5 Things You Can Haggle For

We show you the secrets of saving big on electronics, mattresses, gym memberships, rent and even financial guidance.

If you are anything like me, the prospect of having it out with a store clerk over a few bucks sets off your internal “fight or flight” response. My pulse quickens, my face gets hot and my brain goes fuzzy. If I were a Neanderthal, I’d be halfway across Eurasia by now. But instead of fleeing, I’m avoiding eye contact with the clerk at Macy’s and watching my credit card get swiped for the full price when I know I could have gotten 20% off if I’d Only. Just. Asked.

The good news is that a little preparation can steel your nerves, and if you’ve done your research, a few words may be all it takes to score a discount. Allan Stark, a bargaining guru who makes a living negotiating on other people’s behalf (www.negotiate4u.net), counsels consumers to keep it light -- and humorous -- to relax customer-service reps. If they aren't willing to budge, don't push them until they get hostile.

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Elizabeth Leary
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Elizabeth Leary (née Ody) first joined Kiplinger in 2006 as a reporter, and has held various positions on staff and as a contributor in the years since. Her writing has also appeared in Barron's, BloombergBusinessweek, The Washington Post and other outlets.