02/05/2014 08:54 pm ET | Updated Apr 07, 2014

To Bargain or Not to Bargain, That is the Question

Your instantaneous and automatic answer should be an emphatic and uncompromising YES! That is, if you are at least a little bit smart about that hard-earned money in your wallet. Don't you find it fascinating that in most other countries around the world, bargaining and negotiating for the best deal is normal, even expected? Unfortunately, here in the U.S. there seems to be some hesitancy -- a reluctance or even outright refusal to ask for a better price. Is this some sort of screwed up social conditioning Americans have adopted as a standard? Or is it simply because most Americans have not even considered that there might be a better way?

What Works In Bangkok Will Work In Best Buy!

Hello! Bargaining or asking for a better price really works, according to our granddaddy of all consumer saving tips, Consumer Reports. Last year, they conducted an exhaustive survey of 2,000 American consumers. The survey results indicate that of those people in the survey who reported that they attempted to negotiate a better price, almost 90 percent of them indicated they got a better price. In other words, asking for a better deal worked 9 times out of 10.

Does Income Matter?

Is there an income gap associated with bargainers? Perhaps there is. Check this out. According to Consumer Reports, their survey revealed that almost 60 percent of those earning more than $50,000 a year were willing to ask for a better deal. Sadly, of those who could certainly make use of a better deal, those making less than $50,000 per year, only a little bit more than 40 percent were even willing to step up to the plate and ask for a better deal. Even worse than that, a shocking 35 percent reported that they outright refuse to bargain. The price is the price, period. Ugh, so it's better to work extra hours at the job and clock some overtime pay so you can pay full price? Really? Not so much.

Your 411 On Bargaining

Start out with the right attitude. That is, you want to get in the right mindset. This is not an Ultimate Fighting cage match. You are simply approaching the salesperson, preferably someone at the management level, and requesting a better price. You may even find that approaching with a smile will work wonders for you before you even open your mouth.

Do Your Homework

Next, it helps to have done even a little bit of homework. Walking up to the manager in Best Buy without knowing what other retailers are charging for that 56-inch TV is just going to make you look silly. Like the late Rodney Dangerfield's infamous line, "You won't get no respect." Come on, nowadays everybody is toting around their smartphone. So you should already know when you walk in the door the range of prices for that TV. Armed with this information, you can speak intelligently to the manager and politely ask a question. You could use a simple, basic question like "Can you do any better?"

Can You Walk Away?

Now, at this point you will want to take a step back and wait. Don't blow it by speaking up too soon or volunteering too much information. Maybe the manager doesn't know that Macy's is offering the same model for $50 less; he might offer you a $55 savings. On the other hand, if the price is firm, you will want to be willing to walk away. If you aren't willing to walk away from the deal, the reality is you aren't going to get a deal.

Be Flexible

Don't lock yourself into a fixed position. Maybe the person you are dealing with really can't budge on the price, but perhaps there are other things that are negotiable. For example, for that 56-inch TV you are eyeballing, can the manager provide free delivery? How about free installation? You see, bargaining does not have to just be about the price.

Bottom line is this: It makes cents (pun intended) to ask for a better price. What do you think? Do you bargain or not?

10 Costs You Should Always Negotiate