Today’s post is brought to you by Amo Tango, our new guest writer at Invest It Wisely. She will be stopping in every now and then with her personal life experiences and wise advice. We welcome her to the site and look forward to reading more about her adventures!
I think most people in this world (and especially in North America) do not question the price of an item, or even the price of rent. The vendor or landlord sets a price, and that’s what you pay. However, in a lot of cases, negotiating can be done. The important thing to remember is that negotiation is an art which requires skill, and it is important to not come across as arrogant, which just angers the other person.
Let me give you some of my adventurous encounters of bargaining!
I have travelled to many places in this world where negotiating is actually part of the culture. In Senegal, the locals play the negotiating game with foreigners for most things, such as taxi rides or little trinkets and homemade gifts being sold in a market. Of course when you do negotiate, you have to be friendly about it and also pay up if you do get them to lower the price. I have learned a lot about this.
The first week I was there, I bought fruit and some souvenirs at an ignorant tourist price; it may not seem like a lot to us, but for a country where 900$ a year is the average salary, 10$ for a sale is a LOT! As much as I am helping these local vendors out, I also do not like the feeling of getting massively ripped off! When I told my friends that were there with me how much I had bought these things for, they warned me that I should have gotten my items for at least half the price that I paid! Lesson learned.
The next time I went to the market, my starting counter-offer was about 3 times less than what the vendor quoted me (as opposed to just half, as I did the first time); then the game begins. The vendor offers a little less and I offer a little more until we reach a mutual agreement. Usually, you will pay something closer to what you offer. Know that in these types of countries, even a few dollars is a lot to them and they will be happy if they sell something.
Negotiating is not being cheap, it’s part of the culture. If you don’t do it, they will actually be suspicious of you. This was told to me by a local himself.
I have improved at this art since then. I practiced it throughout my entire southeast Asian/Taiwan trip, including Vietnam (even bargaining the daily tours), Cambodia and Thailand. Even in large department stores, you can get away with some discounts too; this all depends on where and with who. I am not saying you can go to your neighborhood grocery store and just start negotiating, it is just not as acceptable in some countries as it is in others.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, the rent increase you receive every year does not always have to be the one you pay for. If you have been a good tenant and have not caused any problems, you will most likely be able to talk to your landlord nicely and stabilize your rent, or at least lower the increase amount. This is what I did for 2 years when I received notice to renew my lease. I live in a very large apartment complex owned by a very big company. In this case, it’s even more crucial that you negotiate! They are already making so much money, what’s a few dollars to them!
I talked to the manager and was able to lower the increase by 40%. It’s not that much, but it is still significant once you add up all of the months. Since nothing has changed, why should you pay so much more? It only took a few minutes of my time and I was able to save money this way. We also have to pay for our keys and scanners to access our apartment. This is more like a deposit, so at the end of your lease, you can always give back your keys and receipts and get your money back. This is also a good way to save money: organization!
Keep all these receipts together, somewhere safe where you can retrieve them all at the end. All my receipts amount to more than 100$! Why would I just throw that away! However, if you do not take the initiative and get your credits, they will never come to you and refund you. That’s just how it works. The little people have to work for their money! I had to ask the manager to check my account to see if I had any credits, I didn’t know I had any, but I just thought I’d ask. It turned out I had overpaid at one point and I had almost 100$ of credit in my account. If I never went to ask, I would have never known and I would have overpaid. It would be my loss.
Negotiating should ultimately mutually satisfy both parties; if one is really upset, then the exchange has not been fully successful. In the case of a landlord, if they satisfy you, you, the tenant will be less likely to cause trouble and will be more loyal in re-signing the lease. In the case of a vendor, they would have made more money than if they had not sold the item at all. Everyone wins.