Newlywed Series Part 1 :: How to Haggle

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.

The first car I bought myself (and haggled for). I remember being so proud of my little car. Ahh… I still miss that little beetle. Every time I saw my little beetle, I couldn’t help but smile. :)

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.

Posing for pictures on the furniture you want to purchase is definitely not the way to make a deal. Luckily we were just researching that day!

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)?

9 Comment

  1. Hannah says:

    Its called moving to Tanzania. I spent 5 months haggling every day over everything from my breakfast fruit to a great pair of earrings… in Swahili.

    These are great suggestions, and I follow almost all of them! Especially the cash one. I took our grad negotiations class and it really hit home to how much we haggle on a daily basis (usually unknowingly, and in those cases we’re usually screwed!).

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kimberly, Kimberly. Kimberly said: Join us on our journey in haggling! http://bit.ly/fAOV4y […]

  3. Shannon says:

    These are all great tips! I have recently broke through my shell and started haggling. Great place to practice – the Flea market. Items are small and generally inexpensive so if you slip up and buy too high due to item infatuation, you don’t lose too much dough. Oh and you are spot on with the cash remark – people will drop to unreasonably low prices if cash if offered!

    I don’t know why I had a shell to break free from, I’m only shy around new people. But, I am also very determined, always know how much I want something for and nowadays, will get it 90% of the time. I think my problem was that I didn’t think people were open to haggling – boy was I wrong!!

    Great post!!

  4. Abby says:

    THANK YOU for this post! Hubs and I aren’t very good at negotiating/haggling — when we bought our own sectional last year we….well, we paid full price. I’m so ashamed that we did it, but for some reason I was afraid to haggle (thinking they might laugh at me or something ridiculous like that). We’re in the market for a new TV stand, and were planning on hitting up a furniture sture this weekend. I vow not to make the same mistake twice!

  5. Lauren says:

    This is definitely one of the best articles I’ve read ANYWHERE in awhile. Great advice! I’m definitely going to refer back to this the next time I’m in a situation that calls for haggling.

  6. Anyone in the market for a new (to you) living room?

    http://gainesville.craigslist.org/fuo/2224570192.html

    We’ll cut you a deal… if you’re willing to haggle for it… otherwise we might screw you over. No, really, I kid, we’re reasonable people.

  7. Brandi says:

    I’m the daughter of an auto mechanic – and my daddy taught me well. I’m pretty good at getting good rates on anything auto related, and I know when dealerships/repair shops are pulling scams. I also never pay to have my oil changed. Ever. It’s way too easy to do yourself (but luckily, I have a husband who actually thinks it’s pretty fun anyway!).

  8. Erin says:

    I have been working on my haggling skillz lately so these are some good tips! I dont know why I thought you shouldnt haggle at a new furniture store! My previous skills consisted of flirting my way to a better deal (this only works on men…) but I probably shouldn’t do that any more! Oo love the sectional 2!!

  9. This is a great post. I must say, I am much older than you and I certainly wasnt haggling when I was 17…I think thats so great and wish I had known enough to. Also in addition to haggling, don’t be afraid to ask for available discounts. This weekend I was quoted 269.00 for one night in one of my favorite hotels in a neighboring city. I politely asked if they had any discounts for Florida residents…they went to check…and came back at 129…woohoo…sold!!!!!Make sure you are talking to someone in house to ask for this, not the 800 number:)

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