Wednesday, April 2, 2008

We're Expecting Twins!

I know what you're thinking. That's right. Twins. They should be arriving any day. Twin leather chairs will grace the floor of our living room any day now.

It's been a thorough search of nearly every furniture store in the city, but it's paid off well, and our living room is very close to having a complete set of furniture. First we found the sofa, which was exactly the style, color (a perfect match for the color of Bacon's fur), and fabric (microfiber) that we wanted. Yesterday Lily made a sticky slobber all over it, and it really did come right off. Amen.

You have no idea how much I wanted to post this with "Twins!" in the title line yesterday (April Fools, anyone?) but I just didn't have time. I've lovingly called our future chairs "the twins" as Jim and I searched high and low for them. The sofa search was extensive as well. I really didn't think it would be that hard. Go to furniture stores and pick out what you like best, stay in budget. With those two things on my list, it was still seemingly impossible to do. I had a really hard time finding anything that I really liked, it took forever. I just didn't want to "settle", you know? Finally I did find one, and after using a few of my time-tested bargaining tips from Dave Ramsey, I got a great deal.

Price Negotiation. I know these words conjure up all kinds of bad images of haggling and arguing to some of you. Oh, no. It's not that way at all. Well, I'm sure it is for some people, but not me. The idea is, our money is important to us, and we don't want to waste it- but we do want some great furniture. Upon walking in to the furniture store, the salesperson and I have one very important thing in common. My money. It's valuable to me, it's valuable to them. Hopefully, if they're a good salesperson, my happiness is important too. It's not about getting something for a "steal", but it is about paying the lowest fair price. I negotiate prices on things often, usually at garage sales, and it's fun to get to save money on big ticket items, when there's even more room to save.

1. Do your homework. Know exactly what you want, who has it, and what a fair price is for it.

2. Set your budget, and make up your mind to stay within it. If your budget doesn't allow for what you wanted in step 1, don't buy anything. If you settle for something less than you want, you'll regret it later, so just save and wait.

3. When you find what you want, do not marry it. (Be OK with walking out the door without it, because salespeople have radar. They know things. They know if it's "sold" before you even say a word.

4. Be clear. Ask for what you want, without trying to play games to get a lower price. (Although this is a little bit of a game...) I'm always upfront about what I want to pay. I don't try to haggle or deal. I just say what my budget is (because, as in the case of the twins, the chairs I (finally) found, after Jim had sat..set??... in at least 70 around the city were, of course, more than the chair budget allowed).

5. Be nice. This goes without saying, because it's the right thing to do always. Of course I generally try to be nice to everyone I meet, but I try to make a point to make sure they know I'm not a hardened shopper, and I actually do care about them. I've had some great relationships with salespeople happen so far.

6. Make sure the item is just what you want. Look it over very, very well. I look at details like color, etc. Jim shakes things and looks underneath them to make sure they're structurally sound. We're a good team.

7. Say very little. You would be AMAZED at how far the price will go down (in increments) if you just thoughtfully look over the item, saying almost nothing, asking questions about warranty, etc, as you go. Combining step 6 with 7 is a good way to go. If you do find something you don't like, you can either use it to negotiate a lower price, or just not get said item altogether. Staying quiet and thoughtful not only helps you think as you decide if you really want to commit, but it also conveys the truth to the salesperson- you're not "sold" yet. First they'll offer an extra 10% off, then maybe they'll offer free Teflon, or delivery. Then, if you still haven't decided a yea, they may ask their manager if we could go just a little lower. They'll then tell you about the sale coming up in 4 days and ask the manager if they could go ahead and give you that discount now. All of this because you're nice, you're really thinking about the purchase, you're serious about buying it if the price is right, and you've been clear about what that price is. **This is always the most "fun" part of negotiations for me.

8. If you find your middle ground with the salesperson and things look good, low, and fair, go for it. Don't say you need to think on it. Think in steps 1 and 6. When you get down to a good price, be ready to debit. It's good to point out here that if your spouse isn't with you, you should have talked this all over with them ahead of time (in the case of larger items) to make sure you agree on the type of item and the budget. Otherwise, at this point, you have to do the "It sounds good, but I need to talk to my husband" thing, which is probably a little deflating to the salespeople, and not incredibly respectful, if you've been talking for a while...

Those are some of my time-tested negotiating tools. They've done me very, very well, many times over. As I said, they're mostly wisdom handed down from Dave Ramsey, with a few things I think are important thrown in there as well. Oh, one thing Dave says to do is come in with your cash in hand. Then, don't just say you have the money, whip it out of your wallet and show it to them. Ha! He goes on further to say you should get it all in smaller bills- like $100 bills, and then count it out to them one by one. I find this hilarious. I'd love to see him do it, but I never would! I agree, it's attractive to a salesperson if they know you aren't going to try to do financing or something, and when someone literally sees your money they may be more likely to sell to you, but, I just could not do that! I just find it hilarious though.

Oh, and as for my furniture purchases, I saved 25% off retail on our sofa, and 15% on the twins. The final price on the sofa was just $5 more than I'd originally asked for, and I got the price of the chairs down to just $30 more per chair than my original offer (which, I have to say was a shot in the dark, so I was thrilled to get such a low price in the end). I saved hundreds of dollars by being nice, educated, and quiet. I promise you can do it too.

I'll leave you with one "bonus" tip: Always shop at the end of the month! Commission-based salespeople are excited to increase their paycheck and stores in general want to finish the month strong. I purchased the twins on March 31.


Anonymous said...

Megan - loved the tips! Very well written. Someday when we decide to actually "furnish" our home (with something other than hand-me-downs) this will come in handy! I'm glad you are settling in!

Kimberly said...

Good heavens I read the title and about fell out of my chair!! I can't even imagine. You got me:)

Lisa said...

Congrats!! Buying new furniture is so exciting!!! I haven't done it in FOREVER!!!

Ris said...

Is microfiber easy to clean, is that why you wanted it? We are in need of a new couch, and thinking through the options. Want something comfortable, but kid friendly!

Jenn Boerger said...

Great advice, Megan! I loved you tips and hope to use some of them in purchasing some new flooring for our home. Thanks for sharing your wisdom! And, as always, we miss you in RC!