A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned
Easy Street is a weekly communiqué from penny-wise Nancy Patterson. Each Wednesday Nancy provides insightful information on how to cut expenses, find the best deals and win at the game of frugality without ever sacrificing personal lifestyle or one’s dignity.
It is Nancy’s belief that one can live their life sparingly, economically and smartly by giving the Jones Family the finger and focusing on personal happiness. Her aim for Easy Street is to show her prudent pupils the easy ways to budget, stick to it and succeed. You can expect to learn money pits to avoid, how to reduce life’s costly ways all the while being proud to do so.
Simple planning ahead and a knack for spendthrift has been Nancy’s philosophy since her early days growing up in the Midwest. Nancy grew up in smaller towns across the Great Lakes where it was a financial necessity to stretch each dollar and find multiple uses for items. She is used to exchanging money saving ways with neighbors, family and friends and was thrilled when her friend Mark Patricks asked her to explain how the rest of us could live as frugally and fruitfully as her. She lives in South Florida with her husband and family.
Some products are cheaper depending on when you buy them. For example grills are cheaper in September than they are in April and May. Engagement rings are cheaper in the summer than they are at the end of the year. Refrigerators are cheaper in May than they are in August.
This is usually because it’s a slow time for retailers (engagement rings and grills) or new models are on their way to the showroom floor (refrigerators). Mattresses don’t follow this cycle, they come out all year round. There really isn’t a slow time of year or a time when new versions come out.
That being said there are two time a year when retailers drop the prices on these bad boys and we are coming up on one of them.
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Mattresses are a high ticket item; generally speaking you’ll pay between $800 and $2,000 for a quality one. That’s a lot of dough to come out of pocket on without some preparation or savings. Because of this it’s a necessity to buy one when it goes on sale. Memorial Day is at the end of May and it’s one of only two times mattress retailers slash prices.
People only buy new mattresses about once a decade so picking out the right one…for the right price…is quite important. You spend about a third of your life sleeping so just buying the cheapest price one isn’t necessarily the smartest money move you can make.
That being said mattresses are one of the most heavily marked up items in the market today. It’s not uncommon for retailers to list one for double what it paid the manufacturer. That leaves you, the consumer, a lot of wiggle room to negotiate a better price than what’s listed on the sales ticket.
If you’re worried about haggling over price, don’t. In a study by Consumer Reports, 72 percent of shoppers were successful in negotiating a lower price on a mattress purchase. It’s a common practice in the industry. As a rule of thumb you should never pay sticker price.
So what are the best haggling tactics at mattress retailers? Besides shopping during sale season, knowing which retailers are best will save you a lot of greenbacks. There’s fairly stiff competition in the mattress industry. While there are a few national chain stores, the industry is mostly made up of small, regional chains within an area.
There will likely be three or four of these regional chains in your area. Given the intense competition between these companies you should be able to pit them against each other for your business.
Shopping at a department store or a retailer that only sells one type of mattress won’t get you as good of a deal. Oftentimes these stores won’t negotiate, although they sometimes will price-match if you bring in an ad for a mattress you saw at another stores.
But let’s get back to pitting these small chain stores against each other to get the best possible deal. Most of these regional outfits advertise in print media, like the Sunday newspaper. If you’re in the market for a new mattress it’s important you get your hands on a copy of the Sunday edition of your area’s major newspaper and pull out any ads relating to mattresses.
Comb over all the advertisements to get a base line of what mattresses are selling for in your neck of the woods. Now the sales price listed in these ads is not the price you should pay. No, use these prices as a guide to know what you should pay less than. Anything at or above advertised price is not a good deal.
Secondly, you should use these advertisements as ammunition to pit each store against each other. Show the salesperson the kind of deals advertised at the other store and tell him to convince you to buy from him. Let him know in this conversation that price is king.
