You're Doing It Wrong: Financing furniture in your 20s

Anyone whose ever walked into Crate and Barrel with any semblance of a budget is familiar with furniture sticker shock. Crap is expensive. You want $899 for a chipboard nightstand? A nightstand in a cute-as-hell shade of blue with just the right amount of distressing, but still, money doesn't grow on trees, especially when you're in your 20s.

Back to Goodwill you go, if you know what's good for you. You can whip a belt at a dresser to get that worn-in look you crave, and a little paint does wonders.

Alas, some of us do not know what's good for us. That's why the retail industry created financing.

If you are financing your living room at 26, you're doing it wrong.

But you needed a couch, and a table, and an ottoman, and lamps, and those throw pillows, that cozy blanket included in the display and that decorative lion. And they offered really low interest, spread over 12 months.

Stop. Your reasons are no good here.

1. Interest: No matter how low you consider really low to be, it's still in addition to the cost of the items. Sure, maybe they offered you a deal on the couch, but that's because they know that over time they'll make up that 15 percent discount - and more - when they bill you for your monthly installment (*cringe*) and the interest fee. Is paying more over time - for things you don't really need, in the food, water, shelter sense - something you really want to do? By the time you've (over)paid that coffee table off, you might have rings in the wood or a couple missing screws.

2. Twelve months. Twelve easy payments. At this stage of the game - the stage where you're financing furniture because you don't have the cash to pay for your stuff in the first place - a lot of crap could happen in 12 months. It's a risk to take on any "fixed bills." You might lose your job, or have to move on short notice ($$), or get pregnant ($$$$$$$) or something else might happen that would require you to dip into that rainy day fund that all 20-somethings have.

........

By contrast, you might also get a great new job that pays sick money or come into an inheritance or win a sweepstakes or any number of things that would mean you're sitting pretty on a pile-o-cash. That's GREAT, but you're doing it WAY wrong if you count on that.

So don't take on the cost of all this furniture, the added cost of not being able to pay for it now, and the reponsibility of paying for it on time, over time. 

 

To put it simply, and to quote my wise-beyond-his-years boyfriend, walking into a store with the intention of financing is akin to approaching the cashier and saying:

 

"Hi, I'd like to spend outside my means today."

 

Moral of the story: A secondhand dresser and Anthropologie-sale-rack drawer pulls. You can't lose.

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