat and stay positive. No one wants to give a discount to someone who is nasty or mean or ill-tempered.
Rule #4. Do your bargaining out of earshot of other people. The vendor you are dealing with may be willing to give a deal once, in private. But they most likely are not going to want to give the same deal to everyone else who is listening in. If others are listening, your vendor may have no give at all in price.
When you are haggling, try never to be the first to offer a price. You could easily offer way too high if you start off. Let the seller make the first move. If the seller makes a ridiculously high offer, don’t counter with your own price, you may want to flinch (letting the seller know you think they are off the deep end) or you may just want to say, “You are going to have to do better than that”.
Silence often works wonders in a negotiation. No one likes silences. They are uncomfortable. Everyone always wants to fill the void of silence. Let the person you are haggling with fill that void. They will never come up with a higher price. They will either repeat their offer, which you can meet with more silence, or they will give you a discount. Once you get that first discount, you can start to haggle.
Silence works great! Silence will save you money.
Another great haggling tactic is to turn and start to walk out the door. Shopkeepers the world over will chase after you with a lower price. But you really have to be ready to give up on whatever it is you are haggling over. Should you turn around, or return another day, you turn over the power to the seller and you will never get a lower price.
Learn to haggle. Even in the USA and other first world countries, negotiating a deal should become more and more of your everyday vocabulary. Particularly with the emergence of the barter economy, you will see lots more opportunities to haggle and save yourself some money.
What items have you haggled over recently? What are your success stories? Any bargaining in the USA?