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Price Negotiating Is a Lost Art


I traveled to Turkey for spring break one year in college and was quickly overwhelmed by a trip to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Imagine 60 streets with 5,000 shops that draw up to 400,000 visitors daily. Every item had a price tag on it but you’d be an idiot to pay that price. If it wasn’t for friends who spoke Turkish, I would have paid the full $20 for a scarf instead of walking out with 3 for $30. I’m not an aggressive person as I shared in my previous article about our car insurance mess up, so I was thankful to return home to stores that had set prices.

My mom, on the other hand, would thrive at the Grand Bazaar. We’ve been settling into our new home for the past week and have had to purchase a few things. I recently shared with my mom that we were going to need a couch. The following day I got about 10 emails from her with different couches for sale on Craigslist. We found a like-new sectional that had to cost over $2,000 new and my mom swiped it for $750 by offering to pick it up that day with cash. I wrote a check and thanked her for her business.

Shortly after this purchase, the discussion came up that with all of our floors being hardwood, we’d probably look into getting an area rug for the living room. The next day my mom calls me from Lowes:

“I found a beautiful 8’x10’ rug that was $358 and now it’s half off for $179! What do you think?”

I shared that the price was a little more than we wanted to spend so she left the store without the rug. My mom wasn’t able to get a good picture of the rug in the store so I looked it up online just to see what she had found. It was actually listed at $225 online but no clearance price. I casually shared that observation with my mom and the next day she went back to Lowes and talked to the manager.

“This rug is half off the original price BUT the original price online says $225. Will you take half price of that? $112?”

The manager settled for $125 and now we have a beautiful giant area rug in our living room to go with our new sectional.

I didn’t even realize you could negotiate prices in stores like Lowes! It wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to think of the responses my mom had. It’s one thing for me to teach my clients how to eat healthy on a budget, but I won’t be the first to tell you how to negotiate prices at the farmer’s market. I’m often too quick to agree with the price tag and don’t think twice to make a lower offer. Negotiating is one of those timeless skills learned from observation and practice. Now that I actually pay for my own stuff I pay much closer attention to how my parents negotiate prices! I hope to get better at this skill and pass it down to my own kids some day. If only there was a Negotiating 101 class I could sign up for…

What kind of deals have you obtained by successful negotiating? 

This has been a guest post from Jessica. She is a Registered Dietitian and shares practical, useful tips on food, fitness, and finance. Be sure to subscribe to her blog, Budget For Health.



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. I’m hoping you enjoyed that trip to Turkey. I haven’t made it to Istanbul yet even after all those years living in Europe. Thailand and India which I have been to work on the same price structure. Ask how much it is to begin with and then haggle even if it means walking away. If the vendor is interested in the deal they’ll plead for you to come back, but don’t keep pushing the price though, there is still a difference between a fair price and daylight robbery.

  2. Turkey was a beautiful place to visit! I have family who have visited Thailand and said the same. Figuring out when to walk away when negotiating is a difficult thing for me to do. I never know how low to start either- I don’t want to low-ball someone and get punched in the face 😉

  3. There is a time where negotiating is appropriate, and where it is not. I have a small jewelry business; when doing shows, and someone attempts to get me to negotiate my prices, I take it very personally. I have slaved to create the individual handmade piece, price it to what it should be priced; I don’t build in a negotiation value, which bazaars and flea markets do. Depending on how much a person buys I have been known to eat the cost of taxes (which would amount to an 8.125 discount in my area), but not often.

    • That would be frustrating. Some people seem to have their negotiating hat on wherever they go, even if it’s not a setting where prices are negotiated (like yours).

    • Uh oh Nancy… I think I’m your most hated person. I look for a deal everywhere I go! If I pay the asking price, I feel like I’m getting hosed. If, however, you built in a 10% buffer in your price and gave me 10% off, I would feel okay about it. I’m sure the same principle holds for all of my other Dutch friends out there. 😉

  4. You have consider the environment you are in. Artists and crafters don’t expect to negotiate, at least in my experience.

  5. My most successful negotiations have been accidental ones.

    Like the time I went to buy a new vacuum at Sears. The price tag was hand written and was apparently for $175 but without the “$”, I thought it said $75. Got it for $75 as long as I paid the $20 for a 2 year “extended warranty”.

    Sold it a few years later for $100, so almost broke even taking the time value of money into account.

    • Wow! That worked out well! I bet the employee spent a little more effort writing clearly after that situation. I’m not sure it would have been my reaction to ask if I could still have it for $75 anyway; well done taking the initiative.

  6. I am happy to haggle over prices. I even hit ’em up at the grocery store if I notice that they ring-up the wrong price. In our state, we get the item at half price if that happens. Sometimes I get the item for free because no one wants to deal with the mispriced item. That sucks for other people that don’t pay attention, but there’s not much I can do about that.

    • I tend to watch what the cashier enters for certain products like produce since there can be various codes entered. How did you find out about the policy of getting an item half price?? That’s state-wide? That would be quite an incentive for stores to train cashiers better!

    • Half price?! That’s crazy! I would watch every single item!

  7. I hate to haggle. I’m not sure why but the whole process just grinds my gears. I make up for it though by having a few professional hagglers as good friends. Whenever I make a big purchase I get their help to find a good deal. I would rather bribe them with a good dinner than do the haggling myself.

  8. I love your mom! Can she be my shopping buddy for everything?

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