Home » Haggling for a Bargain: An Introduction

Haggling for a Bargain: An Introduction


Happy Thursday, friends!!  Welcome back Kyle from Rather-Be-Shopping for another super helpful, money saving article.  Thanks, Kyle, and congrats on the NY Times article!

This past Monday, myself, along with my website Rather-Be-Shopping.com, were lucky enough to be included in a front page article of The New York Times. Believe it or not, the article was about haggling, some might call it “negotiating”, a better price at retail stores, even at high-end stores like Nordstrom. Haggling for a better price has become the new “black” in recent months it seems. If you do it right, and have a solid strategy in place, you can start haggling successfully today. Here is my best advice on getting started.

Assume Everything is Negotiable

Clearly everything is not negotiable, but this has to be your mindset. Obviously, you won’t get very far in the grocery store trying to get the produce manager to drop 50 cents off your avocado purchase, but when you walk into any big-box store, you have to put your negotiating hat on.

Look for Imperfect Items

The first thing you’re going to want to do is look for reasons to ask for a discount. Without a decent reason, you’re likely to strike out every time. I like to look for items that have some cosmetic damage to the packaging or are otherwise “dinged” up. Store managers know they’ll have a hard time getting rid of stuff like this at full price so ask for a discount, you’ll probably get it. Start at 25% off and negotiate downward. I always start with a sales associate and try to get them on your side. They typically have to get approval from a supervisor so be patient and extremely friendly and work with them, not against them.

Quantity Discount Strategy

Buying more than one high ticket item? Always ask for a quantity or bundle discount. Call it whatever you want, it flat out works in many cases. Real life example time: Last year I was in our local Best Buy and was about to purchase a TV and Bluray player and on a whim I asked the sales associate if I could get $150 off if I walked out with both items today. He was like, “Never hurts to ask, let me go ask my manager if that is a possibility.” Within 5 minutes he was back in front of me with a price adjustment slip. Easiest $150 I ever made. But here is the key: I had really chatted up the sales associate and built a relationship with him. He was a really cool guy, very knowledgeable, and so when I asked him about the discount I think he genuinely wanted to try and help me out. A little friendliness goes a really long way when negotiating a better price.

Use Technology to do Your Research

Many big-box stores now offer pretty liberal price match policies. Best Buy, for example, has even started to match online pricing from stores like Amazon.com and Crutchfield.com. So be sure to do your homework before you go asking for a better price. If the store you are at is already the lowest price available anywhere, it will be much harder to haggle than if their price is higher than the competition. Use smartphone apps like the RedLaser app to quickly scan the barcode of the product to determine how much negotiating power you might have. Start by inquiring about the stores price matching policy, if they do indeed price match then ask if they’ll beat the competition by 10%. Hey, you have nothing to lose, the worst thing they can say is “No”.

Call and Negotiate Monthly Bills

The next time you are paying your monthly cable TV or phone bill, stop for a minute and call them up and ask for a better rate. With cable and satellite TV companies you can threaten to switch to the competition and they’ll quickly get you to the “loyalty department” and start throwing all kinds of great offers at you to keep you on-board as a loyal customer.

The key is to just get started. As you start to have some success haggling, your confidence will build and you’ll get better at finding opportunities to negotiate a better price. Heck, this is how I did it and now I’m being quoted as a so-called “expert” in The New York Times. If only they knew the truth…

Now on to some of the better coupons from our site. No haggling required to get these deals…


About The Author: Kyle James is the founder of the coupon website Rather-Be-Shopping.com and also writes a blog about frugal living and out-of-the-box ways to save money.


  1. Great tips! I think the most important thing is to just ask. I need to get better about that (although these days I buy so much online that I don’t spend much time at retailers!) Thanks for the info.

  2. Hey Kyle and thanks for the neat haggling tips 🙂

    As I buy practically everything from thrift shops I feel that I am already getting a great deal so I put my haggling on hold. However, I have used the “it’s cheaper at your competition” argument and have gotten a discount on things…but it’s been a long time since I did that.

    There is obviously an art to haggling and it looks like you got it down nicely! Well done.

    Take care and happy holidays to you and yours 🙂


  3. I always try haggling my internet bill down after they increase the price. Unfortunately the loyalty department won’t let give me any wiggle room until February. Maybe they got sick of me calling every time they tried contacting me over the phone, or sent me junk snail/e-mail? 🙂

  4. These are all solid negotiation strategies. I advise new negotiators to be “greedier” than they think would be appropriate. You want to leave yourself room in a negotiation, so if you are aiming to get a 25% discount and think you ought to start at 35% (so as not to offend the other party), be a little greedier and start at 50% or 40%. Leave yourself room. You’ll often be surprised in how often the greedier number gets accepted.

  5. Great post…we as consumers don’t realize how much power we have. The stores what our business and will often gives us a better deal. I haven’t negotiated at big box stores, but will try out your ideas. I’m still kicking myself for not driving a harder bargain when we furnished our entire apartment. We spent a lot…I’m sure the furniture WANTED our business! I need some negotiating lessons.

  6. E.M. says:

    Congrats on being featured in the NY Times! These are great tips. One of my cousins asked for a GPS for Christmas from my grandma, and I looked up the price on Amazon. It was $10 cheaper than Best Buy, so my grandma went there and asked if they could match their price. They did! She usually doesn’t like dealing with online stores so it’s nice they’re doing that now.

  7. Congrats on the NY Times piece Kyle – that’s awesome! I agree, pretty much anything can be negotiated given the right circumstance. I’ve changed my outlook on this over the years as being much more comfortable in doing it. I view it as simply asking the question and being nice about it. It certainly doesn’t work every time, but I’d say it works at least 50% of the time – and I’ve been able to “convert” my wife to haggling as well. 🙂

  8. A pro tip from a former Target employee- If you find something with a defect, the store will automatically go down about 10%, but you could probably get it to about 60% off with the right manager! Always talk to the manager first- not just the check out line.

  9. Matt Becker says:

    Monthly bills are INCREDIBLY negotiable. That’s a place where it’s really pretty easy to save a ton of money. I haven’t tried getting discounts based on dinged packaging before, but it sounds like it’s worth a shot.

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