Another haggling secret I found came from someone who used to work at one of these small, regional chains. He likened shopping for a mattress to shopping for a car in that once you negotiate a purchase price there are a bunch of other fees the retailer will make you pay. Box springs…delivery fee…bed frame…disposal fees for your old mattress, all of these are additional charges a retailer will try to tack onto your purchase. Don’t let the sales guy give you a great price on the mattress, just to turn around and drive up the final price with these other fees! Instead, tell the clerk a grand total you are willing to pay for everything. He can write up the items however he wants, but the grand total must be at or lower than the price you’ve told him. For example, say something like, “I’m prepared to write you check for $850, and you can use whatever accounting technique you want to get to that number, but $850 is my limit for everything.” This tactic puts you in the driver’s seat and circumvents the salesman fr
om making up a big discount on the mattress with other fees.
A salesman is more likely to give you the deal you want if there is no one else around to hear him do it. The last thing these guys want is for another customer to overhear you getting a deal that is below the advertised price. To accomplish this you’ll need to use a lower tone of voice and speak to the salesman when there aren’t a lot of other shoppers around. Saturday and Sunday afternoons are the busiest times for these retailers so I don’t suggest trying to buy a mattress during either of these times. If at all possible shop in the morning, during the week to avoid the crowds.
Any salesman worth his salt will try to steer you towards the higher priced mattresses. He makes more of a commission, the higher the price tag so it’s only natural for him to disparage a lower priced mattress. The truth is that buying a mattress is highly subjective. Most product rating companies don’t offer advice on what the best mattresses are for your money because there is no consensus among consumers on what is the best type of mattress. That’s why the best thing to do is to buy the mattress that feels best to you, not one that’s gotten good reviews or is all the rage.
To find which model is right for you, you are going to have to test several of them out. Lay on several different ones for ten to fifteen minutes at a time in various sleeping positions. That is the minimum amount of time you need in order to evaluate the comfort level. All mattresses feel great for the first few minutes you lay on them. Instead lay down on a mattress with your hands at your sides for several minutes and then switch to a different sleeping position such as on your side or stomach.
Since this is a highly subjective purchase don’t start with the mattresses on the high end of the spectrum. Instead, start with the cheaper models and work your way up. If you find something you like among the less expensive models there is no reason to buy one of the higher end models.
Most of the things mattress salesmen talk about is all marketing hype. Don’t let them draw you to the higher priced models with talk about coil counts and stitching types. A higher coil count doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality. A lot of times salespeople will stress that a higher coil count is better for you. While this is true, the amount of coils per square inch isn’t giving you the whole picture. Coils might be made from different materials or in different ways. A mattress with coils made from a separate piece of wire are likely to do a better job of conforming to the contours of your spine than a mattress with coils made from continuous strands of wire, even if the coil count isn’t as high.
Another tactic these retailers use to drive up the purchase price is to insist you buy the corresponding box spring. You’ll probably hear a line about how the matching box spring will extend the life of your mattress or how it will make the bed more comfortable overall or how the guarantee isn’t valid unless you purchase the set. This, of course, is all rubbish.
You probably grew up being told to flip your mattress from time to time to extend the life of it. Modern day mattresses no longer require you to flip them and they don’t require box springs anymore either. Have you ever looked inside a box spring before? It’s really just simple wood and wire frame wrapped in fabric. Their only purpose is to raise the height of your bed.
If your current box spring is still in good working order-no sagging or broken slats-you can continue to use it instead of buying a new one. Furthermore if you have a platform bed you can skip the box spring altogether.
With Memorial Day right around the corner, that doesn’t leave you a lot of time to scrap together the $1,000 or so you’ll need to buy a new mattress. If you are in the market for a new one, but just can’t swing this big ticket purchase this month, don’t sweat it. You have a few months to save up some money before the next big sale season on mattresses starts. Start setting aside $150-200 a month for the next four months so when Labor Day sales pop up the purchase won’t take such a big bite out of your paycheck that month.
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Keeping Money in Your Pocket,
Also, be sure to tap seasonal sales. Mattress discounts jump during patriotic holidays such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day