Avoid Financing Your Furniture

By Carly Rae Zent

Don’t let the cost of new furniture drive you into a financing situation you don’t need. Here are tips on scouting quality furniture for a fraction of the price.

In a world where many people move frequently, it’s hard to justify investing in pricey pieces of furniture. Not to mention, the price of investment pieces can be out of our budget, leading us to finance or take out personal loans to pay for them. But we also don’t want to buy cheap furniture that is going to fall apart in six months.

There are a lot of companies selling shipable mid-range furniture to try and appeal to our need for portable, decent-quality furniture. But the reliability of these companies, from their customer service to the quality of their products, is debatable.

So, what’s someone seeking a couch to do? There are a few options, which I’ll detail here.

Go vintage

Buying vintage furniture is a great way to purchase well-built furniture for the prices of a new mid-range couch. If it’s 50 years old and still solid, it’ll probably last another 50 years yet. A lot of older furniture manufacturing practices are higher quality than products created in today’s disposable manufacturing culture. Vintage furniture is also less likely to have been self-assembled, which tends to reduce durability.

Sometimes vintage furniture needs a little TLC in the form of repainting, restaining, or reupholstering, especially if you have certain colors in mind, but it can be worth it, especially if the skeleton of the piece is great.

It might be best to search for vintage furniture locally. Most towns have antique stores with curated furniture in good condition. Individuals also sell vintage furniture on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or other local selling apps like letgo or Nextdoor. You can also purchase it online, but the shipping will likely be expensive.

Another option for vintage furniture is a good estate sale. Estate sales are conducted to liquidate property, often when someone has died, gone bankrupt, or is going through a divorce. These kinds of sales are likely to have older, high-quality furniture for cheap, since the estate is just trying to get rid of it and move on.

Best of all, many vintage styles of furniture are trendy again, so you don’t have to sacrifice on aesthetics.

Buy contemporary furniture used

Buying great used furniture doesn’t mean you’re stuck with older styles. Plenty of furniture that’s only a year or couple years old is available used. This is a great way to purchase mid-range furniture. Lots of people get rid of mid-range furniture after a short time because they’re moving or want to upgrade.

Spending $150 on a couch that is mediocre quality is a much better deal than purchasing a new mediocre couch for $700 or more. Buying cheap, slightly used furniture might be the way to go if you know you might not be keeping it for too long.

Great places to look for lightly used furniture include:

  • Thrift stores
  • Craigslist
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Areas near colleges at the end of the school year
  • Hotel furniture close-out sales
  • Etsy (choose your location so you don’t have to pay for shipping)
  • Clearance sales from furniture rental stores

Discount Stores

You can buy a lot of great furniture new but for less at shops like Tuesday Morning, HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls. These kinds of stores sell overstocked goods or leftover goods at a discount. The items are still new, and often higher-quality brands.  Available items in these stores are often on-trend, so it’s a good way to balance out the look of the Victorian couch you may have bought at an antique store.

These stores sometimes even have coupons or loyalty rewards available to make your new furniture an even better deal.

Check Reviews

When buying new furniture, and especially when buying it online, do your research in reading reviews. Don’t make the mistake of only reading positive reviews from buyers who just set up the couch or chair in their home. Look at the bad reviews, see the problems that consistently come up with that item over time, and decide if you can live with it.

It’s also worth researching the reputation of the company if you’re looking into purchasing furniture from a particular store. If you do get stuck with a bad item, you will want support with returns.

Tips on judging quality

If you don’t know how to tell if a piece of furniture is good quality or not, it might be worth checking out the showroom of some higher-priced furniture stores to get a sense of what nice furniture looks and feels like.

There are also some general things to look for, in both new and used furniture:

  1. What materials are in the furniture? Hardwood is the best quality, and plastic or particle board are not as durable.
  2. Was the furniture self-assembled? Self-assembled furniture is not as likely to last as long as an item that was preassembled by the manufacturer.
  3. How are the pieces of the furniture joined? Glue and nails are not as high quality as wood joints.
  4. What is the fabric on the piece? Choose fabrics that are good for your lifestyle if you don’t plan to reupholster. Also feel free to smell it to avoid bringing the smell of smoke or pets, or worse into your home.

Inspect and test the item for comfort and wear before purchasing. If there are drawers, doors, or other movable parts, be sure to test everything before handing over cash.

Good luck deal hunting!

Finding a good deal on a furniture item may take some patience, but at the end you’ll have the reward of a beautifully decorated home within your budget. There’s no need to take out a personal loan for typically big-ticket items when there are ways to work around the overpriced furniture industry and snag great furniture on the cheap.

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