The Fine Art Of Haggling

Written by on May 7, 2013 in Money - No comments | Print this page

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The fine art of hagglingWhen looking to cut your expenses, making small savings here and there quickly adds up to a significant amount of money.

Obviously, making savings on big purchases will contribute in a sizable way to becoming debt free too, but being able to drive a hard bargain and get the best deal is essential no matter what you are buying.

It’s often the case that British people don’t know how to haggle, seeing it as something that is more commonly done abroad, or people simply don’t know when they can be financially stubborn.

Phone contracts

One of the major outgoings that households have to cope with is mobile phone contracts, as these have become part and parcel of family life for people.

Therefore, being able to drive a hard bargain and secure the best possible deal for yourself can save a good deal of cash each month, especially if you are a loyal customer.

Firms never want to lose customers, especially to a rival, so don’t be afraid to ask for a more competitive rate and always ensure you do your research as to what other firms can offer.

You can generally take companies’ lowest offers with a pinch of salt, especially when you can present them with better deals that rivals have available, so don’t be afraid to stick to your guns.

Energy

While haggling is acceptable for phone companies, one area where it perhaps should be avoided is when it comes to energy plans.

These have been reformed recently to avoid a repeat of the situation which has left millions of homes in energy-related debt and top haggler Martin Lewis says it’s best to avoid bargaining with these sort of firms.

“I’m a big fan of haggling but I would not recommend it with energy companies,” he told the Daily Mirror earlier this month.

“When you call and ask to be put on their cheapest tariff it’s not transparent, they can’t simply quote a price as the prices-per-unit and charges are so difficult to work with. Treat what energy companies say with a great deal of scepticism.”

Mr Lewis, from moneysavingexpert.com, went on to say that the market is currently in a state of flux, with plenty of problems within it, and said people should consider switching.

“Do a comparison to find the cheapest possible tariff. The impact can be enormous. A typical annual bill for a standard tariff is around £1,420 per year. The same usage on the cheapest tariff is £1,140,” he added.

“If you haven’t switched within the last year, you need to.”

Remaining on the subject of energy bills, Mr Lewis explained that there can be savings available if you choose to pay by Direct Debit.

“Monthly Direct Debits include a discount of up to five per cent so you are paying less for your energy and it’s substantially cheaper than paying on a scheme such as pre-payment,” he said.

“But while Direct Debits give you the cheapest rates, the problem with them is that your bills are based on estimated values over a year.”

Ordinary shops

As you may expect, large chain stores and supermarkets are not the place to be haggling.

You are much more likely to be able to bargain with shop owners if, firstly, they are small, or one-off stores, and secondly, if you are buying in a reasonably large amount.

Firms will generally be able to do a small discount if you are able to buy in bulk but won’t go along with any requests to cut prices for just a small amount of goods.

In terms of a monthly budget and being able to cut costs, haggling won’t be something that you can do regularly across all your expenditure.

It’s best to go through what you spend each month and work out which outgoings can be reassessed. Then, if they can, set about renegotiating, if you are in a position to do so.

Don’t simply disregard haggling because it can be done, provided you know the establishments where it’s acceptable to do so.

Stef has worked through a debt solution plan with the help of Debt Free Direct, she now writes articles on money saving tips and advice to help people avoid getting into debt; or save money to pay off their existing debt. 

Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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