Tuesday, January 8, 2008

We Bought A Couch - Finally!

Time to relax
And We Bought A Couch - Finally!

What took longer - finding a house, starting a side business or finding the perfect couch? Yeah - the couch is the winner by taking almost a year of bargain hunting, reviewing options, sitting on a few hundred couches and discussing couches ad nauseam. But like most things in life - there is always a lesson to be learned!

Men and women shop differently
No mystery here - men are more logical and decisive whereas women are more emotional and exploratory. I am generalizing but at a personal level that is how we are (Mr. and Mrs. Runta). Over the years we have learnt to shop smart by exploiting our personalities. The wife does the scouting and researching and vacillating - which she enjoys. We join forces to conduct final evaluation and decision-making. Seems to work for us.

Know what you want
Smart shopping starts by knowing what you want and what your budget is before you get to the store. Our strategy is to review catalogs, discuss features with friends, read reviews and form a loose opinion about what we are seeking and the price range. You need to 'kick the tires' at the store but you can do most of your research at home. And one more time - define your budget!

Quality, time and cost
Usage and duration requirements indicate quality, which dictates price. A couch is a long-term buy with strong usage requirements thereby quality is important. To buy quality you should be willing to pay a premium, which in my experience is worth it.

Sales, sale, sale
If it is a pre-planned purchase you should always wait for the super-sale. There are a few times a year when you get those opportunities but if you can afford to wait, the price discounts can be substantial. If you are unsure about upcoming sales or need more information - asks the store manager about it.

How are you going to pay
Store financing, credit card, cash, first-born - have you reviewed your payment options. My preference is no-interest store financing if I get more than a year to pay. You can earn interest for a year on that money which is always nice. Cash back via a credit card also has some incentives. If you go for store financing - make sure to read the fine print and understand the interest, payment and penalty clauses before you sign.

Avoid the sales pitch
Stick to your primary purchase and avoid the sales persons overtures to buy add-ons. Add-on warranty, maintenance kit, service contracts etc. might not be necessary unless you have researched and deem any such add-on to be a requirement.

Always ask
It never hurts to ask for any ongoing discounts or deals. On our recent purchase - the store was offering 5% off if paying upfront. We also asked for free delivery and the sales clerk agreed. That is a $120 saving - just for asking.

An exhausting experience but thankfully there is a nice reclining couch to relax on till the next shopping adventure begins.

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