When you shop, don't forget the art of haggling

Are you sick of your cell phone bill?  Tired of the cost of dry cleaning?  Believe it or not you could probably pay less, if you're willing to haggle.

According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, we've lost our nerve since the economy started to show signs of recovery.

But now, more than ever, is time to hone your skills, muster the courage and go for it.  I walked all over the Metrolina Expo's International Collectable's and Antiques Show with owner Pete Pistone. He's been haggling for 40 years.  He says start by being up front.  You can't save if you don't ask!  "How much are you asking - what would you take - what's your best offer?," is Pistone's first advice.

I talked to dealer Kathleen Tarr who says if you want to win someone over and get a good deal, you've got to be nice!  "Do it nicely! Don't be mean, don't be aggressive because that turns people off but just be pleasant," Tarr told me.

Next trick, is to trade on your loyalty! If you don't like that cable plan or your cell phone deal, call them, remind them how long you've been a customer and say, 'I need a better deal or I'm shopping around.' It really works shopping for high ticket items!

Tarr is very loyal to Lowes Home Improvement stores and recently had to  make a large potentially expensive purchase.  "We had to buy a bunch of appliances and I go into Lowes and we need a fridge.  I explained, this is what I want, now can you give me your best price."  Tarr figures she saved close to fifteen percent which added up to hundreds of dollars.

If you're going to dive into a negotiation, know what you're willing to pay- be willing to walk away!  And remember, as Pete told me, to dealers and small business owners, "Cash is always king, you're more likely to get a deal if you offer cash," Pistone told me.

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