You’ve finally done it! You bought the house of your dreams and closing is just around the corner. Then it occurs to you. Your aged and creaking futon, cement block and raw lumber bookshelves and that one lone chair in your kitchen might not be anywhere near enough furniture for the new space.
What’s a new homeowner to do?
Step One: Don’t Do ANYTHING Until After Closing
Before going into detail on how to keep your budget under control when buying new furniture, it’s important that you actually close your loan. It’s a common pitfall for new home buyers (and really, even home buyers who have bought before). Of course you’re excited, you got a clear to close — but you’re not closing for another week because there’s just not another day that works for everyone.
THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO BUY FURNITURE.
If you buy furniture, especially if you buy it on credit, you can literally have your loan approval revoked. You were approved based on your debt to income ratio, your credit score (which heavily weights how much of your credit is used at any given time) and your cash reserves. Whatever you do, don’t upset the balance. Don’t even breathe too hard. Window shop, but don’t buy anything yet.
You’ve Closed, Green Light on Shopping!
Because you were patient, your loan closed and all is well. The thought of moving into your new house with your sad, saggy furniture is almost too much, though. You want to get to it: new house, new furniture, new life. Before you do, consider these five tricks to help you stick to your home furnishing budget:
- Actually have a budget. It’s easy to walk into the Pier Ones, Ikeas and Crate and Barrels of the world and lose all sense of self-control. Before you take your first step, determine how much you really can afford, whether you’re paying cash or putting your home’s furniture on a card. When using credit, be realistic because if you can’t pay the payment you’re going to suffer a lot for an overstuffed couch you bought on a whim.
- Wait until you know how your space will function. Many new homeowners will be so excited about getting on with the furniture purchase that they buy furniture before they really understand how their new space works. Every house has a flow about it — when you add that to your own personal behavior patterns, you get rooms that are unique and require careful furnishing. This means that the amazing coffee table you bought the day of closing may not end up working as well as you thought, but now you’ve got it and that money is just out the window. Each piece you buy should work with the way you envision the space. Save money by not wasting it, that’s a winning scenario.
- Try online outlet stores. There are lots of places to buy furniture these days. If you’re handy with a tape measure and your imagination, sites like Overstock.com and Wayfair.com can bring you brand new furniture and decor at a discount. Since you’re working out of an online shopping cart, it’s easy to compare different pieces or build a customized set of furniture for any given room and know exactly where you are price-wise. You can’t always say the same for brick and mortar furniture galleries where it’s easy to get turned around and allow yourself to be talked into upgrades or additional items you don’t actually need.
- Wait for sales or open box items. Even if you prefer a real life store, you can clean up if you’re patient. Most home furnishing stores have regular sales, especially for big holidays. Think Presidents Day, Memorial Day and so on. It might be madness inside the shop, but you can start shopping a few weeks ahead to pick out your furniture in your own time. Write down the SKUs and bring them back during the sale to finish the deal. These same shops do sometimes get items returned for any number of reasons, including that the product was delivered and it wouldn’t fit through the home’s front door. Minor scratches and dents are also possible when dealing with these “open box” furnishings. Often, though, those dings are in a place where no one will ever see them, they’re so small that no one would notice them or they’re the sort of damage you’ll eventually inflict upon the item through regular use. When it’s inevitable, you might as well get a discount.
- Check out upscale resellers. So you bought your dining table at Havertys, but you hated the chairs they had on offer. Why not save some dough and check out your area thrift stores and other resellers like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore? These are always gambles, you may go in one week and there are sixteen couches and the next there aren’t any. If you’re building your furniture collection bit by bit, though, resellers will make your dollar go further, while often benefiting a charity. Don’t believe what you’ve heard about these places being cash and carry, most will offer local delivery for a small fee.