Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Big purchases

I've come to the conclusion that everyone has their own definition of what constitutes a big purchase -- the ones you have to think about and analyze the hell out of before forking over the cash. I read an article recently that suggested we should use our gut/intuition for decisions our cave-person ancestors could relate to, (i.e. deciding where to live) but should use logic to make decisions our ancestors could not relate to (i.e. stocks vs bonds).

For me, I've realized over the years that my ability to make what most people would consider big purchases, and even impulse purchase, has nothing to do with the dollar amount involved. Or, at least, that's not the most important factor.

Not that I've really figured out what all the factors are. But I do know that I can fork over a scary amount of money for a fabulous pair of shoes with very little thought. Ditto on clothes. Ditto on fine craft items like ceramics, or glass or jewelery. I'm a sucker for well-made handcrafted things. (Don't even get me started on one-of-a-kind handmade shoes or clothes. Best of both worlds.) Okay, maybe I'm figuring out one of my factors here. I love beautiful things and when I see something I want, I can usually find a way to come up with the money to buy it. Self indulgent? Maybe. But I like buying nice gifts too.

Furniture is another matter... although I have a caveat. I have dining room furniture I love. And some beautiful antique pieces -- but they're all side pieces -- straight backed chairs, bookcases, consoles, sideboards. But a sofa??? Comfortable chairs to sit in??? I have never, ever, been able to fork over the bucks for anything like that. Instead, I have horrible, ugly, hand-me-down or garage sale pieces supplemented by a few pieces of cheap IKEA disposable crap.

Why can't I buy a couch? Some nice easy chairs?

My younger sister just moved into a new place and has no furniture (long story) and I've offered her the sofa-bed I inherited from the previous owners of my house (they were throwing it out) and the loveseat I bought for $50 from someone I rented from when I first moved back to Toronto. These are pieces of furniture I want to get out of my house, mostly because of the incredibly powerful inertia they seem to create. (Can inertia be created?) It's like they've a vortex sucking my decision making abilty into its depths. My hope? Once they're out of my house and I'm left with nothing to sit on, I'll finally be able to make a big decision and buy a new sofa...

Should I focus on design or comfort? Modern? Retro? Traditional? Funky? Neutral? Bright? Bold? Upolstered? Leather? Soft? Firm? Ack! What am I going to do?

What kinds of purchases are difficult for you? Which ones are just a little too easy?

10 comments:

Kimber said...

I have zero hesitation forking over big cash for investment pieces (i.e. furniture, art, antiques, real estate which will either stay neutral or go up in value).

I used to have an issue with paying for services including advice. A couple very, very, very bad decisions and I'm now cured (did I mention very bad?).

The biggest buying hesitation I have now is with vehicles. Although we never buy new, I still have problems justifying the expense.

Christine said...

If I actually had the money to fork over I'd do it with most things. That's why I married my husband...he's my impulse control. :)

I like comfortable furniture, but it has to look nice. A more modern look for me.

Maia said...

I can pay way too much for a handbag, for some reason, even more than shoes. Although, I did eye a pair of Burberry patent leather ankle boots in a lovely gray color at Holt Renfrew a few days ago. The price tag? $750.00. I just can't justify it on something that will be out of style next year.

Re furniture. I used to always have hand-me down sofas and they were way more comfortable than the Montauk down filled sofa and love seat I bought four years ago. Go figure.

Joanne Levy said...

I have no trouble spending hundreds on my pets - regardless of the fact that my husband has banned me from buying any more dog toys, I can't help myself.

But I own a total of three bags - one summer, one winter and one weekend (which is actually a MEC fanny pack.

We buy most of our furniture appliances at Sears because we are boring and like that we can get everything under one roof.

As far as large purchases - my parents are both in real estate so I know I've made wise decisions there (and saved a bundle on commissions!)

Maureen McGowan said...

Ha! Kimber. You're talking to a woman with a 17 year old car.

Christine, I'm torn between the looks nice and comfort thing right now -- especially because I have smallish rooms and the "comfortable" sofas these days tend to fit into those monster homes in the suburbs best.

Maia... I love handbags, too... but I'm definately more about the shoes. Takes too much work to switch between handbags so I tend to settle on one and use it for ages. (But have quite a few in my closet that have barely seen the light of day.)

Joanne... I'd actually put my house in the impulse purchase column. I know. Scary. I know first hand how impulse purchasing real estate can lead to major buyer remorse. I've been in this house almost 6 years and I still haven't fully moved in because I keep thinking I'll sell.

Wylie Kinson said...

HA! I'm the last one to chime in. We moved to Canada exactly two years ago. My dining room still has NO furniture and my living room was empty for over a year. It's not so much the money but the choices! Like you said - modern or classic, comfy or fashion, colors, patterns, GAH!! It's all too much...

Kimber said...

"You're talking to a woman with a 17 year old car."

12 years here, purchased as a crash car (I have a soft spot for broken things).

Kristin said...

The best thing I ever did was call up an interior designer and spend $150 for her to come look at a room we wanted to redo...then she went shopping with us. It was the most freeing shopping experience of my life. She knew what size and style to look for and guided us to the right ones, helped us pick out fabrics. It was great. We chose a couch, a loveseat, club chairs, coffeetable, and a sofa table in less than 2 hours.

I highly recommend it. If you're going to spend $1500 or more on a couch, you better like it for a long time.

You just have to make sure that you find an interior designer who will take you to discount furniture places or will work within a certain budget.

Karen In Toronto said...

I can remember researching the best mini-van to buy...price, safety, fuel consumption.

That all went out the window I saw the coffee cup holder.

You gotta have your priorities in the right place.

Maureen McGowan said...

Karen. The last car I bought was in 1990 and I basically bought the car my younger brother told me to buy. (I so don't do cars.)

But 17 years later... What is it that makes me want to get rid of it??? It has no cup holder.

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