Save Money: 11 Tips for Haggling Success at the Mall

VIDEO: Tory Johnson heads to a mall and explains how to barter for lower prices.
ABCNEWS.com

Outfitted with a hidden camera, "GMA" sent me on a mission to try my hand at scoring deals at a popular mall. I had just two rules: I wouldn't succumb to the pressure of opening a store credit card, and I didn't bring a single coupon with me.

Scroll down to the end of the page to see bonus tips to save big at Macy's, JCPenney, Sears and Express.

Even though I regularly coach people on how to negotiate salaries, I must admit it wasn't easy walking into a store and asking for a discount. Yet when it comes to guarding your cash, it definitely pays to be confident even if it feels slightly uncomfortable. We work so hard for our money and we all want to stretch every dollar as best as possible.

I also asked several store associates if they mind when customers ask for discount. I wondered if they're annoyed that it may cut into their commission. All of them said no because they understand why everyone wants the best possible deal. They prefer making a sale than having you walk.

Throughout my shopping expedition, the biggest lesson I learned is that your cell phone could replace paper coupons as your greatest on-the-spot ticket to savings at retail stores.

Before you hit the mall, keep these tips in mind as you shop for savings.

1.
Search Online Before Heading Out the Door
Coupons from many major retailers can be found online. Search for the stores you plan to visit, including the current date range, and see what may pop up. Print and put it in your purse.
2.
Register For E-mail Alerts From The Retailers You Plan To Shop
The sales associates at Loft suggested I sign up for store emails to save. Less than 24 hours after submitting my address on the company website, I received a welcome e-mail with an offer to save 20 percent on my next purchase.
3.
Follow Your Favorite Retailers on Facebook and Twitter.
Many retailers post unadvertised savings and promo codes on their social media pages to build their fan base and reward loyal followers. Check to see if your favorites have a social media presence and then click to like or follow for deal details.
4.
Resist The Urge to Open Multiple Credit Cards
Out of 10 shops I visited, seven pushed hard for me to open a credit card. It's sometimes difficult to resist when you're standing right there and you want to save money, but there are other ways to get a deal. Don't make this a spontaneous decision. If there's a place you frequent -- and you have good credit -- study the benefits of having the card to ensure significant savings over the long haul, not just the immediate sale.
5.
Ask About Specialty Savings
When shopping on vacation or if an out-of-towner is staying with you, ask about a visitors pass. Macy's, for example, offers this 10 percent savings to customers, so check with other retailers too. In addition, always ask about discounts for students, seniors, military and specific professions. For example, Talbots offers teachers a 20 percent savings on all full-price merchandise through September 30 when valid ID is presented. Other stores honor teachers all year-round. Some home improvement stores offer discounts to trade professionals -- from contractors to interior decorators. It pays to ask if your profession -- or your child's student status -- qualifies for savings.
6.
Bring Your Cell Phone
In some stores, you may be able to text your way to instant savings. This was true for me in Express and JCPenney. Sales associates gave me a code to text, which resulted in promo codes for immediate savings.

7.
Use Foursquare!
Register for Foursquare. Download the app on your mobile device and check-in at each retail location. You'll often receive discounts to save on the spot from many participating retailers--and the list continues to grow daily.

Tory Johnson is a "Good Morning America" contributor and the CEO of Women For Hire.

8.
Sign Up For Loyalty Rewards Programs
In most cases, these are free programs that track your spending and enable loyal shoppers to save when milestones are reached. The challenge is registering for the card, carrying it with you at all times and presenting it at every purchase. (A great accessory for organizing these rewards cards so you never miss out is www.cardcubby.com.) Ask if you can apply future savings today. (I did this at Foot Locker and the manager graciously agreed to apply the $10 future savings to my immediate purchase.)
9.
Ask Directly About Discounts That Are Applicable Today
Don't assume that all savings are advertised or that you'll be automatically offered a chance to save. Instead, before you start shopping, ask an associate how you can save today. Is there an extra coupon you could borrow? Is there a loyalty reward you can apply to today's purchase? Is there a professional discount you're entitled to? Can you text your way to instant savings?
10.
Be Polite and Persistent; Never Pushy or Rude
Sales associates have it hard enough as is -- they don't need the added burden of rude, demanding customers. They're usually eager to make a sale, so ask politely and be persistent about opportunities to save. If you sense that the associate is new or unfamiliar with potential savings, kindly ask for a manager.
11.
Negotiate!
Ask if sale or clearance items can go any lower. If it's an independent shop, ask if there's any wiggle room on the price. Ask if there's an upcoming or prior sale that you can take advantage of today.

Tory Johnson is a "Good Morning America" contributor and the CEO of Women For Hire.

12.
Web-Extra Tips to Save More!
Click HERE for extra tips to save at Sears and more about Sears's discount policy.

Click HERE for extra tips to save at Macy's and more about the discount policy at Macy's.

Click HERE for extra tips to save at JCPenney.

Click HERE for extra tips to save at Express and more Express' discount policy.

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