Don't Pay More Than You Need To

8:49 PM

I was able to negotiate my salary up $7,000 as a fresh out of college grad for an entry-level job. It's possible, I swear.

When I was a little girl, my mother would take me to the local farmer's market. Without fail, there was never a time when she didn't try to negotiate the price of what she was buying. I remember being sorely embarrassed because there were prices written for the product she was trying to buy. Why was she trying to pay less?! It didn't seem right. I'd leave by her side huffing and complaining and telling her to stop trying to pay less than what she asked. She always laughed it off.

Fast forward a couple of years and I realized my mother was wise beyond my years and had saved my family a lot of money solely through her negotiating skills. I learned a lot about being responsible for your money and taking charge of it from her. It wasn't until recently that I realized I had learned these important life skills from her.

Important things my mother did that I have now caught on to:

  • Always check my receipt after shopping to make sure I have not been overcharged
  • Always check that the amount of money that has gone out of my checking account is the same amount on the bill 
  • Learn to sit for more than an hour on the phone to make sure I get my money back if I have been overcharged (and also learn how to squeeze out some benefits or a free product through this call) 
  • Negotiate a phone bill 
  • Negotiate rent 
  • Negotiate any price that is not held captive because it is a product of a large corporation 
Fast-forward a couple of years and I remember one negotiating experience I had that seemed like second nature to me. It was spring break and I was on a cruise to the Bahamas with a couple of my friends. We were on the island doing what most tourists do, look for things to buy. Sooner or later we found ourselves on the second floor of a back alley building looking at fake designer bags. 

Now, as a person who has regularly negotiated things in different environments this particular environment was not something that caused me discomfort. However, I could tell my friends were immediately intimidated but still intrigued by the idea of buying a fake designer bag for a cheaper price. 

One friend picked out a bag and the seller pronounced a price that was way too high for what anybody should expect for a fake designer bag. However, since my friend had never been in this kind of situation, what else could she do but reach into her bag for the cash to pay. I rushed to her side after hearing this number and negotiated fiercely with the seller. There was no way my friend would pay more than $30 for this bag, she would be losing money! The seller pulled out phrases like, "Please, I need to make money too" and "Be nice, let's be friends, be nice". 

Now, I am a sweet person by nature. I hate conflict and I don't argue with people. However, if there's one thing I do not stand for is paying more for something than what I know it's worth. And so I stood my ground and my friend saved money and we left happy. The seller may not have been as happy but I know for a fact that she still got a decent sell out of that bag. I'm not a monster! 

Negotiating is an important life skill that I believe many people don't put to practice. And I understand why, it's taboo in a way. It may seem cheap to try to pay less than what you are asked to. But, it's not like that. Negotiating is something you should start doing right away. Now there's a way to go about it. 

How to Negotiate

Now, I'm not a negotiating expert but I do know a few things about negotiating 
  1. Know when the situation is one where you indeed can negotiate 
    1. if you're buying from a garage sale or a farmer's market you can negotiate. If you're buying something from the mall chances are no matter how many times you try you'll simply bewilder and frustrate that young teen who is trying to explain to you that they cannot change the price for you
  2. Be fair, know your prices 
    1. Don't negotiate ridiculous prices. Go into a negotiation knowing how much you are willing to pay and how much others are willing to pay as well. With this information, if the price is way higher than these average prices, negotiate your heart out 
  3. Respect the person you are negotiating with 
    1. Stay respectful but firm. Now, notice I'm not saying to smile through the entire negotiation and laugh and make a big joke out of it. There's a time and place for that and many times during a negotiation is not one of them. But, do stay respectful. 
There's more where that came from. Let me know if you'd like another post on this topic, it's one I've never explored before so I'd love your input! 

Now, I have a question for you: Have you negotiated before? What did you negotiate for and what did you get out of it? 

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