How to Save Money on Just About Anything
What's Worth Haggling For
Big ticket items. Among the easiest items to haggle for are appliances, furniture, home-improvement products, mattresses, bath fixtures, cameras, home electronics, and jewelry. The reason? The profit margins on them are big enough to allow retailers wiggle room. For example, good-quality kitchen cabinets may be marked up 100 to 200 percent, jewelry by even more. While there's no standard discount that you should anticipate getting, there are a few rules of thumb, particularly when it comes to home-improvement products: Aim for 30 percent off the price of windows (including Andersen and other top brands), 25 percent off bath fixtures, and 50 percent off some light fixtures.
Hotel rooms. You can get great deals on the Internet, but not necessarily the lowest possible price. For that you should call the hotel directly and tell the reservationist the best Internet price you were able to find. Then ask for a better deal. They may offer you a 10 to 25 percent discount -- even more in the off-season. Remember, hotels can't make money on empty rooms.
Bulk purchases. The more you buy, the more stores may be willing to negotiate with you since they don't want to risk losing your business. For example, if you purchase two or three pairs of shoes instead of one, it's worth a shot to ask for a 10 percent discount. Cases of wine are routinely discounted between 10 and 30 percent. Buy a few gallons of paint and request a "painter's discount" of 15 percent, or ask for 10 percent off on several rolls of wallpaper.
Anything damaged. Clothes, furniture, books, whatever -- all are worth haggling over. You may be able to get a discount of 5 percent to a whopping 85 percent, depending on whether the dress, say, has a makeup smudge that will come out in the wash or a broken zipper. Floor-model appliances or home-electronics items that are cosmetically marred should be good for at least an extra 10 percent off.
Anything already marked down. This includes items labeled "discontinued," "clearance" or "closeout." How much? There's no set figure, but you're not out of line if you ask for another 50 percent off.
Healthcare. Ninety-three percent of patients who asked for discounts from doctors, dentists, and pharmacists got them, according to Consumer Reports. One tactic is to ask your doctor before your appointment starts if she'd be able to give you a break on the portion of the bill that insurance doesn't cover. For hospital bills, call the billing office directly. It's totally up to their discretion, but they may trim the bill by 15 to 20 percent, and discounts of up to 30 percent are not unheard of if you pay immediately.