Friday, October 5, 2012

To Barter, Or Not To Bater, In Thailand

While it is common, and even expected, to negotiate prices for homes or cars, most of those in the Western world would never dream of doing so in a store or with a vendor. The price is marked on a price tag, so that is what we pay. It would be rude to haggle, not to mention futile. In Thailand, as in most of Asia, bartering is the norm, and in fact, it is rude not to barter. For those unfamiliar with this tradition, how do you know when to barter and when to pay the asking price? How do you ensure you are paying the proper price that is fair to both you and the vendor?

Just as you can be thought rude or uncouth for failing to barter with vendors, so too can you be thought arrogant or cheap if you barter at the wrong time. Many in the Middle East and, to a lesser extent, Asia believe that there is nothing on Earth for which you cannot barter. In terms of cultural faux pas, though, you want to stay away from bartering in department stores, malls, grocery stores, or for scheduled buses or ferries. If you are dining at a restaurant by yourself or with a small party, you will not want to barter.

There are a few exceptions, however. If you are eating with a large party, you may negotiate the rates before you eat. If you do it after, you will be looked upon as very cheap or unknowledgeable. You may sometimes barter the price for high ticket items in a department store, such as jewelry, or when you are buying an item in bulk. You may also offer to pay cash for a discount. Some stores will take off five to ten percent if you use cash instead of a credit card, but this is far from universal.

Before you hit the streets of Thailand, brush up on your bartering skills. While there are some intricacies you should know, in general, you want to be very pleasant. Never raise your voice, and treat bartering like a game. It can be intimidating for the uninitiated, but it helps to know that this is largely meant to be an enjoyable experience for vendor and buyer. Start in Thai, saying, "Sawadee krap/ka, nee tao rai na krap/ka?" or Hello. How much is this?

Don't take it too seriously, play along, and above all, always pay a fair price for goods. Vendors will often take off ten to twenty-five percent of their asking price through the bargaining process; unless it is a very expensive item, don't haggle too much more than that. Remember that as a tourist, you have considerably more money than the vendor.

Monday, October 1, 2012

When You Desperately Need Rent Money - How To Find Fast Emergency Cash

Few people would disagree that these are truly hard times for a lot of people. That includes those (like me and perhaps you) who are renters instead of house buyers.

But sometimes, bills pile up, and we need rent money...and need it fast. Rent isn't the only living expense we have, of course, but is there usually any bill we consider more important? After all, if you don't have a place to live, everything else matters less. You can live, if forced to, without a phone, an Internet connection, cable TV, even electricity (though that's a tough one). But when you lose the roof over your head, that's a major big deal, no two ways about it.

If you've ever said, "I need rent money...and I need it fast to avoid eviction," then I'm talking to you here.

In times past, I too have been "up against it," as they say...down to my last few dollars, with the rent already overdue, and waiting for the "other shoe to fall." You know....that knock on the door with your landlord standing there...or a phone call from the apartment or property manager.

What do you do...what CAN you do...to raise what maybe I could call "eviction rent"? Well, having been in just such a situation, I've learned some ways to raise fast emergency cash...and some ways to definitely avoid at all costs. One way that's a total dead-end is to go for the quick, easy fix: a payday or car title loan. You risk your car, your paycheck, your peace of mind...and maybe even get forced into bankruptcy. And if you do manage to pay back your, say, 0 loan over the full term you're given, you're likely to end up paying more like ,200.

But fortunately, there are other ways that can help you get money quick...ways I've uncovered in my own search for ways to get cash quick. Some of them, most everybody already knows about. But beyond those are scores of other dependable, proven ways to find or raise cash when you need rent money or money for some other emergency. I've pulled them together in a brand-new resource that includes ways both well-known and virtually unknown...but all of them, ways that will get you out of your current bind and back to a place where you can breathe again.