Newswise — Winston-Salem N.C. -- According to the Federal Reserve, economic growth remains slow and signs point to continuing weakness. Unemployment rates remain elevated, and household spending has been increasing at only a modest pace. While this may affect your household budgeting, it could also work in your favor. Charles Lankau, a business professor and expert in negotiation at Wake Forest University, says in this economy, consumers should be assertive when shopping for just about everything.
These days retailers and service providers are willing to negotiate to get your business, says Lankau. “As a consumer in today’s economy, people need to ask themselves, ‘Am I about to spend some money?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ negotiating is almost always appropriate. Price, terms, perks or extras—most of the time they are there if you just ask.”
For those new to bargaining, Lankau offers the following tips:
Give yourself permission to negotiate. Bargaining is one of many valuable budget-stretching tools available. Use it.
Focus on the result, not on any misplaced embarrassment for asking. Think of how good it will feel if you get something for your efforts. Even if you are successful, it’s a win-win situation. In most cases, the seller will still be making a profit.
Touch a chord. Choose your words carefully to reach the emotional side of the person you are dealing with, for example: ‘I’m just not sure I can afford this. Can you do any better?’ Practice different approaches in the car to see how they sound.
Practice. Just like in sales, keep trying, and your ‘ask’ will improve.
Track your results. Keep a note card in your glove box and jot down every time you purchase an item for less than the asking price. It adds up! Seeing your savings grow is a great motivator.
Lankau says large purchases, like cars and homes, or competitive services for television or telephone, are expenses where people expect to negotiate, but deals can also be found in retail shops. “My mother never hesitated to point out a flaw, if there was one, in a blouse or sweater, and she almost always received at least a ten percent discount.”