Those of you that come to Debt Roundup often know that I am not a big fan of shopping.  It is a combination of spending money that I don’t want to leave my pocket, going to multiple stores, and dealing with salespeople.  All of these things combined just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  No wonder I love to shop online (pretty much Amazon) so much.  At least I can take out the salespeople and having to go around to multiple stores.

couch in room
This is not our home, but our couch

My wife and I have been shopping around for a new couch to replace our old one.  We have had it for close to 7 years and it has just started to lose it all.  There are parts starting to break and the cushions and backing are losing support.  It makes it extremely difficult to get out of the couch once you get it.  It may actually be alive and trying to eat us, but I don’t know.  We finally decided that we wanted to get rid of it and purchase a new one.  I have tried to fix it and save money, but it is too far gone.  Some of you may talk about getting a couch on Craigslist, but that is something where I draw the line.  I don’t know what has happened to those couches and where they have been.  Some times it just makes me feel better and cleaner to purchase new.

We have a unique advantage when purchasing furniture because my Mom is a great interior designer.  She has owned her own interior design business for years.  She always provides me free services when I need them, so I don’t hesitate to ask.  Armed with an interior designer, my wife and I went out to the furniture stores to find the best couch.  I hadn’t really known how much I wanted to spend on a couch, but I know that I didn’t want to go over $1,000.  I mean, I should be able to find a lot of options under $1,000, right?

WRONG!

Well, after looking around quite a few stores over the span of two weekends, I realized that my expectations were very unrealistic.  We stopped by stores like Rooms 2 Go, Ashley Furniture, Home Comfort Furniture, and many others.  These places had couches, but nothing that made us go “this is it”!  If we are going to spend the money, we wanted a couch that we wanted to sit on.  When I shop for large items, I have a lot going on in my head to make the decision.  Can we afford it?  How should we pay?  Is it in our budget?  How long will it last?

Luckily for me, my wife understands that I have trouble pulling the trigger on large purchases.  She knows that it could take me a few days to actually make the purchase.  I research things to the extreme.  If I can find reviews on an item, then I am going to read through them and dissect them with a fine toothed comb.  I rarely make impulse purchases anymore.  It is just what I do.

A Couch is How Much?

Money Hand Holding BankrollWith my couch budget goal of $1,000, we found that our options were quite limited.  We wanted a sectional sofa because we both love to lounge.  We both cannot lounge on our current setup.  We also wanted to get an ottoman to put our feet up.  There are many options of sectional sofas pretty much everywhere, but they were always out of my made up budget in my head.  We didn’t only want a couch, but we also wanted quality.  This is where my Mom came in handy.  Since she deals with so much furniture on a daily basis, she knows which brands are good and which brands are bad.  She knew how much we were going to have to pay in order to get a couch that would last for 10+ years.  Her advice first annoyed me because she recommended everything out of my “made up” price range, but then after stepping back for a few days, I realized that her advice was what I needed.

After two weekends, we finally narrowed our couch selection down to 2.  They were both over my $1,000 unrealistic limit, but I had to make a decision.  After seeing both of our options and their price tag, we finally pulled the trigger on our couch.  We got a couch, ottoman, and new chair for about $2,000.  They came with just a few pillows, so we didn’t have to purchase more.  The other option would have cost us the same price just for the couch.  I think getting a few more items helped me make up my mind.  It also helped that we could be sitting on the couch in 2 weeks compared to 6 weeks.  I got the salesman to pull down the price by around $400 along with a free 5 year warranty.  Since I was paying with my AMEX card, I saved more than I would if I would have financed the purchase.  Now, we are waiting (until Wednesday) for our furniture to be delivered.

My Lesson

This shopping trip really taught me a lesson.  I realized that when shopping with an unrealistic expectation, you will never be satisfied. We looked at a lot of couches.  Each one would have been great, but I wasn’t happy because they were over my $1,000 “made up” budget.  I had no idea how much couches really were and that was a problem.  I should have done my research before we went shopping.  I did look at a few online, but that didn’t give me the real overall picture.  With furniture, you really do “get what you pay for”.  I realized that our furniture purchase was really an investment.  We spend a good amount of time on the couch when we get home from work, so we want to be comfortable.  Though we spent a little over $2,000, I know that we spent the money wisely.  Some of you may gasp at this number and think this isn’t what a personal finance blogger should do.  Well, I am a person and my finances are personal.  This purchase decision worked for us and we are happy with it.  What is the point of making money if we can’t enjoy it now and then?

Moral of the story…..Don’t shop with unrealistic expectations.  You will never be satisfied and you might end up spending money for something you don’t really want.

Have you ever shopped with an unrealistic expectation?  How did you handle the situation?

Photo via stevendepolo

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