Lessons Learned Growing Up On The Farm – The Art of Price Haggling

I’ve written previously how we enjoy garage sales and hunting for bargains. A crucial part of getting deals is knowing how to haggle. It is a skill worth honing because in essence many financial transactions require some type of negotiation. Over the years, we’ve haggled prices on cars, homes, and medical bills to name just a few. The more skilled you are at haggling, the better you’ll fare at getting price reductions.

I grew up in a family of farmers so I learned the basics early - never pay full price and always haggle. It seems like nearly every purchase was negotiated and bargained for - farm equipment from the local tractor store, milk from an uncle’s dairy farm, vegetables from the farmer’s market. Whatever it was, I enjoyed watching my Dad go through his method for getting the best deal and I apply those now in my own negotiations:

1. First, I determine what I want and set a dollar value of how much I am willing to spend. This is a crucial step because it will come into play later when the negotiations are heating up. Sometimes I give myself a spending range; I aim for the lowest price but will accept a price any where in the range. If you are shopping at a garage sale, know what you are looking for and know how much you are willing to spend. This obviously will require some adjustment if you are just browsing for good deals and are not looking for a specific item. But the basics remain - always strive to pay less.

2. When I find something I want, I do not make a big deal of it. I don’t let my emotions show that I really want this item, even if it is something that I’ve been searching a long time for. A simple question gets the haggling started, “how much do you want for this?” This establishes a basis for the future negotiation of the price. Alternatively, if I am having a garage sale, my answer to this question is “make me an offer.”

3. Make a counter offer. Now the actual numbers are exchanged. Don’t rush this step. Give them time to respond. Become comfortable with silence.

4. If I really am unable to negotiate to an acceptable price, I just say “no thanks” and walk away. Sometimes they will lower their price and sometimes they won’t. This is where step 1 comes into play - I know the actual dollar amount I am willing to spend and if I can’t negotiate to that price, I walk away.