Negotiating 101

Negotiating is a skill lawyers need, right? I've certainly had my fair share this week.

Spring fever results in my annual reorganization of the furniture and purging of the clutter. This year hubby is quite pleased that it does not involve him taking things to good will. There really isn't enough to do a garage sale this year either so he's even more pleased. No, we're not simply throwing things away. We're freecycling instead. Hoards of people slam me with e-mails with sob stories on why they need my tv with the broken speakers and I either select the one with the best story or be democratic and give it to the first one who asks. You come to my house and pick it up and haul it off yourself, no effort from me other than a short e-mail exchange.

This year the freecycling frenzy reached new heights as we had appliances to get rid of. We were going to pay the property taxes for our parents who own our house as a thank you for letting us live there. Then we got to thinking that we wanted to make some improvements, but it felt like such a waste to spend money on a place that wasn't ours. So we compromised and will spend the equivalent amount of the property taxes on improvements. His parents still pay the taxes, but they reap the benefits of any increases in property value resulting from the improvements and we get to enjoy living in a nicer place while we're here.

First order of business was replacing a couple ancient, most definitely non Energy-Star appliances. I spent two weeks going back and forth between Lowes and Sears who were both having 10% off appliance deals and finally decided that new appliances were too much. I ended up negotiating for a discontinued model (2007 model vs. 2008 model) fridge and range, which were both the last one in stock. I got the 10% off for the appliance sale and then negotiated another 10% off for taking the perfectly good floor model. It really isn't fair to pay the same price for something that isn't brand-spanking new as something still in the box was my argument and I was totally surprised when they accepted it without balking at all. I should have asked for more. So the $2,499 fridge was on sale as a discontinued model for $2,199, then the sales associate took 20% off because they couldn't figure out how to do 10% and then 10% so the final price was $1,759 or a total of $740 off the retail price two weeks earlier. The fridge is probably more fancy than we need, but we insisted on a few criteria which drive up the price. It had to be Energy-Star and it had to be a good brand and 25 cubic feet. Our current fridge is just a fridge with a tiny ice box large enough for two or three ice-cube trays. This necessitates or running a full size freezer all year to keep our few frozen veggies and pizzas in. We wanted to get rid of both and just go with one appliance which would be large enough for all cooled food in one place. It might be more than we need, but it just reduced the overall budget that we're spending on other improvements. Now I just need to figure out how to run a water line to the new ice-maker. Range was a similar story, took a floor model at a better discount than one of the scratch-and-dent returns, got 20% the sale price and walked out the door spending $599 instead of $999. Really, how much difference can there be in fridge and range technology between 2007 and 2008?

Now I just have to negotiate the feeding frenzy of e-mails seeking our old appliances and coordinate their removal to coincide with the arrival of the new beauties in such a way that I don't end up with a cooler full of rotten food on my hands.

I'll have to post later on other more labor intensive improvements like lighting and our current struggle...wallpaper removal. It's enough to make one want to rent forever!