The Newlywed Series is a series of posts on tips and advice on working together as team with your spouse. This can range anywhere from tips on how to haggle (as we are addressing in this post), how to deal with the holidays and in-Laws, how to manage your finances as a united couple, how to actively save for vacations/large purchases/etc., among many other topics. If you have a specific topic that interests you, please leave it in the comments! All posts will come from our first-hand experience and the first-hand experience of others.
I remember the first time I ever had to haggle. I was 17 years old and about to purchase my first car. The car was listed at $8,000 (a beautiful white VW Beetle). I fully expected my Dad to take over, haggle with the young lady selling the car (via Autotrader) and get me a sweet deal, as I’d always seen him do with furniture, cars, well… just about everything. Little did I know that my Dad had other plans.
After test driving the car in a parking lot, my Dad informed me that he would be hanging out by our car while I walked over and made a deal with the owner. I was terrified. I wasn’t sure what to say, but I knew the owner wanted it sold (as she had already ordered a brand new Jeep Liberty). I told her that I only had $7,000 to spend. She offered $7,500 and I took it. I was so please with myself for saving $500! Little did I know that I could have probably made an even better deal if I had tried harder, had a better poker face, and pointed out problems with the car (which later cost me well over $1k to fix).
Anyways, it was a good lesson in haggling. Since then I’ve learned a few things about haggling:
- Always be prepared to walk away. If the price isn’t right, or what you are willing to spend. WALK AWAY. Do it. You’ll thank me later.
- Never tell them (or show them through body language) that you are in LOVE with the item. My Mom and I used to drive my Dad crazy doing this. We would fall in love with a couch, lay all over it, say how PERFECT it is, and proclaim that we couldn’t live without it. Which… made it pretty hard for my Dad to make a deal. This usually resulted in my Mom and I walking out all pouty face and my Dad saying “I told y’all to play cool.”
- Always haggle in appropriate places. Car dealerships, furniture stores, thrift stores, private sellers, etc. are great places to haggle. Never walk out of these stores paying the retail price. With a little bit of work you can get a great deal. Do not haggle at Walmart, Target, the Mall, etc. These are NOT places to haggle. I think this is a bit obvious, but just felt that I should put it on record that I said it.
- Have a game plan/do your research. Make sure you and whoever you are shopping with (boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, etc.) know exactly what you want and are willing to pay. Research online and see if there are better deals online (or comparable deals). If there are, print those out and bring them with you to help with your haggling. Tell the associate that you’d really like to deal with them and spend your money with them, but if they can’t get the price where you are looking to be, you can go elsewhere.
- Pay cash. Saying you will pay cash, on the spot, makes people go cray cray. They don’t have to pay credit card fees when processing your payment, or wait for their money while you go through a payment plan. They get their money right there, on the spot. This is often a great way to bring the price down.
- Realize the owner’s price is usually marked up 100%, fully expecting you to haggle. When you don’t haggle, they win!
- Silence is your best friend. When associates come back with a counter offer. Stay silent, like you’re pondering. Never say too much. Be a little mysterious. Silence makes people uncomfortable, so they may be more inclined to lower their price (or offer some other deal) the more silent you are. Crazy, but it works.
- Leave the more emotional spouse/partner out of the negotiations. The emotional spouse/partner should be silent and act indifferent. When Mr. Knight and I were purchasing his pick-up truck at the Nissan dealership, I told the associate to deal directly with me. Make sure you both know what role you each will take. He must make a deal with me. Of course, the associate kept saying “but your husband really wants this car, don’t let him leave without it.” But, I was determined (and told him) I would leave if they couldn’t get our monthly payments (and car total) down to a certain amount. At the very end, when we were about to “make the deal” I told him that the car had to be washed before we left the lot, and have a full tank of gas (worth $60+). He told us he couldn’t get us a full tank of gas, but as soon as I got up to walk out, he figured it out and drove our car to the gas station across the street and filled it up.
- Point out flaws. Sure, you think that new dining room set is the most beautiful you’ve ever seen… absolutely perfect. The key is to not let anyone know this is how you feel! Point out the flaws – not big enough, not the right color, there is a chip here, a stain there, you’re not crazy with the pattern of the seat cushions… whatever you can think of. If I had only done this with my first car purchase, I could have easily saved another $500-$1000 because there ended up being a TON of flaws I had to get fixed (sagging headliner, stained seats, etc), but I was so infatuated and in LOVE with the car, I didn’t see the flaws. I just knew I wanted it.
- Purchase more than 1. This only works in some instances. It is certainly a great route to go if you are looking to purchase 2 cars, or multiple pieces of furniture. The more you take off their hands, the more space in their inventory they will have, the more $$$ in their pockets and the better deal they can cut. Plus, it leaves them more to lose if you walk away from the deal.
So, why am I reviewing this all for you? Well… Mr. Knight and I are about to haggle for a new sectional and I know that just the word “haggle” can make people cringe and uncomfortable.
I used to shy away from it, but when I saw the savings you can get with just a little hard work, I knew it was something I had to learn more about and practice. Of course 20 years of watching my Dad do it has helped quite a bit. Did you know we went on a vacation to Hickery, SC just to visit the furniture mart? Yes, we’re out of control, I know. But, it really was a big lesson for me (as must as I hated spending 9 hours in a furniture mart, seeing my parents work an hour to make a deal, then just walk away and into another store).
We will still need to sell our current living room set, save a little more $$$ and work on our haggling skills (we plan to practice at a few different places). Wish us luck!
So this is Part 1 in our haggling series. We thought it would be fun to let y’all follow along with us as we haggle (and hopefully purchase) our first piece of furniture as a married couple. I hope these tips help you and give you a little more confidence to try some of these tactics. In the end, I always say, the worst they can do is say “no” and stick to their price!
Do y’all have any tips on haggling? Are there any places I missed that are great places to haggle (and fully expect you to haggle)?