Only one in three of us regularly ask for a discount. A recent survey revealed that 73% of us are too embarrassed to ask for money off, while 45% say they don't know how to do it effectively. But what if you could be armed with the phrases that pay?
The research, by Topcashback.co.uk, also found that we can save an average of £415 a year by haggling, so it's worth arming ourselves with the magic phrases that make haggling far more effective - and much less embarrassing.
1. I like it, but it's just beyond my budget.
An opener like this will determine whether they are the kind of operation that offers a discount. If they are open to haggling, then they won't just shut you down, but will say something positive.
2. What sort of deal can you do for me?
Ideally get them to make the opening offer. Use this kind of phrasing, which makes it sound like you're definite that you will be offered a deal.
3. I was hoping to spend closer to xx
When it's your turn to make an offer, go in with something lower than your target price, so there's some wiggle room.
It can be tempting to fill a silence - especially if they don't look particularly enthusiastic about your offer. Leave a longer gap, and they may well come in with a counter-offer.
5. I've seen it for sale at xx, can you match it?
If you're buying something being sold by a number of retailers, do your research beforehand, and find the best possible deal - online or on the high street. Then print the offer out to show to them - or if you're haggling by phone, offer to email it to them.
This is useful in two scenarios: first is if your negotiations are failing to come down near this price, because it will re-set the target price for both of you. It's also handy if you can't face to-ing and fro-ing. It's simple to ask them to match the price, and then take it or leave it.
6. My wife/husband would kill me if I spent more than xx
This good cop/bad cop stuff is handy if you are embarrassed about admitting it's you that doesn't want to pay the full price.
7. Can you include a xxx
Asking for extras is a decent place to go if you can't get them to knock enough off the asking price.
8. I don't think we can do a deal at this level
Only use this if you truly believe it, and you are prepared to walk away. Stay polite and positive, thank them, and leave. If they have any power to cut the price further, they will offer to do so, but if they don't have the power, you will have to walk away - so don't try to bluff.
Natasha Rachel Smith, consumer affairs editor for Topcashback, suggests starting off in an environment that feels more comfortable, such as on holiday, or on the phone when renewing media and internet contracts - which are famous for being open to haggling. Once you're ready to move onto haggling face-to-face, you can try a market, where haggling is more expected. Once you've cracked that, the world is your oyster.
If all else fails, she says, you should still avoid paying the full price. It's worth checking our guide to cheaper online bargains for 10 haggle-free steps to avoid paying full price for anything.
Save money on shopping: ten great tricks
Save money on shopping: ten great tricks
The more work you are prepared to put in, the more you stand to save. If you put your shopping list into mysupermarket.com, you can identify where each individual items is cheapest, and can technically buy every single item at its lowest possible price.
If that sounds a bit too much like hard work, a reasonable compromise is to shop at two supermarkets: once at the weekend and once mid-week. You can buy each item at the cheapest of the two shops, and save money without devoting hours to shopping.
There are several deal-sharing sites, including hotukdeals.com and latestdeals.co.uk. Most of them have a ‘freebies’ section, where you can get items completely free, and all have a section where they post fantastic deals that are well worth taking advantage of.
They will often point the way to coupons for brilliant discounts too.
The more time you have spare to spend looking for these, the more you can save.
It’s worth following your favourite brands on Facebook or Twitter. It’s also important to pick up in-house magazines, try your free local paper, and check any letters from supermarket loyalty schemes for your vouchers. If you have a Nectar card, visit the website before you shop, so you can upload the latest deals to your card.
While you’re in-store, keep your eyes peeled for promotions on packets, and on receipts. Often the deal-hunting websites will offer a short cut to many of these, but if you have the opportunity to do some legwork, you will find plenty of others.
Compare the price of your branded goods (after you use the coupon) with the cheapest supermarket alternative. If the discount makes it the cheapest option, then feel free to use it immediately.
However, if it doesn’t bring the price down below the own brand price, then don't throw it away. Hang onto the coupon, and check Mysuupermarket.com every few days to see if there’s an offer running on the brand at any time before the coupon expires. A deal plus a coupon is often the cheapest option.
Prices change all the time, but it pays to have a shopping list annotated with the usual price - or an old receipt - on hand when you are shopping. When something is on sale, compare it to the usual selling price from your list, to decide if it’s really as good value as it purports to be.
The frugal experts have decent storage areas at home, so if there’s a very special deal on washing powder or toilet paper, tins or toiletries, they can stock up for a few months at a knock-down price. It’s not generally worth doing on fresh produce, or packets with a short shelf life though, because throwing something away that’s out of date will undo all of your good work.
There can be some incredible bargains in the ‘yellow sticker’ sections of the supermarket. Most stores will have a spot for fruit and vegetable reductions, somewhere for chilled food price cuts, one for bakery products, and a final one for those with a longer shelf life that may be a bit battered, or separated from the outer packaging. Check them all for a possible discount.
The ’yellow sticker’ items will usually be reduced at least twice a day: once in the afternoon and once later in the evening. If you can wait to shop at around 7.30pm or 8pm you can get astonishing discounts.
If you want to time your shop exactly, then your best bet is to ask in store when they do their final reductions - don't be shy!
Get to know the rules around freezing ‘yellow sticker’ items, so you can buy when they are cheapest and use over the following weeks and months.
Don't assume something is perishable without checking. Everything from cheese to beansprouts is fine to freeze as long as you treat them correctly (beansprouts need blanching, chilling in ice water, and freezing immediately).
It’s never worth buying something just because it’s cheap: you also have to be able to factor it into your life. If you can't immediately think how you would use that over-ripe avocado, a pack of cut-price tongue or kippers, then don't buy them.