Ghanaian money etiquette

Bargaining, tipping and begging

The way money is used and talked about in Ghana may be very different from what you are used to. Be prepared for people asking you for money, bargaining in shops and make sure you leave a tip for good service! 

Ghanaian money etiquette

Bargaining

With the exception of of goods in supermarkets, high-end shops, hotels and restaurants, nothing in Ghana has a set price, so you must make it by doing some friendly bargaining with the vendor.

In general, when you ask the price of something, the seller will initially offer the item at 30 to 50 percent more than what they expect for the item. Your counteroffer should be ridiculously low, about 50 percent less than what you are willing to pay. You and the seller will go back and forth until an agreement is made. If you cannot make a deal, do not get angry or annoyed, simply move on. Sometimes this gesture of walking away will prove to the seller that you are set on what you are willing to pay, and they will settle on the end price that you had determined.   

Keep in mind that the vendor is familiar with the economics of this type of business, and they will never sell anything that puts them at a loss.

Until you are comfortable with the bargaining process, you may want to hire a guide. They will ensure that you are getting the correct price and not being overcharged because you are foreigner. You will also pick up a few tricks from your guide that will help when you begin to bargain on your own.

Bartering

Bartering with the locals for items can be really fun, and can be done in small villages and markets. So bring items from home that you are willing to trade for items in Ghana. They do not have to be expensive things, but avoid junk items that have no usefulness. Clothing with logos (T-shirts, caps, etc.) are especially interesting to Ghanaians and you will surely get a good trade for these. 

Tipping

Do be prepared to leave a tip when receiving a service in Ghana. It is not protocol, but generally a tip is expected and always appreciated. For example, when the bellhop was really friendly and helpful, your service at a restaurant was exceptionally good, the stylist at the hair salon performed with precision, the taxi driver was honest and efficient, etc.

It is also customary to leave a tip for the maid so that he or she cleans your hotel room properly, and when someone goes out of their way to help you, for example, when they walk you to the corner of the block that you are asking directions to. Do not be overly generous, as this may appear that you are flaunting money, but do leave enough to show appreciation for the services you receive.

Requests for money

You are foreign, and you will look like a foreigner. Therefore, it is automatically assumed that you have money, and you will get requests to hand it out. This is something that is unavoidable. In Ghana, requests for money is perfectly acceptable behavior.

It is generally ok to fulfill these requests to impoverished children, the disabled and the elderly - but not to mere beggars. Two cedis maximum is sufficient. Remember that you cannot end the world’s poverty, so do not feel guilty that you are not able give to everyone who asks...simply refuse as generously as you can.

Bargaining

With the exception of of goods in supermarkets, high-end shops, hotels and restaurants, nothing in Ghana has a set price, so you must make it by doing some friendly bargaining with the vendor.

In general, when you ask the price of something, the seller will initially offer the item at 30 to 50 percent more than what they expect for the item. Your counteroffer should be ridiculously low, about 50 percent less than what you are willing to pay. You and the seller will go back and forth until an agreement is made. If you cannot make a deal, do not get angry or annoyed, simply move on. Sometimes this gesture of walking away will prove to the seller that you are set on what you are willing to pay, and they will settle on the end price that you had determined.   

Keep in mind that the vendor is familiar with the economics of this type of business, and they will never sell anything that puts them at a loss.

Until you are comfortable with the bargaining process, you may want to hire a guide. They will ensure that you are getting the correct price and not being overcharged because you are foreigner. You will also pick up a few tricks from your guide that will help when you begin to bargain on your own.

Bartering

Bartering with the locals for items can be really fun, and can be done in small villages and markets. So bring items from home that you are willing to trade for items in Ghana. They do not have to be expensive things, but avoid junk items that have no usefulness. Clothing with logos (T-shirts, caps, etc.) are especially interesting to Ghanaians and you will surely get a good trade for these. 

Tipping

Do be prepared to leave a tip when receiving a service in Ghana. It is not protocol, but generally a tip is expected and always appreciated. For example, when the bellhop was really friendly and helpful, your service at a restaurant was exceptionally good, the stylist at the hair salon performed with precision, the taxi driver was honest and efficient, etc.

It is also customary to leave a tip for the maid so that he or she cleans your hotel room properly, and when someone goes out of their way to help you, for example, when they walk you to the corner of the block that you are asking directions to. Do not be overly generous, as this may appear that you are flaunting money, but do leave enough to show appreciation for the services you receive.

Requests for money

You are foreign, and you will look like a foreigner. Therefore, it is automatically assumed that you have money, and you will get requests to hand it out. This is something that is unavoidable. In Ghana, requests for money is perfectly acceptable behavior.

It is generally ok to fulfill these requests to impoverished children, the disabled and the elderly - but not to mere beggars. Two cedis maximum is sufficient. Remember that you cannot end the world’s poverty, so do not feel guilty that you are not able give to everyone who asks...simply refuse as generously as you can.

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