A Lesson in Negotiation From Jamaican Locals (4 Areas to Negotiate In)

Negotiating and bartering to save money is not something I see too many Americans doing these days. When I went to Jamaica for my honeymoon however, it was a completely different story.

After a few days of being on the island, my husband and I took a cab to the shopping district to pick up some souvenirs and look at other merchandise. Unlike the staff at the gift shop, the local shop owners and workers were super welcoming and friendly and seemed like they were very open in terms of negotiating their prices.

In one of the stores, I remember looking at item after item and each time the shop owner would come up behind me and knock a few dollars off the price if I was interested in purchasing it. Clearly, they wanted my money. I get that. But since they were willing to negotiate a lower price in order to make the sale, I was also winning too since I was receiving a discount on an item I indented to purchase.

When I went to a dress shop, I found a dress I absolutely loved but felt like it was a little overpriced. After seeing how willing the shop owners in the area were to negotiate, I decided to put my offer in at $10 cheaper than the purchase price. The sales clerk agreed and I got my dress :)

This made me wonder, why wasn’t I negotiating more back at home and what types of things could I negotiate or barter with?’

Why Americans Don’t Barter or Negotiate

Bartering and negotiating both have different meanings. Bartering refers to the exchange of commodities, assets, or services based on the value they hold to each party. Negotiating, on the other hand, is designed to add value by the exchanging a good or service for a proper price that both parties agree with. Bartering may include negotiating but negotiating doesn’t have to include bartering. Either way, both can help you save money and I don’t feel like Americans do much of either which is why I was a little surprised when I visited the shops in Jamaica.

Many Americans are too scared to negotiate things like thier salary, but with goods, I feel like our culture and society put forth the notion that we will look cheap or even greedy if we ask for a lower price.

From my personal experience, I also find that a lot of people are eager to pay for things mindlessly. We all should be willing to pay the proper price for goods and services, but you can see a difference when people lunge at the cashiers at Target or a restaurant with their credit card before they even know how much they need to pay. Do you ever look at your receipt after you purchase something to see how much it costs?

I am guilty of just stuffing my receipt into my purse or even throwing it away without even looking at it once. If we all start to notice more of the little expenses that add up, we will be more open to negotiating.

Negotiating is not necessary for everything and every culture is different, but below are a few areas in which I think we all can negotiate more in order to get a better deal.

1. Your Salary

According to a recent Glassdoor survey conducted earlier this year, at least 3 in 5 employees don’t negotiate their salary. Your salary is one of the easiest and most important things to negotiate because you don’t want to leave money on the table that could have been going into your bank account each month.

I feel sometimes we undervalue what our worth means to our employers, but if you have a different mindset, you’ll be more willing to ask for more money. If you have an offer letter or some form of justification that you are worth more money, consider asking for a raise or a higher salary. If you don’t ask or negotiate, the answer will always be no.

2. Expenses for a Large Event Like a Wedding

If you are planning a big event like a wedding vendors and other companies know you will be spending a decent amount of money on goods and services. As a result, they might be more willing work with a lower price if that means you’ll be choosing their services in the end. For example, depending on the time of year and the current demand, a venue owner will probably be willing to lower their pricing if you tell them what your budget it and express a genuine interest in their services to prevent you from walking out the door and considering another vendor.

Just like in other countries, suppliers in the wedding industry have been known to charge more than they expect to earn which leaves some room for negotiation. If you don’t put a lower offer out there, you’ll be stuck paying full price.

3. Shopping for Goods

You might not have known that you can negotiate pricing on goods that you find in retail stores as well. Last year, Wisebread shared 11 well-known retail stores that you can negotiate and haggle in. Some of those stores include Best Buy, Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and Lowes. Who would have known?

A good strategy for negotiating a lower price on store items is if you want to purchase something that happens to show minor wear and tear for whatever reason if it’s a scratch or dent etc. If the item still functions perfectly, you can still request a lower price. Target in particular is very open to providing customers with a lower price if the item is ‘damaged’ which is good news because I love Target :)

You can also try asking for a discount if you purchase multiple items (commonly referred to as bundling), and you can also try your hand at price matching. I wrote about price matching before in a previous post and I know many people who do it with groceries so I’d be interested to try it out with other items as well. Just make sure you review each store’s price matching policy (if they have one) before you attempt to negotiate.

4. Car Maintenance and Repairs

Negotiating with auto repair shops is something I do often. I do have a favorite auto shop in my town, but I’m always open to shopping around. The auto repair and auto sales industries are highly competitive and oversaturated which gives people like us leverage to negotiate and haggle for lower prices for services.

If I need repairs for my car and I don’t like what my go-to auto repair shop is asking for, I always shop around for better pricing and I usually find someone who is offering a lower rate. I think it’s fair to mention that sometimes you pay for what you get and not all auto shops produce quality results unfortunately. But if I find a lower rate, I usually tell my favorite and trusted auto repair shop about it and ask if they can meet that price. If they say yes, it’s a win.

Will Negotiating Always Work For Everything?

Heck no. Sometimes things will be listed at a firm price and you’ll have to deal with it.

Sometimes people may look at you crazy when you ask for a more affordable price. I don’t think everything in life is negotiable (but maybe it is). However, I do know that many of us are overpaying for goods and services when we could be putting in a little extra time and effort to simply ask for a lower price or counter with an offer of our own.

If you still feel a little uneasy about negotiating, take baby steps by trying it out in one of the 4 areas I covered as a start.

Lessons in Negotiation

Do you ever negotiate? Why or why not?

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