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Money Management

The Art and Application of Haggling

You’d be surprised where you can save a few bucks.

The basic precept that governs a currency-based economy like ours is that everything has a flat and static dollar value. It’s not like in the olden days, where a farmer would walk up to a market stall and try to haggle the clerk down from, I dunno, ten shillings to five shillings for a bushel of apples or whatever. But while you can’t haggle at, say, the grocery store anymore, that doesn’t mean haggling is a dead art. It just means you have to be a little more creative with how and when you employ it.

Haggling comes into play more frequently when you’re either making single large payments or setting up some manner of recurring payment. For example, when you’re buying a cable package from your local provider, they’re probably only going to offer you a handful of static packages for flat prices. Thing is, though, they want your business, especially if they’re not the only game in town, so it is possible to manage a bit of wiggle room, provided you’re on their good side. If you talk to a representative over the phone, ask if you can remove or add certain features to get closer to the package you want. Chances are good that there may be an unlisted package that the company isn’t as forthcoming with.

The same logic applies with large purchases like renting hotel rooms. If you’re booking a stay somewhere when it’s not as busy, try to negotiate the price of your room down a bit. When business is slow, hotels and similar ventures are more willing to take whatever money they can get as long as it means getting your butt in a room. Of course, you need to keep your counteroffer realistic, usually within $50 or so.

On that note, a public service announcement: phone representatives won’t always be able to help you with these matters. Even so, be nice to them. Working customer service over the phone is an incredibly soul-crushing job.

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