Over the years, I’ve learned how to drive a pretty good bargain.  I learned smart negotiating tips from my husband Aaron, and I’ve had lots of experience whittling down prices on antiques, art and services like contractors. I always pay fair prices (and nobody would ever call me “cheap”) but I keep in mind that with big-ticket items and services, the seller is usually expecting a negotiation, so getting a discount from the initial price is just common sense. Here’s my advice on getting what you want at a price you feel good about:

Be enthusiastic. Tell the seller how much you love the item or service they’re selling—don’t imply that it isn’t worth the price that they’re asking, because they’ll be turned off if you act like their goods aren’t valuable. (Plus that would be rude.) Send the message that you’d love to make a purchase if only the cost were closer to what you’re looking to spend.

Have other options. Casually drop that you’re considering a similar item from another store or dealer:  “I’ve been looking at a similar piece at a store in Santa Monica . . “

Do your research. If you know the prices of comparable items, you can use that to your advantage by saying  “I saw a similar work from the same artist for X price,” or “I’ve seen ottomans like this online for X price.”

At big stores, try a subtle approach. If you’re at a big retailer (versus a gallery or boutique) where it’s harder to haggle, take a subtler approach by asking “Could you tell me if this might be going on sale soon?”—this gives the salesperson an opening to give you a “sale price” in advance, without engaging in a bargaining exchange.

Name your “Buy It Now” number. If you’re certain you want the item and are willing to pay a certain price, make that clear: “I’m willing to buy it right now for X.” The worst they can say is no—and you can always leave your contact info behind in case they change their minds.

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