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How to Negotiate a Better Deal

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We are programmed by pricing. While the price on your favorite chocolate bar at Walmart or the toaster you found at Target might not be up for negotiation, not everything is off limits.

Things like hotel rooms, cars, personal services, rent, even medical bills are able to be negotiated down to a fair or better price based on many variables. Negotiating is not limited to the item you just picked up at the garage sale.

To some, this is music to their ears. Oh, how they love a good haggle.

I adore a good deal. I can online shop with coupon codes galore, grabbing a deal with the best of 'em. However, I detest confrontation. At garage sales, I will search for the price on an item so that I know what it is worth to its seller.

Even then, I still feel like I'm somehow devaluing their item by asking them to take less. It's not that I dislike the rush of getting the great deal; it's the whole person-to-person confrontation of the negotiating.

Even if you don't consider yourself an expert negotiator, you can still get what you want without being confrontational if you go at it in a fair and educated way.

Here are some tips to improve your negotiating skills:

1. Do your research. For salary negotiation, visit sites like Monster.com's Salary Calculator that will give you the average price that people make in your area in similar positions. If you're negotiating an item, do a quick search on Google.com and you'll see the average price of the item. If it's a home you're working a deal on visit Trulia.com, where you can see the average price on homes per square foot in the area of your search. Maybe you're looking for a car? Go to Edmunds.com or KBB.com and get the fair purchase price. Going into your negotiation with an idea of what is fair and average will give you confidence.

2. Have a set price in mind. My husband calls this "knowing your limits," both emotionally and financially. Do you really want this that bad? If so, how bad? How much are you able to pay for it? What is realistic?

3. Remove emotion from the negotiation. The first thing someone can see is your emotional need for something, which definitely works to their advantage if they can play on those emotions. If you're not good at hiding this, maybe you should send someone else to do the negotiating for you.

4. Pay cash. Growing up, I watched my Grandma offer insanely lower amounts in cash than someone did with a credit card and walk away with items simply based on the fact that cash is king. Cash sings little songs and does little dances. People love cash; it spends immediately and comes with no strings attached.

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USAA, a diversified financial services organization, is the leading provider of competitively priced financial planning, insurance, investments, and banking products to members of the U.S. military and their eligible families. Rated among the highest among financial services companies for customer advocacy in a Forrester Research survey, USAA provides convenient and accessible financial products to its more than 9 million members. For more information about USAA, or to learn more about membership, visit usaa.com
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