Learn to bargain before you buy these 3 big-ticket items — negotiating could save you thousands

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You negotiate your starting salary, your rent and your raises. Why stop there? In fact, companies are taking advantage of the fact that customers are averse to conflict — and have started using "no haggle" pricing for products like cars, which consumers have historically been able to bargain for. Alas, even if these set prices make shopping less stressful, you're likely paying more than you would have after haggling. 

If you want to walk out of the showroom with your head held high, do your research, drink a tall glass of courage and get ready to rumble. 

And "rumble" in this case, is asking the salesperson, politely, how they can help you get to a better price. That's not so scary, is it?

Here are three items you should always bargain for — and how to do it.

Haggling 101: How to get a bargain

In general, shop with independent retailers when you can, as Consumer Reports suggests. Self-owned entities will have more freedom to work with you on best prices in order to strike a deal.

And never ever buy into pressure from a salesperson who is creating a sense of urgency. You are the consumer, you walked into their store and you call the shots. Remember that any warning that a price will "expire" or a "deal will end" is a distraction designed to get you to buy. If it doesn't feel right, walk away. 

Avoid asking to bargain with a yes-or-no question — "Can we negotiate the price?" — which can easily be shut down. Instead, ask friendly, open-ended questions: "How could we get to a better price?"

That's a clear and direct but open-ended way to say, "Let's haggle." 

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Don't feel bad: You're not being overly demanding by simply asking if they can give you a better price. But also, you don't want to go in firing on all cylinders — demanding, for example, that a salesperson reduce their price by exactly $200. Keeping initial demands loose can only benefit you: Who is to say they won't eventually drop their price by $300 or $500? 

Be open to the possibilities. Because silence creates awkwardness, the less said the better, when negotiating price. 

Always bargain with your cable company

Never say yes to a cable bundle at the price it is offered to you. Negotiate. The heavy lift for your cable provider is in getting the hardware and installation into your home. Once that's in, the service is pretty cheap, according to Vox.

That means you have the upper hand in negotiations, especially with so many people cutting the cord and switching to streaming services like Netflix. Use your cable provider's desperation as ammo.

Begin negotiations with a simple statement like, "I'd like to cancel my account." Your likelihood of getting to the right person in the maze of customer service is greatly increased when you are ready and willing to walk away — but still open to the inevitable offers to retain you as a customer.

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You will probably be transferred to a representative tasked with keeping you as a customer — someone who has the power to wheel and deal.

According to the founders of Billfixers, a company that will call the cable company and work to get your cable bill reduced, retention representatives typically have the most authority to help haggle down a price.

"The best deals come from staff with the retention/cancellation department," Julian Kurland, founder of Billfixers, told Money. "Reps there have access to the best options.

Other tips? Know the going rate for what you're after — before you call. You can use as a reference what the rough rate is for a new customer in your area. This way, you will know if you're unlocking a deal or not.

Haggle with that auto salesman

The first price is never the best price when you are buying a car. It is just the place to start the negotiation. You will need to do your homework ahead of time to know the estimated value of your desired car, using trusted independent sources like Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds. You'll want to know the pricing terms as well.

Also: Before you arrive at the dealer, prepare by researching and setting up any financing on your own. Car dealers make a lot of money on financing through companies they work with; you'll save more by securing your own financing through a bank or credit union. Yet even if you have a plan in hand, keep that fact quiet until you're ready to talk turkey: You'll still need to negotiate the price before finalizing any financing.

Watch out. The salesperson will likely try to walk you toward a price based on a sale price off the sticker price or monthly payments. Do not go that way.

Source: SAFE4WORK/Giphy

Engaging with a salesperson about a "sale price" price or discussing how much you are willing or able to pay monthly for the car gives the seller too much of a lever, according to Consumer Reports.  

Once the seller knows how much you can pay a month, they can target that number to appease you, while increasing costs in other areas. That's why you should establish some ground rules, according to Consumer Reports.

Tell the salesperson you already know the make, model and trim-level of the car you want — and you have taken a test drive. Inform them you know how much the dealer likely paid for it, based on your research and on other local bids. You should have also already calculated how much you would like to pay for the car, with at least a small profit budgeted in for the dealership. 

Finally, tell the car salesperson that — if they can meet your target price — you would be happy to do the deal today. If not, say you will go elsewhere.

In short: Present your rock bottom price, and only then ask what the lowest mark-up on that price would be. While remaining friendly, confident and above all — well-informed — you may need to deflect efforts to move the discussion in a different direction. What about a trade-in? What about financing?

Hold your ground and say you will discuss those once a deal has been made on the price. And, remember, silence can be powerful. While you keep your eyes on your target price, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. There are other costs to car buying and they include your time and sanity. 

After all, if you find that one dealership is friendlier or more organized than another, the ease of the transaction may be worth a small difference in price.

Never pay sticker price for furniture

Buy a floor model — or pay in cash to get a deal on furniture. To get the floor model, you may have to stalk your credenza until it goes on the block, but once the store is ready to move it off the floor you can snag it for as much as half off. And offering to pay in cash is always a good opening salvo toward negotiating.

Seriously, you do not want to be caught paying sticker price for furniture. Many sellers mark up their goods by 80% or more, according to Marketwatch

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And furniture stores generally pay their employees commission on what they sell. This can be, typically speaking, 2% to 10% of sales. 

So if you let a salesperson know that you like a certain item — but you are not in a position to buy it at its current price — they might have the wiggle room of the mark-up (which may or may not be in their control) and their commission (which is in their control).

To keep you from walking out the door — so that they get paid something, rather than nothing they will likely make an effort to work with you. Extras like upholstery treatments, assembly and delivery and can drive up the "out the door" cost of furniture, so be sure those on the negotiation table, too.

Who knows: You might drive a successful bargain and land yourself a brand new table for negotiations, when all is said and done.

Sign up for The Payoff — your weekly crash course on how to live your best financial life. Additionally, for all your burning money questions, check out Mic’s creditsavingscareerinvesting and health care hubs for more information — that pays off.

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Anna Bahney

Mic Money writer in Washington DC covering the daily saga of getting and spending. Toss tips my way at abahney@mic.com

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