of a smart shopper
You can negotiate
the price on just about everything you want to buy. Who knew?
Sandler does. He's the author of Secrets
of the Savvy Consumer, a helpful handbook that walks shoppers through
buying everything from a house to a sweater for Mom -- and saving a bundle.
whole point to saving money is being a savvy shopper, says Sandler. "A savvy consumer
makes the same money as the person next door, but they live better than the other
So before you hit the mall or the car dealer, consider
Learn to buy, not be
"Know when to buy, how to buy it and where to buy it," Sandler
says. "It's not about being cheap. It's about devoting yourself to research to
get more for your money."
Determine what items are out of season
and go in for the deal, Sandler says. For example, while everyone is shopping
for wreaths and sweaters, talk to the store manager for deals on a new barbecue
grill or air conditioner. Or when everyone's trying on bathing suits, check out
a new pair of snow skis.
"The store is going to have to put
these items in storage, but they'd rather make a lower profit on you. All you
have to do is ask," Sandler says.
Making the best purchase
also includes understanding the retailer's mark-up strategy. Appliances are generally
marked up 15 percent and books 50 percent to 100 percent. Understanding the profit
margin puts you in control of the deal.
The best deals are
found at stores with variety, quality merchandise, fair prices and a good return
policy, he says.
The rules of supply
and demand work in your favor
"Tell yourself, 'I'm going to buy when
the dealer's anxious to get rid of it,'" Sandler says.
walk into a store and see 15 of the same item lingering on the rack, make a deal
with the salesperson or manager -- especially if you plan on buying more than
one item or plan to pay in cash.
This also works great when
you're ready to purchase a car. Wait until the end of the day, end of the month,
end of the year, or the lousiest weather you can stand, and you'll have salesmen
crawling at your feet, desperate to earn their commissions.
this same strategy when everyone else is busy buying stocking stuffers. The holidays
are a prime time to get a great deal on a washer and dryer, or dishwasher. Those
poor schmoes in the appliance department are kicking the dust, looking for the
best way to put presents under their tree. The best way is to make a deal with
Use the Internet to your advantage
Great deals don't evaporate when you go online. Sandler says the rules still apply
when you are dot-com-ing a shopping list. In fact, the Internet gives you added
power by putting research at your fingertips.
The rules of supply and demand and finding the best bargain are applicable at
online stores as well. Call the customer service number or send an e-mail and
negotiate your way to a bargain.
Online stores have a lower
overhead, and, therefore, they've got a bit more leeway when negotiating. If they
won't cut you a deal on prices, ask for free shipping. Don't be afraid to pit
& Noble. "These stores are trying to buy their market share," Sandler
says. "Troll through the sites, and look for specials," especially during the
However, Sandler warns against trusting shopbots
to fetch the best prices. "I think they are a good idea, but I don't think they're
there yet. I'd rather find the best price for myself.
to invest your time. Put a price on it. If you spend two hours to save $1 on a
book, then it's not worth it, but if you save $200, then you've paid yourself
$100 an hour."
Ask and ye might receive
"You're not going to get a deal if you don't ask. The worst they can say is 'no,'
" Sandler says.
Sometimes the salesperson doesn't have the
power to make a deal, but before you scour the aisles looking for Monty Hall,
ask for a manager.
To negotiate well, be well-informed --
and willing to walk away, Sandler says. "In most cases, the negotiating power
lies with the person with the money to spend."
doesn't mean having a bad attitude, though. "Be assertive, but there's no need
to be nasty. Have respect for yourself and who you're dealing with," Sandler says.
Negotiate for the best deal when you're
If you're able to plan around big shopping and traveling
days, the ball's in your court. And you don't have to take the first volley that
For example, Sandler was traveling with his family
over the Thanksgiving holiday. The flight back from London was overbooked, and
British Airways was begging passengers to give up their seats. Sandler stepped
up with his family's four tickets. He turned down the airline's first offer and
kept negotiating until his family received $3,000 in airline credits and a free
night in London, including meals.
"Speak knowledgeably on a
professional level that shows that you know how they do business," Sandler suggests.
"Don't plan on paying the list price or taking the first offer. You can find it
in a better place, time or way. You'll know that you got a good deal when you're
happy with what you pay."