My 3 Cents: When and How to Haggle for Everyday Items

We all know not to pay sticker price for a new car -- and these days, not many houses are selling at asking price either. So it should come as no surprise that the prices for many of the things we buy regularly aren't set in stone. And where there's wiggle room, there's haggling.

Webster's Dictionary defines the word "haggle" as "to annoy or exhaust with wrangling." Ugh. Nobody wants to be that person, though various business owners have told me "that person" is everywhere these days, and "those people" are on a tear.

So, since we know it's happening -- and let's face it, we all need to be doing whatever it takes to keep our budgets in check -- how can you haggle gracefully?

There are two cardinal rules for haggling or smart shopping: preparation and patience. So Google before you haggle, and play the long game.

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On the preparation side, you can take it a step further than just Googling. You know that nagging feeling you get when you have the item you were looking for in your hand and you think: "I wonder if I could do better online? I wonder if it's in stock and cheaper down the street?"

Find out: You can check prices on the fly with your smartphone using the RedLaser app. Simply take a picture of the item's bar code and it'll instantly tell you if the item is available for less nearby or online.

Also, be aware that store managers at major retailers may have some discretion on prices, and small business owners definitely have a say when it comes to the "best they can do."

My take: Above all else, don't be rude. If you do your own homework, you can reasonably expect to get a decent price by presenting simple facts. If the store offers unique customer service benefits -- they know your name, they repair things for you, etc. -- appreciate their intrinsic value and don't try to eat into their often already small margins.

Also, keep in mind, it's not over till it's over.
Most retailers offer "price protection" policies: They promise to refund a portion of your purchase price if the product you bought drops in price within a certain time frame -- typically 30, will watch prices so you don't have to. If an item drops in price after you purchase it, they'll let you know.

Do you haggle? If yes, what's your approach? If not, why not?