Smart negotiation will pay its way in securing a bargain

One of the things I really don't enjoy about shopping in overseas markets is haggling. Maybe it's because there is an expectation there will be haggling over every purchase that the whole concept seems to be exhausting.

One of the things I really don't enjoy about shopping in overseas markets is haggling. Maybe it's because there is an expectation there will be haggling over every purchase that the whole concept seems to be exhausting.

That's not to say I don't love a bargain. I would just rather not have to jump through the hoops of having to haggle every time I want to purchase something as basic and simple as a piece of fruit.

In Australia we're trained not to haggle. It's simply not the done thing to ask if we can get a better deal. Sure, we'll shop around and compare prices, but unless it's a big-ticket item like a house or a car, we'll simply pay the asking price.

The thing is, with many products and services, it often pays to ask if there is a better deal to be had. I'm not talking grocery items, clothing or a lower price for cash. I am, however, talking about a range of products and services on which you can potentially receive a better deal if you simply ask.

Some suggestions of tried and tested deals to be had are:

Any retailer that is offering interest-free or buy-now, pay-later terms That's because in most cases the retailer has built the cost of the finance into the price of the item. So if you're shopping in a store that offers some type of financing and you're going to be paying upfront for the item, always ask if that's the best price they can do.

Where you can buy the item cheaper online Sure, the retailer with a shop front might not be prepared to match the price, but they might be willing to meet you part-way. However, if you're not prepared to wait for the item or if the retailer is offering other services you believe are valuable, then the slightly more expensive item might be more attractive.

If you're shopping for a home loan It can be a worthwhile exercise to annually compare the interest rate on your home loan as compared with other banks and credit unions. If you find a cheaper rate, then determine if there are charges involved in swapping. But before you do, ask your bank if they would be prepared to lower their rate to match the cheaper rate offered by a competitor.

If you're shopping for a savings account Again, it can be a worthwhile exercise to not simply roll over your term deposit each time it comes up for renewal but to shop around to ensure you're receiving the best interest rate. Also, challenge the rate being offered by asking your bank if that's the best they can do.

If you make a large purchase with a retailer Maybe you've purchased a new wardrobe and your local boutique has benefited from your splurge. Perhaps you are placing a large order with your butcher for a party you are having at the weekend. It pays to ask if they would be prepared to offer you a deal for what you have spent. Often this will mean a discount, a voucher or an additional product as a thank-you.

Asking if there is a better deal to be had will feel uncomfortable for many of us. That's because it's not how we've been trained to shop. You're not going to do it every time you shop, but start to dip your toe in with the situations above and you'll discover that haggling, when done strategically, can be a very worthwhile practice.

Melissa is an accountant, adviser, author and shoe addict. Twitter: melbrowne_

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