For this post, I thought I'd share a few buying and selling tips I've picked up along the way that have saved me money on home decor, furniture, and appliances.
Tip 1: Buy Second Hand
I obviously have no problem taking second (or third, fourth, or fifth) hand furniture. Brand spanking new is nice but it can also be expensive. In fact, when it comes to wood furniture pieces, most aren't made to last like they used to be. You can buy quality made antiques for the same price point as things made out of particle board. Garage sales, consignment shops, charities, antique malls, and Craigslist are great resources. The only thing I don't really like second hand are fabric upholstered pieces, unless I'm reupholstering, they're newer, I know the people I'm getting it from, or they have been professionally cleaned (like at a consignment shop). Leather is easily cleaned so I have no qualms with that.
Tip 2: Buy a Floor Sample
If buying second hand still makes you squeamish or driving to a Craigslist listing makes you uncomfortable, consider floor samples. They're new pieces, but generally have an imperfection, the model is discontinued, or the store is making room for new models. Outlet malls are filled with floor samples. Tip: go to the nicest part of town if you want pieces in the best shape. Our formal living room couch was a floor sample from Restoration Hardware and we paid 70% off the retail price! The cushions are even feather filled. We never EVER would have been able to buy that couch otherwise. The legs had some minor scratches and it needed to be cleaned, but that's it. Couches get the most wear, so I don't like spending a lot of money on them.
Tip 3: Price Match
Buying New? Don't be afraid to ask for a price match. Even after we purchased our coffee/side tables, we found the same ones for less at their competitors. They rarely carry the same pieces, but our store was true to their price match policy and gave us a credit for the difference. Our bedroom furniture was also price matched. We were originally given pricing while we were at a huge out of state furniture store. They couldn't deliver to us, so we found a local company that would order the pieces we wanted for the same price!
Tip 4: Shop Warehouses
Warehouse stores, like Costco and Sam's, are wonderful places to find accessories, mattresses, towels, rugs, and appliances. I kicked myself for not getting a rug from one of these places.
Tip 5: Think Out of the Box
If you know how to sew or know a good seamstress (even the dry cleaners), there aren't as many fabric choices out there compared to fancy furniture stores. If you can't find what you're looking for, consider using discount drapery panels or other household linens. I made my first tree skirt and stockings out of curtain panels I found in the clearance bin. I also made throw pillows out of curtains I didn't like anymore. Kitchen towels with pretty appliques make interesting pillows. Make duvet covers out of two flat sheets.
Tip 6: Trade
Our dining table and chairs were bought on trade. Justin's customers were going to sell them (Restoration Hardware table with two leaves and 10 upholstered chairs!) in a garage sale before we scooped them up in exchange for remodeling work. We still got an awesome deal (well under $1,000), but exchanged labor instead of cash. My sister and I swapped Christmas trees when we realized I needed a bigger one and she needed a smaller one. Since hers was newer and larger, I gave her the price difference. Win win.
Tip 7: Sell It While its Hot
We've upgraded most of our appliances by selling our old ones while they were still in good shape. Our washer and dryer were early edition front loaders, bought with the house, and much too small for washing comforters or lots of jeans. They were also really low for tall people like us (it actually hurt my back to do laundry in them). We sold the set and used the cash towards the purchase of big brand new high efficiency ones with pedestals. We can't afford stainless steal in our kitchen yet, but we did get a microwave vent and refrigerator (with a water/ice dispenser) from a couple who was upgrading their kitchen. Our old fridge stands in the garage and is great for extra food storage. Dead machines are worthless. Get what you can afford now and upgrade while the appliances are still in good shape.
Tip 8: Make Major Purchases During Holiday Sales
Black Friday, Labor Day, and Memorial Day Sales are the best for purchasing new furniture and appliances. Our washer and dryer were BOGO free on Black Friday. Seriously, they didn't just jack the prices up in order to trick us. Our dryer really was free.
Tip 9: Use Coupons
This is probably a no brainer for most of you. I never go to Michael's, Hobby Lobby, Jo-anne Fabrics, or Bed Bath and Beyond without a ooupon. These guys have regular weekly coupons that I can always rely on.
Tip 10: Negotiate
I have to be honest, I'm not a great negotiator. It's not fun for me. I leave the negotiating to my husband most of the time, but I'm practicing. Most things are negotiable. You just have to put on a smile and ask.
Do you have some savvy tips? Please share and tell me your buying & selling stories.
Happy Shopping Everyone!