Tuesday, September 11, 2012

When to Buy Cheap, and When Not To

There comes a time when every family needs new furniture for one reason or another. Either they are just starting out, or they have hand-me-downs that are getting a little too gross. Well when we moved into our first apartment some items were given to us by family and friends ( like our couches) and others we had to purchase ourselves.

We made some great purchases, and some not so great ones. I, of course, would love to help prevent you from making some of the same mistakes we made. 

We didn't have very much money to put towards new furniture, but we needed to get the piles of clothes off the floor and into a dresser. We also needed a place to eat our meals that wasn't the floor of the living room. We didn't want to go into any debt doing it.

We bought the most awesome table and 6 chairs ever off of craigs list for $100. An older couple had decided they wanted the RV lifestyle, so they wanted to get rid of most of their belongings. They were moving out the next day, so we got a great deal! The table and chairs are solid wood and in great condition.

Then we decided to find a dresser. We went to IKEA. We hadn't heard much about their furniture, except that it was a pretty good deal and you had to put it together yourselves. We spent $250 on a red dresser, that looks really nice. But is by far one of the worst purchases I have ever made. The bottom of the individual dressers are made out of particle board, so they can hold almost no weight. In IKEAs defense, we also bought night stands there that have held up very well. The particle board in those is surprisingly much thicker, despite the fact that it needs to hold a lot less weight then a dresser.
Our horrible dresser
The thin particle board
Clothes shooting out the bottom of the dresser

My take away from this experience is this:
  • You should buy good quality furniture, that is durable and will last long. Otherwise it is money down the drain, when it doesn't hold up!
  • This rule is valid even when there are children in the mix. Don't think that you shouldn't buy nice things because children will ruin them, it's just the opposite. You should buy quality items, so they can withstand children.
  •  If you can find quality, inexpensive furniture second hand don't pass up the opportunity even it has a few dings in it. It is a lot less money to refinish a table or a dresser then to buy a new one. 
  • Always be safe when buying second hand, especially off of websites like craigs list. I talked to a few potential sellers on the phone, that I just didn't get a good feeling from. So we decided to opt out of those purchases. The couple we ended up buying our table from ended up living right down the street from the house I grew up in, although I had never met them. 
  • If you don't find a great opportunity right away, give it some time. For example, use large plastic bins to hold your clothes, until the right deal comes your way. In the end this will save you money and time! In our case it would have saved us $250, plus the hassle of buying a dresser 2x!
What is your experience buying second hand, or would you prefer to buy brand new items?

14 comments:

  1. I buy a lot second hand - clothing for myself and my kids, furniture, even holiday decorations! I'm really surprised about the Ikea dresser - we have two for our children and they've both held up really well. :(

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    1. That is what I have been hearing, that so many people love IKEA. And like I said, our night stands are great. It may just matter more that the bottom board of the drawers is so thin. Next time I'm buying a dresser, that is the first thing I am going to look for. We buy a lot of decorations second hand and get clothes passed down to us from older cousins, which is great!

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  2. I agree. We bought a dining table from Bob's discount furniture, and although it is not horrible, we can tell it is not great quality. We said when we replace it, we are not going cheap.

    As far as Ikea goes, I have had some things hold up great and others not so much. I just hate actually going into the store to shop. Too many people.

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    1. I have never heard of Bob's discount furniture before! I think it is just really important to take a look at how everything is put together and what it is made out of before you buy it. When your in a really crowded store (like IKEA gets) it is sometimes hard to analyze it enough. I did however love their swedish meatballs!

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  3. In my home right now are 18 pieces of HIGH quality furniture that came from a Salvation Army Thrift store. I do not buy new often. The only thing new in my house is the sofa, mattress and box springs, and my husband's chair. If you take your time, check out the thrift stores, and watch the paper you can buy good quality for pennies on the dollar.

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    1. We haven't had too much luck with thrift store furniture. We don't have a Salvation Army close to us, just a Good Will. Which has been a great place for finding cheap pieces for my latest project, but not so much for large furniture. I am with you, I refuse to buy a used mattress or couch that isn't leather. For some reason there is just a major YUCK factor to me that goes along with that. Maybe if I knew how to reupholster I would be more willing to buy a second hand couch.

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  4. I have no problem buying used, but rarely do simply because in my area (I live in an expensive area of the country) the deals aren't that great. I have had great luck with Ikea though, so maybe it was just that particular model of dresser. I've had my current dresser for 8.5 years and it's from Ikea.

    I think you're right that checking the type of material, particle board vs. wood, and the thickness makes a real difference though.

    Two pieces of furniture I will always invest money in are my couch and my mattress. They get used so often and comfort is really important to me.

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    1. I agree about the couch and mattress! We got a nice mattress, and I don't regret it one bit! I am impressed with your 8.5 years for your dresser. Maybe we were just putting too many clothes in it or something. It started breaking after only 6 months, which was such a let down!

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  5. I agree totally about used furniture often being better quality than affordable new furniture, and about IKEA furniture varying in quality. We use a Five-Part Furniture-Finding Plan and now have a houseful of great furniture that cost only a few thousand total.

    We always buy mattresses new, but we are willing to buy used upholstered furniture if it's in good condition and smells clean. We actually have a couch that I bought from a FRAT HOUSE, but it was in a guy's private room that was very neat and clean. It cost me $60 including delivery, and we've had it 16 years now.
    ---'Becca

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    1. Becca, Thanks for sharing the Five-Part Furniture-Finding Plan with me. I think waiting for the right furniture truly is the most difficult part about finding furniture. I am extremely impressed with your Frat House purchase! Ha I remember all the furniture in frat houses being, well not worth using again :) What a great find!

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  6. I try never to purchase new furniture anymore. Almost every piece of wood furniture in my house (any stored in my shed) is good old-fashioned, solid wood. I must add that every dresser, table, end table and shelf in my home was either found on the street with a big FREE sign, or it was purchased at a thrift store or yard sale. My neighbor found my dining set on the street and I have repainted it and put new fabric on the chairs, and it only cost me $10 for fabric and about $40 in primer and paint.

    Old-fashioned stuff is hip, cheap or free, better built, lasts longer and is easy to redo just the way you want!

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    1. I agree! My friends and I were just talking about that the other day. So many things now are not made with the same quality that they once were. I think a good piece of wood furniture can be a great addition to a home. So many times they will last so long, they can get past down to your kids! Thanks for sharing your experience.

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