Fast Tricks for Saving Money

Want a better deal on a car, flea-market antiques, or a big-ticket clothing item? Follow these rules of negotiating.

MAKE AN AGGRESSIVELY LOW FIRST OFFER.

If you're willing to pay $500 for an antique bureau with a $650 price tag, begin by offering 70 percent of your real limit, or $350. As negotiations continue, you'll have room to work your way up to your true acceptable price, rather than working your way down to it.

TAPER YOUR CONCESSIONS.

Your first "give" should be the biggest one you make (when he says $350 is too low, offer $425). Then follow up with increasingly smaller, reluctant concessions (if you say $425 and he comes back with $575, counter with $460). The vendor will interpret your mini moves as a sign he's squeezed every possible cent out of you.

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ASK FOR A LAST-MINUTE FREEBIE.

Just as you arrive at a price you both agree on, act hesitant and uncomfortable with the sale -- then request something extra. ("If you throw in that jewelry box, we have a deal.") Last-minute freebie requests (speaker cables for a new stereo, an upgraded sound system in a car) work because the other person is eager to close the deal.

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