Financing Furniture At 0% Is For Suckers

Furniture 0 percent financingEvery time I drive by a furniture store I see signage that says something like “THIS WEEK ONLY – 48 Months 0% Financing!!!” I’m always amazed how these deals are for a limited time only because the stores always seem to be running them. Maybe they just change the length of the financing so that the current sale is actually a limited time offer.

The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t really matter how long the furniture stores are offering 0% financing for. Why? You should never, ever finance furniture. Especially if you couldn’t pay for it in cash today.

Why You Shouldn’t Finance Furniture

Furniture is a consumer good and, as you know, I am completely against consumer debt! Of course, if you had cash to pay for it and decided to finance your furniture to use arbitrage and make some money by keeping that cash in the bank, I’d normally say that’s OK. After all, that’s what I did when I bought my first ever new car.

However, in this particular situation I don’t think financing to use arbitrage is a great idea.

Why Using Financing Arbitrage On Furniture Is A Bad Idea

First off, if you miss a payment on your furniture loan, you’re likely going to pay a very pretty penny. Your interest rate will spike from 0% to 20% or more and that interest will be applied retroactively to when you purchased the furniture. It’s a very expensive mistake to make. That isn’t the only reason though.

If that isn’t bad enough, buying furniture on a 0% promo can destroy your credit. Chances are that your credit line will be the same exact amount as your purchase which will result in your credit utilization rate spiking. This will be a big hit on your credit score because credit utilization makes up 30% of your credit score. I’d hate for a 0% furniture loan to end up causing you to have a higher interest rate on a future mortgage. That’d cost you thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars.

Furniture can be expensive and furniture stores know that. By dragging out the price of the furniture into monthly payments with no interest, it makes the furniture seem cheaper and might cause you to end up spending more than you had planned.

Furniture stores also know that if you finance over a long period of time, any discount they give would only be a few dollars a month at most. Due to that fact, they’re not going to offer discounts to try to get you to buy. Instead, they’ll waive the monthly payment in front of your face as a better way to afford the furniture.

So How Should You Buy Furniture?

There is a way to get a discounts on your furniture at these stores, they just don’t advertise it. Instead of financing your furniture or putting it on a credit card to get 1% cash back, try offering to pay in cash. Many furniture retailers will offer discounts if you simply pay with the green stuff from the ATM. You might be shocked by how much you could save!

Want to save even more money on your furniture? Don’t buy from furniture stores! New furniture is marked up by huge percentages. As soon as you take it home it will lose a ton of value. Much like a new car when you drive it off the lot. So how else can you get furniture?

Easy – Craiglist!

Take a look on craigslist to try to find a piece of furniture that fits your style. If you do a bit of research to make sure you’re buying quality furniture you could easily save hundreds or thousands off what the original owner paid at the furniture store.

Yes, it might have some scratches, but that’s just fine! You would have ended up scratching it anyway and now you don’t have to worry about it because someone else already scratched it for you and it ended up saving you money!

I want to know about your furniture adventures! Have you ever gotten a cash discount at the furniture store? Have you ever scored an amazing deal on craiglist or a yard sale? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.

Comments

  1. Bryce @ Save and Conquer says:

    I’ve written about our eclectic collection of furniture in the past. We have dressers that are probably 40 years old mixed in with quite a bit of garage sale furniture. Our most recent furniture purchase was a master bedroom set that we bought 15 years ago. It still looks the same as it did when we bought it. I doubt we will be buying any new furniture anytime soon.

  2. Lance – nice insights on buying furniture with this post. Most of this I didn’t know. I never thought about the 0% marketing tactic used to just get you to buy the furniture.

    Are there any tactics that a consumer can use when buying new furniture from a furniture store to lower the price? or would you recommend just avoiding furniture stores all-together?

    • I would always ask for a discount, do some research online and be prepared to pay with cash if you want to buy from a store. Honestly, you’ll probably get the best deals buying used quality furniture not the cheap stuff from the stores.

  3. Crap! I bought all my furniture on this deal years ago! Oh, well :) Fortunately I know how to handle purchases like this and know well, well in advance when I need to have it paid off so that I never pay a lick of money in interest. Even though I agree with the warning, I should also state that our credit score has been fine.

  4. We won’t be buying any more furniture until our youngest turns 6. They have already torn up so much stuff so it’d be a complete waste to get anything nice. But we certainly planned to pay with cash, now I will know to ask for a discount. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Good stuff! Another reason not to take these furniture offers is that if you go past the 48 month 0% time period and still have a balance they charge you all of the interest back retroactively. That’s a huge finance charge all at once.

  6. Ben Franklin (pre death) says:

    When buying a new house, these deals are second to none. There’s nothing difficult about making a payment properly every month. If you’re taking on a new $2800 per month payment and you can’t handle making another $125 payment consistently, then you probably have a lot more to worry about than a few hundred dollars in back interest. It is much more preferable to be able to buy all the furniture for your new home in one place at the same time than having to coordinate buying a few dozen pieces of used furniture and decorative pieces separately from Craig’s list. Furthermore, I wouldn’t want my kid sitting on some stranger’s couch who could have used the couch in a dozen unscrupulous ways. All for what? To save $1000? Make your monthly payments properly, for god’s sake, and take the free loan to buy some good quality furniture that doesn’t have someone else’s history inside the fabric.

    • I think you missed the point I was trying to make.

      • Ben Franklin (pre death) says:

        Actually, I think I addressed each of your points in a single, succinct paragraph. Additionally, unless your only form of credit is the furniture loan (does this even go on the trade lines as revolving credit?) your utilization won’t be near 100%. And to add to the scenario I laid out in my first post, your credit is already hit pretty hard with a brand new mortgage what with a couple hard pulls and 100s of thousands of “new credit”. By the time your credit score recovers from the mortgage, your furniture loan has become another account that is paid as agreed and nearly paid off on your credit report. So it ends up helping your score by diversifying your report and having another account on file that’s paid as agreed. If you pay your bills properly, these deals are nothing short of great.

        If you can’t pay your bills properly, then steer clear of these deals.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Financing Furniture At 0% Is For Suckers- Since home decorating is the theme of the day, Lance from moneymanifesto.com has some good advice on buying furniture.  Regular ABC readers will know that craigslist is my furniture store of choice. […]

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