Mastering the Art of Haggling



Last updated July 14, 2016

Mastering the Art of Haggling

Haggling is an art, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s a time-honored tradition among the best bargain hunters out there. It’s complex and full of moves and counters that liken it to chess or go – all in an effort to save you a little extra cash where you can.

If you know how to haggle, then you’ve got a grasp of negotiation tactics. In most negotiations, the point is to come to a decision that is mutually beneficial, but not wholly equal. According to an article for the Harvard Business School by Katie Johnston, haggling as a negotiation tool involves both seller and buyer with all their cards out in the open – as opposed to both parties holding fast to their cards and beliefs.

If you want to master the art of haggling, here are a few tips to ensure that your purchase is mutually beneficial to all parties involved.

The goal

When haggling, the goal for you is to buy the item for as small an amount as possible. The goal for the seller is to make a sale, naturally. Remember to relax; this isn’t you negotiating peace talks or the safety of the world.

The point of price

The nitty-gritty of haggling is the price, really. A price that worth the item and is agreeable between you and the seller is where the negotiation happens. If there’s an item you’ve got your eye on, sellers will hone in on that and offer a certain price that might be anywhere from 30% to 50% more than its actual worth.

Remember that in ukay-ukay shops, these items have been bought in bulk, and sellers will already make a Php 150 profit off an item you decide to buy at Php 300. Decide how much you’re willing to pay. Amy Baker of Vagabondish writes “If it’s something you’ve really your eyes set on, make realistic expectations but stay firm on how much you are willing to spend.”


Strategy and tactics play a part when you’re haggling. Keep your cool; ask how much it is, then ask for the final price. The “final price” is the lowest price that a retailer can afford to sell the item at, while still covering costs and turning over a profit.

Get comfortable, and not just in the way you carry yourself – dress the part when you’re bargain hunting. Dress down, because the first thing sellers do is size you up, and appearance counts. Trade in the oxfords for well-worn sneakers, wear a t-shirt instead of something collared – for example.

Time also plays a pretty large factor. Sellers have more time to haggle early in the day, or towards the end of the day. Going earlier also means getting access to more items before other people can buy them.

If they say that the original price is the last price since they are overcharge. Sometimes, walking away is a tactic all on its own, as retailers will shout after you with a price lower than the original to lure you back in. From here, you can say how much you’re actually willing to pay for the item and hope they agree. Trade prices back and forth until you arrive at a number that you’re comfortable with.

Don’t be afraid to walk away if you can’t agree on a price. There are other stores that carry the same item, or better ones. In fact, it’s a good idea to do a little walking around and comparing before you settle in and start haggling for the item you liked.

Final Thoughts

Haggling is a norm for Filipino shoppers, who frequent the tiangges in the metro, looking to buy a few items and, not spend thousands of pesos. A last tip to master the art of haggling, carry small bills – easier to play the part of a bargain hunter.

Helping Filipinos lead a healthier financial life, Moneymax is your trusted source of information and tips on credit cards, loans, insurance, investments, and other personal finance topics. For more financial news and articles, follow Moneymax on LinkedIn.