We’ve all been there. It’s payday and you’re itching to buy a fun new piece of furniture—a stylish sofa or armchair, anyone?—for your apartment. But don’t pull out your wallet just yet. Before you make any sudden splurges, remember that there are a few questions any intelligent shopper should ask themselves before buying a pricey piece of furniture. Read ahead for nine things you should ask yourself before dropping your hard-earned dough on furniture.
1. Can I actually afford this?
It might seem like a no-brainer but if you honestly can’t afford the piece of furniture, then you probably shouldn’t buy it. Before you plop down your charge card or transfer funds from your savings account, ask yourself if the furnishing is truly worth going into debt for, and chances are, it won’t be.
2. Do I really need it?
Once you’ve determined whether or not you can actually afford a new piece of furniture, the second most important question to ask yourself is: Do I really need this item? While it’s easy to get lost in daydreams about buying a brand new overstuffed sectional, if your three-seat sofa is still holding up just fine, you should probably save your money for when you really need it.
3. How long will I use it?
Part of deciding whether or not you really need something is determining how long you will actually use it for. Sure, that mid-century modern writing desk will be perfect for but will you still have a need for it a year from now? If the answer is no, then save your money.
4. Do I know where it’s going?
Unfortunately, deciding whether you actually need a new piece of furniture is only half the battle. Figuring out where it will go, and if you truly have the space for it in your apartment, is just as important as being able to afford it. Do yourself a favor and measure your current furnishings (as well as the room they’re in) to get an idea of how much room you have to spare and whether or not a new piece of furniture will actually fit.
5. Does this work well with other furnishings in the space?
True, that bright yellow loveseat is oozing with style, but that doesn’t mean it will look good situated inside your neutral living room setup. Before you splurge on any piece of furniture, it’s crucial to figure out whether it will mesh well—i.e. is it in a complementary color palette, favorable texture, or similar design style—with the other furnishings in your space. No matter how attractive something looks at the store, if it doesn’t work with your home’s present decor, it isn’t worth buying.
6. Have I searched for sales coupons?
One of the biggest perks of online shopping is being able to search for sales and promo codes before buying. Once you’ve determined the piece of furniture you want to buy, take a few moments to research some popular coupon sites—such as Retail Me Not—or any sales or promo codes the retailer has to offer. Can’t find any? No worries. Browser extensions like Honey will scour the web for relevant discounts before you checkout and many online furniture retailers offer discount codes when you sign up for emails or if you’re a first-time shopper.
7. Can I thrift for something similar?
While there are some things that you should never buy used, furniture isn’t necessarily one of them. Reusable furnishings such as dining tables, desks, and even reupholstered sofas and armchairs, are super easy to source both online and at your local flea market, and will only set you back a fraction of the cost of a new one. Just remember to do your homework ahead of time!
8. Is this a business I want to support?
No matter how much you adore a particular piece of furniture, you don’t want to throw your money at an unethical retailer. So before you invest in a new fancy piece of furniture, research the brand to make sure it’s an ethical (i.e. eco-friendly, fair trade, etc.) manufacturer that you’re giving your money to. Websites like The Sustainable Furnishings Council make it easy to figure out which retailers are righteous or not.
9. Is this an investment piece?
This question doesn’t apply to stop-gap needs (like when you pick up a desk lamp just to have one) as much as those pieces that you’re lusting over. Some furnishings are built-to-last a lifetime (with the warranties to boot), but others, sadly, are not. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t splurge on any furniture item that you’ll wind up having to replace in a year or two—think: cheap mattresses, uncomfortable seating, and other poorly made products—because it will inevitably cost you tons more time and money in the long run.