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Haggling. Bartering. Dickering. Negotiating.
For some, those words bring dread. For others, they rub hands together in anticipation. It is agreed that everyone appreciates scoring a deal. But the method by which it is acquired, well, I’m here to help you with that. Negotiation is a great skill to acquire!
You see, before I traveled internationally I was unaware that MOST of the world conducts business this way. I was accustomed to walking into a store, finding the item I desired, then checking the price tag. If it was within my budget I took it to the checkout and purchased the item. But a whole new world opens up to you when you open your mind to the experience of bartering.
I lived in Israel for about 3 months. It was a rich experience. The beautiful clash of countries from all over the world cloistered in one tiny country, more specifically in one city, Jerusalem. For anyone who loves reading historical fiction as I do, it was a treat to walk the streets that were familiar before ever seeing them before.
The first time I entered the Old City in Jerusalem, my senses were assaulted on every level. Colors, music, jabbering in various languages, smells, tastes, and the sudden jolt of stepping down where you were unaware there was a step.
Merchants were pulling on you, haggling their wares, using the most hilarious wording as bait. Every inch of every wall was covered with items, some specifically geared toward tourists, others simple beauty of the Middle East.
I had a little cheat sheet in my pocket for dollar verses shekel comparison, and since I knew I would be living there for a few months, I decided to hold off purchasing anything prematurely so that I could do price comparisons and learn to barter. I actually came to know many of the merchants well because we frequented the Old City a lot and I promised them that I would indeed return one day to their shop to buy souvenirs to take home.
Three months later I returned to those shops and said, “I’m ready!” and I was. I had learned to barter so well that my traveling companions asked me to help shop for their items as well.
The method of pricing they practiced is one that everyone follows, really. Price item higher than it costs you to make/buy/stock it, and the seller comes out ahead. In the United States, we just accept pricing for face value because that is usually how it works.
But what if…WHAT IF you incorporated negotiation in your purchases?
Let’s figure out how to score you some deals!
Find a platform for practice
I’ve listed below some of the various places I have been able to practice bartering.
- Facebook Marketplace
- Home Utility Bills
- Yard Sales
- Thrift Stores
Lowering your bills is a great place to start – sometimes a company raises their prices after your initial year with them. More than once I have been in the position where I had to either lower the bill or drop the service. Often it is simply a matter of a easy phone call to customer service.
Be real – you’re not trying to be a skin flint here, you’re trying to fit your lifestyle into a limited budget. More than once, this has been very successful for me – one time our internet monthly bill was lowered more than 50%!
Yard Sales, Facebook and Craigslist
Most everyone has priced the item higher than they expect to get for it, so don’t take it for face value and buy it on the spot. (Unless of course something is priced with “FIRM” and even then there is always a place for negotiation.)
Ask if you can get a bundled price. If an item is defective, tell them your price takes into account what you need to invest to make the item usable again. This has even worked well for me at a thrift store when I have seen an item there for a while.
I bought our dresser from a company that clears homes of clutter – they make money coming and going with their products. The piece of furniture was exactly what I needed and wanted. I had been watching Craigslist like a hawk for one just like it. It was priced well above my budget.
I walked into the store and saw it had a break on one leg, and turned to the man at the desk “Would you consider $75?” I was expecting a counter offer, but it was scarcely out of my mouth and I heard “Done.” As it happened, I found a sweet antique chair there in the mass of furniture in the back that I convinced him to throw in the deal.
Cash is power
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
Cash is powerful when negotiating a purchase. It speaks louder than words. Don’t be afraid to use the power of green when you are deliberating with the seller. Pull it out, finger it as you talk together. I am completely serious here. Let the money talk for you.
Be willing to walk away
If you are committed to budgeting, you should be well practiced at this anyway, but it can also make or break a deal. When the seller realizes you are going to stick to your guns, they will often yield and accept the price you propose. The goal here is not to come across as Scrooge, rather someone who adheres to the perimeters you have given your finances.
You can never go wrong when you practice integrity. If you cannot afford it, most likely the person you are speaking with will respect that and do what they can to help you. There were many times I honestly confessed, “We are a young family on a budget, and this is what I have to offer you.”
Practice makes perfect
You don’t become a master craftsman overnight, and the same holds true with your bartering skills. Practice. Sometimes you leave a situation feeling a little dumb due to how the circumstances panned out, (I know I have!) but it’s okay. We learn through trial and error. Do your research on pricing and products, and go informed.
Are you ready?!
Pick one area in which you can begin practicing on this awesome, money saving skill!
How are you going to practice becoming a master barterer? Do you have any purchases in the near future you can use to start honing your skills? I’d love to hear how this may have helped you!