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Coupons at the grocery store, weekly sales at the clothing store, and memberships at the discount store are all routes to the best deals. But there are no coupons for a new car or repairs to your home. The only way to land a discount on some things is simply to ask. Here is an overview of when and how to bargain your way to a better deal.

Bargain for big-ticket items.

High-cost goods such as furniture, appliances, electronics, jewelry, and cars traditionally provide more bargaining opportunities than less expensive merchandise. Salespeople often are prepared to negotiate prices, having already been authorized by management to do so. And if you don't mind a scratch or a dent, you can probably score an even deeper discount. At many retail outlets this is also true if you purchase the floor model.

Ask for hotel and rental car discounts.

These rates are highly variable and may differ from one online source to another even for the same day and location. To land the best deal, ask if any free upgrades are available. And don't forget to ask about AAA, senior, military, corporate, or other group- or membership-based discounts.

Haggle for services.

Services that require a quote, such as cleaning, construction, car repair, and landscaping, often can be negotiated. While service providers use some kind of formula to generate a quote, their prices are not set in stone. Consider asking for a discount, especially if buying in bulk. For example, if you and a few neighbors all want your driveways sealed at the same time, the service provider is more likely to cut you all a deal because the efficiency quotient is higher.

Renegotiate monthly contracts.

Just because you agreed to a price at one point in time doesn't mean that a better deal hasn't become available since. Ask for better deals on gym memberships, cable TV, and phone bills. If you've been a member for a while, you can also ask for a loyalty discount.

Don't bother at the supermarket, clothing store, or gas station.

These stores have set prices that are rarely adjusted for individuals. If an item is dented or the original packaging is damaged, however, the vendor may cut the price, so be sure to ask if you spot such items on the shelf. Some stores even have a designated discount area for products that are slightly damaged or have reached their "sell-by" date.

Do your research.

Know ahead of time how much you're willing to pay and what a reasonable price is before you start negotiating. Remember, the merchant still needs to make some profit so taking an extreme position won't get you very far.

Ask for a manager.

While salespeople sometimes have authorization to offer a discount, more likely only a manager can grant substantial discounts. Rather than working through a middleman, go right to the source.

Use discretion.

Consider your audience. If other shoppers hear you asking for a deal, of course they'll want the same, making it far less likely the seller will grant the bargain you're seeking. Also, if you're with a group of people or on a first date, you may want to think whether it's the appropriate time for haggling.

Visit during non-peak hours.

You'll stand a much better chance of bargaining success if the salespeople aren't overwhelmed by other customers. Rather than shopping during a weekend afternoon, try a weekday morning when stores are less crowded and salespeople have more time to discuss discounts.

Don't be afraid to walk away.

Show the salesperson or service provider that you're serious about your bottom line by leaving the store or ending the discussion if you aren't getting the deal you want. This is most useful when you aren't in a hurry and have the time to visit another retailer or call another provider to find a more amenable source. This can be a very productive strategy when trying to make a high-priced purchase, such as a new car, or finalizing a costly service, like remodeling the kitchen. Leave your phone number and tell the vendor that you would welcome a call if they're willing to meet your asking price.

Don't be rude.

Remember, the vendor has something you want. Talking calmly and rationally can get you a lot further than being argumentative or loud. If you can develop good rapport with the salesperson or manager, the likelihood that they will try and work with you on the price is far higher.

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