Small ways to save big on major purchases

Note: This guest post was written by Jessica Demasi, instructional designer for Money Management International.

I have never bought a brand new “big ticket” item. I’ve always had hand-me-downs or garage sale finds. Seeing as how I’m closer to 30 than I’d like to admit, I decided that 2011 would be the year I’d focus on replacing some of these items. Not because I want to, but because I need to. Case in point, my mattress was old; so old in fact I’m embarrassed to say exactly how old. So, yes, this had clearly been escalated from want to need.

So, I set my budget for a new mattress at $1,000, started saving, researched mattresses, and did price comparisons. I also subscribed to Groupon and LivingSocial for leads on great deals around my city. One day the Groupon deal was for $200 of merchandise at Mattress Firm for $40. I jumped on it! I had been looking at Mattress Firm during my research and knew they had a clearance center nearby and the Groupon was redeemable on all sale and clearance items. Plus, I had 10 Groupon Bucks for referring a friend to the site so it only cost me $30 for $200 of merchandise!

But I still didn’t run out and get a mattress that day. I had six months to use my Groupon so I kept researching.

Then, Mattress Firm had a sale on their entire line of Sealy mattresses. I had done enough research to know that Sealy was a great product and that Mattress Firm has a 10 year warranty on their Sealy items. Armed with my budget of $1,000 and my $200 Groupon I went to the clearance center and tested beds. The bed I liked was marked down to $1,000. The Sealy sale took an additional $100 off and my Groupon knocked another $200 off, making the bed total $700!

Next, I asked about the warranty and how to properly care for the mattress. The sales representative introduced a great product, Protect-A-Bed, which as the name suggests, protects the bed by absorbing any liquids (did you know you secrete up to 1 pint of sweat a night?!). While, somewhat expensive at $119 for a queen size bed, it is definitely worth the price. It extends the life of your mattress and for people like me who hold onto mattresses for the better part of a quarter century, this was perfect. What could be better? How about getting 20 percent off because the package was damaged? With this discount, the cover cost $95!

So, after taxes, my grand total for the box set, Protect-A-Bed cover and delivery was $937! I stayed under budget and got more than I anticipated! Needless to say, I was a happy customer.

Now you tell me, who wouldn’t sleep like a baby after getting a deal like this?

You can take advantage of similar great deals! Just follow these consumer strategies for purchasing big ticket items:

  • Research, research, research. Compare prices at a minimum of three stores. This is easily accomplished via the internet.
  • Set a budget for the item and save before you purchase. Although you may see a sale before you have the money saved, remember, there will be other sales. Resist the temptation to purchase too soon and leave yourself vulnerable to a financial hardship.
  • Always ask about and research warranties.
  • Read labels and know how to care for the products you buy to extend their quality.

Want to know more about how to get the same deal as I did?

  • Check to see if there are Groupon and LivingSocial deals in your area.
  • Did you recently purchase a new mattress? Check out Protect-A-Bed to protect your investment from bed bugs and sweat!

About the author: Jessica Demasi graduated from the University of Houston–Clear Lake in 2006 and began working at Money Management International shortly thereafter. As an instructional designer, she works hard to keep counselors up to date on industry knowledge and offer consumers proven money management techniques. She enjoys reading, running, vacationing on a budget, and live music.

 You might also enjoy reading:

Make your own Groupon
Service contracts are sometimes a disservice
Smart splurging
The worst they can say is "no" 

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.