Hannah blogs about money and marriage at Monogamoney.com. Topics include saving, budgeting, investing, travel, and The Dark Knight.
I was inpsired by Make Love Not Debt to start my own personal finance blog, Monogamoney. So I was honored when Him & Her asked me to guest post during their wedding and honeymoon. Since my blog focuses as much on personal finance failures, as on our rare successes, I decided that in my first guest post, I should discuss the worst money mistake that I have ever made.
Shopping for a mattress when you’ve been sleeping poorly is like riding your bike to a car dealership. Shopping for a mattress when you’ve recently gotten a raise … is just plain dangerous.
And that is how my husband and I ended up with a $4,000 mattress. More precisely, we ended up with a $2,000 mattress, for which we paid $4,000.
It started on the day I accepted a new job with a nice salary increase. We’d both been sleeping badly, and both of us had back pain. “Let’s go bed shopping now,” my husband said. “Maybe we can be sleeping on a new bed tonight.” It was 7 p.m. By 7:25 p.m., we had a new $3,000 bed. With taxes and delivery fees, the cost came to almost $3,500.
The next day, I bragged about our purchase to one of my friends, who was shocked that we’d paid so much. I paid her little heed; you spend a third of your life in bed, right? Then Jon told his friend Dave about it. Dave always gets the best of everything. Dave is willing to pay for quality. And even Dave thought $3,000 was too much to pay for a bed. That’s when I got that sinking feeling–the one that says, “I just made a huge mistake I can’t undo.”
But wait—it gets worse.
I didn’t like the bed. I felt terrible that I’d made such a hasty purchase, and was sure that I had made the wrong decision. Luckily, Sleepy’s allows you to exchange your new bed, one time, as long as it’s within three weeks of the original purchase. So I went back. I lay on several different beds. I brought friends and solicited their opinions. I took my time to decide. Finally, I decided on one that cost $2,000.
Here’s the problem. Sleepy’s allows you to exchange your bed for one of equal or greater value. They won’t give you a refund if you decide on a cheaper bed. So we had to exchange our $3,000 mattress for a new, $2,000 mattress–and $1,000 worth of Tempur-Pedic pillows. Including the delivery fees and the exchange fee, our total bill came to over $4,000. We hereby apologize to all our recently-married friends who received pillows as wedding presents.
So what lessons did I learn?
1. Whenever you get a raise, put a moratorium on spending. Don’t allow yourself to make any purchases, at least until you get your first paycheck. Then you’ll realize how much of your raise went to the U.S. government, and you won’t feel nearly as euphoric about it. We spent the first four months of my new job paying off our credit card bill.
2. Implement a mandatory waiting period for any purchases over a certain amount of money. The Ultimate Cheapskate, the guy who inspired us to budget [LINK: http://monogamoney.wordpress.com/about/], makes this suggestion as well.
3. Do your research. In the end, this terrible purchase was our own fault, but I could write a whole separate blog entry on the half-truths we heard from the Sleepy’s salesman. The bottom line: The Internet is a fabulous research tool. Use it before you make a purchase, not after.
4. Finally, as the Ultimate Cheapskate says, “Pinch the dollars and the pennies will pinch themselves.” Jon and I have been known to go to three different grocery stores in order to save 89 cents on cheese. If we had skipped all that, and simply not bought the bed, we still would have come out ahead.
Have you ever made a money mistake as bad as this one? Okay, probably not. Have you ever made a money mistake HALF as bad as this one? No? One-quarter, maybe? Surely, some of you have made mistakes one-quarter as bad as this …