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Every Last Penny Counts: 10 Tips on How to Haggle

Nov. 23, 2011
4 mins
A person drops a coin into a piggy bank while sitting at a table with a coffee

I have two friends, Ben and Jill, who both have the uncanny ability to sniff out a deal. And if they can’t sniff one out, they make their own. Seriously, I have never known anyone else to find deals like these two do. Take, for example, the kitchen appliances they found on Kijiji. Ben and Jill paid $325 for high-end, stainless steel Frigidaire models that would have cost them $3500. Not only that, but they sold their old ones for $500 and made a $175 profit.

I’d like to tell you that this is an isolated incident, but it’s not. Ben and Jill find deals like this ALL the time. Recently, they installed $4000 worth of kitchen cabinets for $1400. By buying the store out, they paid only $1.30 per square foot for hardwood, rather than the original price of $3.29 per square foot. They shop on Kijiji, at liquidation stores and attend auctions. They use coupons, discount sites like Wagjag and Groupon, and price match whenever possible.

Ben and Jill have saved a LOT of money by being smart hagglers.

Top 10 Tips on How to Haggle

Here are Ben and Jill’s top 10 tips on how to haggle yourself a deal:

1. Haggling does not make you cheap. It makes you savvy.

A good haggler doesn’t worry about what anyone thinks. To make the process easier, just focus on how much money you’ll be saving, not the act of haggling.

2. Do your research.

Many retail stores will match their competitors’ prices. Sometimes they’ll even beat them by a percentage. If you don’t know the competitions’ prices are, however, this will never happen. Be sure to bring the flier or a printout of your ad to the store with you. Walmart, for instance, will match any price in their grocery department. You can save yourself several trips and a lot of money simply by bringing the competitor’s prices to the store.

3. Look for the store’s clearance section.

Most stores have a clearance section for slightly damaged or open-box items. Sometimes the items on sale are last season’s wares and they just want to get rid of them. That’s how Ben and Jill got the hardwood for their floors. In exchange for taking the entire stock, Home Depot agreed to drop the already discounted price even further. Don’t assume that the clearance price is the final price.

4. Look for fliers and coupons.

There are all sorts of fliers and coupons available online. You can even Google an individual item and the words “coupon” or “deal,” and something will usually come up. A good haggler will always ask if there is a coupon available before buying.  Check out this recent article on Grocery Coupons for some great resources.

5. Ask about upcoming sales.

It might seem like a bold move, but a good haggler also asks about upcoming sales. I did this this weekend, actually. I saw something I really wanted, but found it slightly overpriced. I mentioned this to the cashier and asked if she thought it was going to be on sale anytime soon. She handed me a flier that advertised their upcoming, storewide sales.

6. Haggle privately.

Be discreet. The store is more likely to give you a deal if it’s just you. They certainly don’t want the entire store in on the deal.

7. Be polite.

Politeness will get you everywhere in the world of haggling. No one wants to do a favour for someone who is rude. Ask nicely. Smile. Say thank you.

8. Examine the product closely.

You’re looking for two things here – flaws and seasonal codes. If the product isn’t perfect, you can often haggle the price down for minor tears, dents and scratches. Look at the codes. If you can determine that the product is out of season there’s a good chance you can ask for a price decrease. If the product has just hit the shelves the likelihood of a deal is minimal.

9. Know the store’s policy.

This is a great one that I discovered recently. I bought the newest MacBook Pro, only to discover that the newest, newest MacBook Pro had been released a week later – for the same price. I was upset and decided to return to the store to see what they could do. The staff at Future Shop smiled and offered to either replace the product with the newer one, or give me $150 in exchange for keeping the older one. I opted to take the newer, faster model. 

10. Know when to quit.

Unfortunately, you’re not always going to get a deal. A good haggler always knows when to quit.  Just don't let a "No" deter you from asking next time.


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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