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Spending Smart: Strategies for Paying Less

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By Gregory Karp

—Haggle. Part of talking to salespeople is to simply ask for a price break. Be nice and maintain your walk-away leverage. “When you ask for a discount, ask confidently like there is no reason in the world why your wish should not be granted,” said Mark Di Vincenzo, author of the books “Buy Shoes on Wednesday and Tweet at 4:00” and “Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon.” You have more negotiating power if you’re considering several purchases or can find flawed items or floor models for sale. Use phrases such as, “Is there any wiggle room in that price?” and “Gee, that’s more than I wanted to spend.” If you can’t bargain down the price, ask for free throw-ins, such as home delivery of an appliance, clothing alterations and no-interest financing. At smaller retailers, offering to pay cash — allowing the merchant to avoid credit card transaction fees — might yield a discount, Di Vincenzo said.

—Make a list. This isn’t the most exciting advice, but making a list and sticking to it might be a tip that saves the most money. Retail stores are geared toward enticing customers to make impulse purchases, with in-store sights, sounds and even smells. It’s why supermarkets place impulse-purchase items near the checkout to entice you, put high-profit items at eye level and store the milk in the back of the store, so you have to walk by tempting items. One reason to stray from a list is when you pick up the supermarket weekly sales flier, often in a rack at the entrance. Items on the front and back pages are often “loss leaders” selling at a great price and worth stocking up on if it’s a product you’ll use.

—Shop late. Shop after 6 on the evening before an advertised sale begins. Some retailers program checkout registers the night before, so the sale price might come up at the register even if they have not put signs on the selling floor yet, according to a tip from the National Retail Federation. Also shop in the afternoon or later when buying shoes. Your feet will be more swollen that time of the day, and you won’t waste money buying shoes that are too small.

Gregory Karp, the author of “Living Rich by Spending Smart,” writes for the Chicago Tribune.

©2013 Chicago Tribune
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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