How Haggling Saved Me $1,200!

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Hey everyone, Mondays have officially become guest post Mondays. I’ve been reaching out to bloggers that I really enjoy following to see if they’re interested in sharing their stories with us. It’s been incredibly exciting as we’ve been adding more and more bloggers to the CNA Finance community. Today, we’ve got another awesome blogger with his first feature on CNA! Everyone meet Aldo from Million Dollar Ninja

Some people don’t like haggling or negotiating because they don’t want to come off as rude or disrespectful, but that’s because they haven’t mastered the art of haggling.  Okay, haggling might not be an art, but there is a right way to haggle and a wrong way to haggle.

Before we get into the right way to haggle and why you should always do it, let me first tell you a little bit about myself.

I come from the Dominican Republic and like in any third world country, haggling is the norm.  Granted, there are places where you just don’t haggle – restaurants and supermarkets – but everything else is up for negotiation.

I grew up watching my dad and just about every other person haggle for stuff.  However, when I came to the U.S. I noticed that nobody really haggled, so ever since then I just paid the asking price and moved on.

That was until I decided to buy a motorcycle.

I have always wanted a motorcycle.  There is just something about riding an iron horse that feels liberating.  And when two of my friends bought their motorcycles, I knew I HAD to get one – I couldn’t be left out.

I was in the U.S. for a few years at this point so my haggling skills were a little rusty, but since I didn’t have money to throw around I knew that I had to unleash the haggling beast once more.

Haggling is not that difficult, but you do have to be prepared.

Research, Research, Research

Before you start haggling, you need to know as much information as possible about whatever item you are trying to purchase.

I already knew which motorcycle I wanted because I had been doing my research all year.  I talked with motorcycle owners, went to internet forums, went to different dealerships and sat on the bikes to see how comfortable they felt for me, and I rented a few of them to see how they rode.

I knew I wanted a Vulcan 900… used.  My budget: $4,000.

I used Kelley Blue Book to get an idea of what an used Vulcan would cost. I started searching dealership websites from around the state and I hit Craigslist hard.  I was on Craigslist every day and they were plenty of bikes but they were all asking for more than $4,000.

And then I found a beautiful Vulcan 900 with very low milage listed for $4,000.  It looked great in the pictures and the price was right so I had to go see it.

Bring a Friend

Even if you are great at haggling, bringing a side kick could work to your advantage.

I was too emotionally involved in getting this bike – I really, really, really wanted this bike – and I knew that if I liked it I might have paid full price for it.  I asked my friend Tilak to come with me so he could help me haggle and be the voice of reason.

I discussed with him that I was willing to pay $3,500 for the bike, but was going to try to get it for less.  “No problem” he said “we’re going to get it for less.”

Try to Find Flaws but Don’t Be Disrespectful

You should inspect the item carefully and try to point out flaws in a respectful manner.  The best way to do this is to point and touch the flaw to make sure the seller knows you noticed, but don’t say anything – a good “hmm” should suffice.

Tilak and I walked around the motorcycle countless times inspecting every inch of it.  I must say that we couldn’t find anything wrong with it.  There was just a little scratch in the front fender but it was barely visible.  I still pointed at it and showed Tilak so the owner knew we had noticed.

Ask for At Least 30% Off

You could ask for more if you are bold, but 30% off is good enough to start negotiations.

When it was my turn to make an offer on the motorcycle I was going to offer to pay $3,000 – only 25% off – because the bike was in great condition and I wanted to take it right away.  I’m glad Tilak beat me to it and said “We’ll give you $2,500 for it.”

Even though I played it cool, in my head I was thinking “What are you doing?  He’s going to get kick us out of his driveway and send us home with nothing.”  But he didn’t.  He just stood his ground and said, “I’m sorry but I can’t do that.”

Bring Cash and Show It

If you flash some cash in front of the seller, you are more likely to get a deal.

Before we left to go see the motorcycle, I had separated my money into different amounts.  I was carrying $2,500 and Tilak was carrying the rest, but I told him to put $500 in one pocket and the rest in a different pocket.

When the motorcycle owner said he couldn’t sell it for $2,500, I took out all my cash and told him, “I have the money right here.  I can give it to you and take the bike home right now.”  When he saw all that cash, his whole demeanor changed.

He still couldn’t take $2,500 for it, but he did ask “Can you do a little better than that?”  I turned to Tilak and asked if he had any money that he could “lend” me.  I thought Tilak was going to say $500 but instead he said, “I only have $300 on me.” – I love Tilak. “$2,800 and we take this bike off your hands right now.” I said.

He thought about it for a second and said, “Deal.”

As you can see, haggling is not that difficult if you prepare yourself.  If you do it right, you can get a deal on almost anything.  Just remember to be respectful and do your research so you can ask for a reasonable amount.

So get out there and start haggling.  The worst it can happen is they say, “I’m sorry but I can’t do that.”  You might not get a deal every time, but if you get a deal some of the time it will help you save money.

26 COMMENTS

  1. I am pretty sure this article was written just for me. I am the worlds worst haggler. I’ll pay full price for anything just because I am afraid of insulting someone but these are great tips for me to try!
    Catina

    • Catina, you won’t be insulting them if you are polite. You can try asking for just a few dollars less if it makes you feel less confrontational. You might not get it every time, but you’ll be surprised at how often you get some type of deal.

      Most merchants expect hagglers so you won’t be the first or the last. But you won’t know until you try.

  2. What a great story about haggling. One of my best haggling stories is from years ago when I bought a videocamera. I found the camera I wanted for a pretty good deal at a big box store. When I went to compare prices at a smaller store, I told them the model and price I had seen. They did not have the same model, but sold me a better camera with more features for the same price the big box store offered. This upgrade was totally unexpected and made me a believer in haggling.
    I just found your blog and wish to subscribe. The subscribe link does not seem to work.

    • I did the same with my TV. Amazon had it for a lot less than the store but it was going to take a few days to ship, so I printed out the amazon prize and asked the clerk if he could match the prize, which he did.

  3. I wished that I enjoyed haggling as much as you, but I definitely understand that it is a necessary evil for saving money in some circumstances. And the ultimate tool in haggling, like you mention, is cash. Cash definitely is the ultimate secret to haggling success. Congrats on your saving!

  4. I got the car in my garage for about 1/2 of what the lady was asking for it on Craigslist. I made my cash offer by pushing a stack across the table. Seemed to work. 🙂

    Nice to meet you, Aldo.

  5. I think that’s exactly the right way to do it. I’m not sure I would have been able to offer that low of a starting amount, but it never hurts. Cash is king and it’s hard to let that walk, even if it isn’t the amount you thought you could get. Nice job!

  6. To be honest I feel uncomfortable haggling because I keep thinking that if I were in the seller’s position, I definitely would want to get as much money as possible… Nevertheless, since what you bought is an expensive item, I think it’s okay. After all, saving $1,200 is really nice indeed 😀

  7. Thanks for sharing this! I’m aware that the worst someone can say is no, but I’m always hesitant to ask for lower prices. It makes me sick to think about all the extra money I’ve paid for things over the years. $1,200 in savings is awesome!

  8. Great way to get the bike at less than the advertised price! I have learned to get over the fear of someone potentially telling me no and I have come out ahead a lot of time just by asking for a discount or offering to pay less.

  9. Great story Aldo,

    I love the idea of splitting the money up into different pockets. Genius!!!

    Sounds like your friend Tilak is a master negotiator.

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