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On Buying The Couch

27 Dec

I bought a couch today. This is blog-worthy as it’s the first piece of furniture I’ve purchased on my own, and also because couch-buying turned out to be more of an adventure than I expected.

I’ve been in the market for a new couch for about six months now. The old one is still functional (doubly so in fact, as it’s a sleeper sofa), but it’s second hand and has seen more than it’s fair share of bodies, both human and animal. It’s also small, and the only couch I own. It was time to go for something newer, bigger, and just generally more conducive to having more than one friend over at a time.

Cue the planning stage. There was the financial planning, which was easy enough. I added a line item on my budget to save a little bit each month. A bonus from work helped greatly in this area. I was aiming for the $500 range, which my research said would allow me to get a nice non-leather (because of rabbits. Or actually, because of just one rabbit who loves to chew leather) sofa that could accommodate 2-3 of my friends, depending on how much we liked each other at the time.

There was also the spacial planning. Anyone who has heard me tell the story of the time I slammed my thumb in a drawer in front of the district manager knows that I have issues in this area. (Read The Bureaucracy Strikes Back if you want to hear that story, and also find out why I’m not allowed to fill out accident reports anymore.) I can visualize what I want a room to look like, but furniture always seems to grow or shrink in size in my imagination, resulting in rooms that don’t work nearly as well in reality.

My plan was to move the old couch into the office to turn it into a guest room/library. In my head, the furniture already in there could easily move to allow for the 73-inch wide couch.

I was wrong. Very wrong.

Not only would the couch not fit, I had forgotten that the chosen wall for said couch turns about 20 degrees halfway along it. The couch also wouldn’t fit along the opposite wall, which is split by a 4-inch recess. This left me with one wall, which would have been fine, except for the sleeper sofa part. The couch couldn’t sit in the corner and still be extended into a bed, due to the aforementioned wall angle, but offsetting the couch meant the desk would not longer fit in the opposite corner. On top of all of this, three side tables and a bookcase needed to be removed from the office altogether.

Like I said, I have definite spacial processing issues.

After several hours of organizing and staring blankly at walls which refused to move to suit my whims, I managed to clear off the one bookcase and all three side tables. Even more amazing, all that stuff fit nicely onto the other two bookcases left in the room.

Once I got the couch into place, I realized that I could reduce the amount of space in the room blocked off from the rabbit (who likes chewing cables almost as much as leather) and allow her access to the rest of the room.

Cue one very confused rabbit, who nonetheless has already claimed the spot under the table as her own.

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With the rearranging done, it was time to literally fill the space with something new. I called my mom and invited her on a shopping trip. She agreed, probably because she didn’t really know what she was getting into with me, and off we went.

The first store was a bust. None of the couches had the proper squishy-cushion-to-price ratio, and there was another couch-tester in the store. It’s hard to properly determine a sofa’s cushiness when there’s someone over your shoulder waiting their turn to have a seat.

The second and third stores were also busts, and I mean that somewhat literally, as both were closing. One store was moving to another location and had 4 ovens and 3 increasingly sad looking mismatched recliners left. The other looked to have a promising couch, but had closed forever a few days before. That took care of the discount stores in town. It was off to the retail chains for us.

After lunch, of course. That wasn’t part of the original plan, but to grossly paraphrase Ghostbusters: when your mother asks you if you’d like to go to lunch, you say yes.

We next found ourselves at a big-name furniture store, mainly because it was across the street from the cafe. And there, tucked into the back left corner of the showroom, I found it. The couch with the perfect squishy-cushion-to-price ratio, in the right color, and in the right size. It was comfy, it was large, it matched my existing decor, and it was under my $500 budget. By $1, but hey, under is under.

Cue the salesman working on commission. After informing me that there was no flex room in the price, he gave me a delivery charge estimate. I’d forgotten to factor delivery into my budget, so there was a bit of an awkward pause while I mentally recalculated my available funds. Seeing my hesitation, the salesman launched into his “interest-free financing until 2015” spiel. This led to my spiel about why I don’t finance anything (short version- so I can’t lose anything if the bottom falls out of my employment), and a slightly more awkward walk to the register for all of us.

Over the course of checking out, the salesman and I repeated ourselves a few more times, as he tried to sell me on various extras and I insisted that a stain treatment, no matter how cool, would not make an extra $70 appear in my bank account. Throughout it all, my mom sat on an oddly-stitched leather sofa and watched. I arranged for delivery, completed the transaction, and got a high-five from mom for being only $4.53 over budget.

As we left the store, I thanked my mom for coming with me. She responded with, “I feel like I didn’t really do anything. You were making all really good choices.”

You guys, receiving that validation was better than finding the perfect couch within my budget.

Also, the couch will be here on Thursday.

The (50% off) Descent

12 Jan

Well, it finally happened.

I resisted as long as I could.

I told myself I didn’t need them.

That I was just fine without them.

My life was complete.

I’m so ashamed.

That’s right, I’ve become…

A couponer.

Just now, I started a Google search for pictures of crazy couponers, and I lost 20 minutes while looking for cheddar cheese coupons (that stuff’s expensive, you know).  Earlier today, I spend 45 minutes trying to get around another website’s print limit when my printer decided to eat the page mid-print.  (It turns out Coupons.com is surprisingly easy to beat, but that’s beside the point here).

The point is I’m sitting at my desk with a stack of papers and a grocery list, ready to do battle with Wal-Mart over retail prices on gluten-free spaghetti.  I tell myself that it’s because gluten-free foods run $2-3 more than their gluten-containing counterparts, and I’m just ensuring my dietary needs don’t run me into the poorhouse.  But that’s just the surface reason.

What I’m pretty sure has happened here is that my need to save money hasn’t evaporated along with my student loans.  The debt is gone but the penny-saving mentality remains.  Now it has gotten me lost in the land of anti-retail, searching for that elusive unicorn of coupons: the buy one, get one free.

BOGO sign

Sshh, don’t make a sound. You’ll startle it away.

So far, I’ve managed to stay to the light side- only using coupons on items (and quantities) I already plan to purchase, not trying to sneak expired or illegally doubled coupons by the cashier, and keeping my total number of coupons to under 7.  I fear the day may come when I let the sales dictate what I’m eating that week.  From there, it’s only a short slide until I find myself in a dark pantry surrounded by 1500 packs of paper towels, 16000 rolls of toilet paper, 3 camping stoves, and 17 gallons of ranch dressing, defying the government to come take my preciouses away.  (Someone promise me you’ll do an intervention before I reach that point.  Like, maybe after the second camping stove purchase.)

Until I reach that point of no return, I’ve got errands to run.  I found this great coupon for air fresheners that stacks with a coupon for ranch dres…. I mean, I’ve got 50 cents off Glutino-brand cereal.  Yes, that’s the coupon I meant.

Anyone have a good couponing story they’d like to share to make me laugh/feel better about my new habit/warn me off the path of addiction?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

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