Buying Furniture and Whitegoods For Your First Home
Friday, November 21, 2014
There are a lot of different ways to go about buying furniture and whitegoods for your first home. Cheaply, too.
I come from a very large family. It’s a little scary – because they turn up everywhere. My father, for example, was once in a horrible accident and had to be taken to hospital 100kms away. When he regained consciousness, he discovered the nurse tending to him was his cousin. I worked for a man for two years before I found out he was also my cousin. They’re everywhere.
However, there’s a distinct advantage to being part of such a sprawling dynasty: a similarly endless array of resources to call upon when you’re in need of help. When I was moving out of my home of six years, I didn’t have a television. But, my sister’s boyfriend happened to have an old flatscreen that he’d never offloaded when he upgraded to digital. Which he gifted to me. Problem solved.
This is often how my family tackles problems. When my eldest brother and his wife were moving into their new house, one of my other siblings wanted to know what to get them for their wedding. They said whitegoods. All of a sudden they didn’t need to worry about buying whitegoods for their new home. It’s really just how my family works.
You’d be justified in thinking that such an approach doesn’t really help you unless you’re related to me (though, you could be) – but a family is simply an example of a network. And, in my experience, if you’re looking for furniture and whitegoods, you should always call upon your networks – whether it’s your family, your workmates, your friends or your social media connections.
If we go back to that flatscreen television I ended up with; my sister’s boyfriend got that for a bargain when a friend of his was moving overseas. My entire home office set-up – from my chair to my desk to my scanner – came from old office furniture my work had no use for when they upgraded their office. My dad wanted a bar once – and his neighbour built one for him as a favour.
There are, of course, many other ways to go about buying your furniture and whitegoods inexpensively, though. If you’re looking for a simple approach, you can try and negotiate on price with furniture and whitegoods retailers. A lot of furniture is sold marked-up by as much as 80%; which gives salespeople a lot of leeway for negotiation. Just be respectful and ask.
(A couple more tricks – paying in cash is still a surprisingly effective incentive for retailers to give you a lower price and more than a couple of stores in Australia still offer price-matching. Harvey Norman and The Good Guys for example. Just be sure to read their Terms & Conditions.)
Of course, if you’re buying from a standard retailer, you may find yourself thinking about taking advantage of one of their financing arrangements – like a twelve-months interest-free arrangement. Is it a good idea? Well, not necessarily. There are a lot of ways a retailer will try and make money off of an interest-free deal. You have to be careful.
By way of demonstration – if you don’t make your repayments in time, a retailer may charge you up to 30% interest. Bear in mind, they’re not obligated to tell you when your repayment is due. You should be wary if they offer you a store credit card, too. It encourages you to buy more and the interest rates can be higher than your standard credit card. Again, you just have to be careful.
If you are thinking about financing, there are other options. If you don’t have a fixed-rate home loan, for example, you may be able to borrow additional money as part of your home loan. There are many options for small personal loans from banks and lenders, as well. There are advantages and disadvantages – but it often comes down to whether you can afford to repay the loan or want to be further in debt.
(That said, if you’re on a pension or have a healthcare card, you may actually be eligible for a No or Low Interest Loan Scheme – a government scheme offered to low-income earners to allow them to pay for things like whitegoods and furniture, among other commodities.)
At this point, it’s probably a good idea to mention that a clear and thought-out budget can be invaluable when it comes to making these sorts of decisions. If you haven’t got one, we’ve got you covered. A budget will help you figure out things like how much money you have to spend on furniture and whitegoods and whether you can afford regular repayments on a loan.
Regardless of whether you end up going for financing or not, there are still plenty of cost-effective strategies you’d do well to investigate. For example, purchasing ex-rental appliances from rental companies like Sydney’s RentaCentre or simply rent to own with a company like Radio Rentals.
(If you don’t mind cosmetic damage, you may also want to consider the world of factory seconds – which is functional products that, for whatever reason, retailers can’t sell. 2nds World is a good resource.)
Finally, there’s good old second-hand – whether that be through websites like Gumtree (which also has a freebies section) and eBay (ebay.com.au) or through classic models like auctions (my family is a big fan of Tender Centre or garage sales (if you don’t know any nearby, see if eGarageSales can assist you in finding some in your area).
But, never discount the value of your networks. In writing this article, I (naturally) reached out to my family for advice – and I got a very nice piece of wisdom from my mum that I think will be useful, regardless of how you end up furnishing your home. “If it’s your first home, just focus on what you’re actually going to use.”
It’s tempting to go for shiny features or perfect design – but, if you’re creating a home, it’s a long term project. Think on what you absolutely will need to use. Then, work towards getting what you want further down the track.