14 December 2012

Silence Is (NOT) Golden

That cliché phrase is costing you money at this very moment. I'm sure I'm not the only one who recalls being told that as a child. Unfortunately, it seems that many of today's parents missed that part of parenting class. But I digress. Once we grow up, we would do well to forget it. Oh sure, if your boss is chewing you out, silence probably is called for. However, once out of her office, speaking up for yourself is usually in your best interest. Of course, I don't mean by then murmuring and complaining to your coworkers. I mean in other areas of life. In the adult world, keeping quiet can cost you tens of thousands of dollars and years of your life.

To be quite honest, I never even realized that there is a first part to the phrase--"speech is silver". Yet, that is probably the more important side of it. Speaking up for yourself in daily dealings (whether financial or not) is an important skill to practice and get firmly under your belt. There're many guides on negotiating big purchases to get the best deal on a house, car, boat, etc. However, not to discount the importance of those situations, but speaking up and negotiating on smaller items will have you in the practice of getting the most value for your money.

Now I'm certainly not saying you should be the annoying person holding up the line to try and wrangle a discount because of a single spot in a bunch of bananas. But plenty other more reasonable opportunities to get better pricing exist. It can be hard to remember this, especially in most of today's modern shopping establishments. We see the price tags and figure that must be it and don't even think about asking to get it knocked down except in a restaurant. Grumbling and complaining on the way home don't change much; the time for that is in the store.

At first, it may seem ridiculous to ask for discounts. It's a skill many just don't have anymore. However, a little practice should fix that. The first step is being ready to have your request denied. Once you've made yourself okay with that possibility, you can sail smoothly because that's usually the worst possible outcome. A second very closely related step is to be willing to leave without the item. In a retail situation, it probably ends up as your loss, as I found out on Black Friday. But by practicing that in the minor leagues, you have negotiation skills ready when you step up to the big league purchases.

As I don't often frequent stores myself, I don't have much I can report on. But, I do plan to buy a car/motorcycle/scooter within the next couple months, so I'll definitely be putting some negotiating skills to work. When I do, I'll mention a few words about which strategies I used that were successful and which ones were not, with success being measured vs. asking price and KBB value. Until next time, auf wiedersehen!

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