Four haggling tips that will save you a few bucks

Haggling: not just for the old country. via Flickr user Peter Morgan

Haggling: not just for the old country. via Flickr user Peter Morgan

On those rare (or frequent) days when you’re feeling extra-poor, everyday buys can seem to create gaping holes in your bank account. Suddenly every vendor is The Man, and you just want to stick it to them. So when the cashier at drugstore scans your items one on of these impoverished days, you finally say, “Oh, I’m actually only going to pay  [insert small dollar amount] for that today, thanks.”

Sound too good to be true? New York Magazine doesn’t think so. They just published a guide to haggling for just about everything, running you down a pretty exhaustive list of expenditures you can shrink down if you talk right. It’s kind of awesome. 

Rent
Landlords can be sleazy, but they’re also pretty low-maintenance. And they’re looking for the same thing in a tenant: if you can show yourself to be someone who will pay rent on time, chip in around the building should anything come up (e.g. shoveling snow), and do home improvement on your own time (or dime), you shouldn’t have any trouble getting at least a hundred bucks off your monthly.

Street Vendors
New York Mag claims it’s all in the body language, and I’m inclined to agree. The guys at fruit stands and scarf tables are veterans of the human psyche when it comes to purchase-making because they’ve seen it all. If you can time your Walk Away just so, you’ll hear the jewelry vendor calling you back with offers of a one-time lower price “just for you!”

*Brokester tip: the faux “I only have [less than it costs]!” gimmick might backfire on you if the vendor catches sight of a larger bill in your wallet. I like to pull out small bills and change before I walk up to make a purchase, so it looks like that’s my wiggle room and they feel like it’s that-or-bust.

Gym Membership 
Even though it’s tempting to haggle at bigger gyms like Crunch, there’s not actually a lot that those fitness reps who sign you up can do to lower the fees. They’re pretty low on the corporate food chain, as far as dealmaking goes. Pick an independent gym closer to home and you’ll find the management 100% more likely to play ball. Added bonus: Tell them about the ‘ridiculous costs’ incurred at your past chain gym. They’ll jump at the chance to one-up the Big Guys.

Vintage Clothing 
These independently-owned stores (or flea market booths) are run by people who genuinely care about the pieces they’re selling because oftentimes they personally took the time to find and restore the clothes. Demonstrate a vested (no pun intended) interest in the item you’re looking to buy and ask if there’s any way to lower the price. No need to bring out the starving-artist violin: vendors understand the inherent paradox in pricing vintage wares, and should be happy to work with you on something that seems fair.

The rest of the article has more useful tips, like how to talk down cab prices, cable and even new clothes. In the more intimidating business environments, don’t be afraid to ask to speak to a manager. It doesn’t have to be a confrontation; it’s just a request based on what you feel something is actually worth. And in all cases, just be reasonable. Ask for what you want and be courteous. If you enter into the above situations with confidence, ease, and a “Let’s Make a Deal” attitude, businesses won’t feel duped and neither will you.

But please…don’t try it with your coffee.

One Comment

  • I’ve tried to negotiate with my landlord a couple of times with no success. As low as the vacancy rate is in this city, there’s really no incentive for him to budge, despite the fact that I’m a good tenant. Or maybe I’m just a bad negotiator. Or both.