Budget, Furniture, Money, Shopping, Spending

I Need Help. Furniture Help.

I feel antsy and unsettled and malcontent. How’s that for an opening sentence?

A lot of factors are combining to make me feel this way, but I think that the last adjective I used in my first sentence pretty well sums it up – I’m not content. I think that, sometimes, not being happy with your situation is a good thing. Like when you’re working a dead-end job with no potential and you really, really need to get your butt in gear and go back to school. Or when you’re dating a guy who’s a jerk and you need to leave him. But I’m not talking about any of those kinds of situations. I’m talking about… dare I say it?… Furniture!

I’m actually kind of embarrassed to write about this, because I know that I should strive to be happy and content in every situation. Financially speaking, Chris and I are doing great. We both have great jobs, we’re both well-educated (Chris has 3 degrees and pulling in at a close second with my measly 2 degrees), and we both have wonderful families. I’m just not happy with our furniture. Why? Let me show you:

This would be one of many end tables that have water rings on them. How they got there, I don’t know, but I believe that it may have something to do with Chris constantly forgetting to use a coaster…

Our “dining room” table – you can’t really tell from this picture, but it sways in the middle, and the caning is starting to fall off the chairs.

Our one and only dresser. That’s right – only one dresser. And I only get 1 drawer – the rest of my stuff hangs in the closet or is under the bed, packed away.
OK – I actually really like my filing cabinet, even if the color is gross. I need a place for all of my documents and paperwork, and I don’t know what I’d do without this. I just wish that it didn’t look so institutional.

And last but not least, the piece de resistance of our “shabby(est) chic” decor – the $200 Big Lots fudge-brown faux corduroy couch. That’s right – faux corduroy. Ai yi yi.

Of course, there are many more pieces that aren’t pictured, such as the desk and chair that I’m currently sitting at. It’s the same set that I’ve had since elementary school, complete with dinosaur heart sticker that my sister put on the underside of the drawer. Chris’ desk is even fancier – he gets a rectangular card table. And our bed is just the bare metal frame on top of risers so that all of our winter clothes can be stored underneath.

I do have some nice pieces, like the huge cedar chest that belonged to Chris’ grandmother, or the full length oak mirror that my parents gave me a few years back, or the pretty demi-lune hall table (another of Chris’ grandmother’s pieces). It’s just that the ugly stuff outnumbers the nice stuff. We’ve also got the Wal-Mart-fabulous bookshelves and the black pressboard DVD holder from Target. There’s also the old, oversized wooden milk crate in magenta that holds our TV and other electronic stuff.

Speaking of electronics, I will say that what we have in that department is very nice. My computer is about 3 years old and has never given me more than a few moments’ worth of trouble. Chris has 3 laptops – his work laptop, his super-deluxe fancy schmancy laptop that his parents’ gave him for Christmas, and his “spare” laptop (yes, he has a spare laptop). We’ve also got the Bose speakers, a coffee maker that is probably smarter than I am, my super-nice camera, and our ginormous flat screen HD TV.

Funny story about that TV. We got it as a Christmas gift from my in-laws, and it was supposed to be a couch, or at least so I thought. You see, MIL and FIL asked us if we would prefer a TV or a new couch. I told Chris that I would really, really like a new couch, and asked him to relay this to his mom. Somehow, we ended up with the TV. Hmm, strange…. I wonder if Chris knows anything about that… Of course, he loudly declares his innocence in the whole affair, but I’m not sure I’m convinced 😉

Anyway, the fact of that matter is that if we wanted nice, new furniture, we could buy it. We’ve even come close, but I’m the one who’s trigger-shy. Call it Dutch stoicism, my Calvinist upbringing, or whatever you will, but I feel horribly guilty at the thought of spending a lot of money on things. This is probably also due in large part to my parents and their spending habits. My parents were not and are not flashy about their money. Chris’ parents are, well, sort of the opposite. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they’re flashy about their wealth, but they do like to have nice things. Growing up in that environment worked on Chris, and I think his siblings, in an interesting way. Chris is very thrifty and isn’t impressed by material belongings. So put the two of us together, and you have one married couple that really likes to hold on to their purse strings. We’re not misers – just cautious.

Sorry for the all of the rambling – I promise that I have a point, and here it is: I really want to get some new furniture. I want to buy it now, and that is a problem. It makes no sense whatsoever to go out and buy a bunch of stuff just prior to our move to the Midwest, and I think that it makes even less sense to buy a lot of furniture just prior to moving to New Zealand. Although actually, we’ve considered buying new furniture here in the States and shipping it to New Zealand, since the university is paying for a shipping container. NZ is an island after all, and as you know, most things on an island are more expensive. I’m going to have to get in touch with some of my NZ blog buddies and find out their thoughts on this.

The other thing is this – Chris and I try really hard to just live on one income and save the rest. Living near Boston has made this a tiny bit difficult, but moving to Indiana should make this easy(er). We’ve budgeted our rent and utilities based on a percentage of Chris’ income, and we’re planning to save a certain dollar amount before we move overseas. Why do we do this? Well for starters, I want to be able to stay home for at least a year when we have our first child, and I don’t want to do that while being worried sick about money. No, I’m not pregnant and probably won’t be for a good 14-15 months from now (if all goes according to plan!), but we’re thinking ahead. I’d rather do without some of the nicer “extras” than be worrying all the time about money.

Chris has been really great about the whole new-furniture issue. He’s not being mean or making me feel guilty about wanting this. In other words, he’s not the problem, I am. I feel guilty about wanting new furniture and kind of silly for blogging about it, especially when you consider all of the other problems in people’s lives. We can afford to buy really nice things, but I can’t bring myself to do it! Augh! I blame my mother, ha ha (Mom – if you’re reading this, just kidding and I love you)!

We’ll probably buy new things either just before or just after our move to NZ, but I still feel discontent with my situation, and I don’t think that’s right. I have a lot, a LOT, of things to be happy about it, and it seems wrong to feel this way. Does anyone else out there feel similarly, or am I all by myself in this sort of thinking?
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12 thoughts on “I Need Help. Furniture Help.

  1. We have yet to buy new furniture. We are living off of our childhood furniture that we've redone to fit into our current lifestyle. We save a lot too and even thinking about big purchases kind of gives me hives..

  2. My husband and I also live off one salary. It may suck now, but after you do it for awhile it gets easier.

    Why don't you ask around and see if you can find any contacts in the furniture industry? A lot of the times they'll let you buy furniture wholesale from a warehouse, which is much cheaper!

  3. I say buy it and ship it. We shipped ALL our furniture to Germany and I am very happy we did. Things are just not as nice here and they are SO much more expensive. Don't wait until you get to New Zealand! However, I would just buy the basics like couches, chairs and tables ect because you might find some nice pieces while overseas, I would just start with the basics!

    Come enter my giveaway on my blog if ya want!! 🙂 It's free!!

  4. I do think you're right to wait until you get back to the Midwest to buy furniture. I think a few investments in new furniture would be okay. As I was getting married and combining households with my husband and trying to decide what new furniture we wanted, someone gave me the great advice to buy a piece or two, but make do with others. Throughout your life together you'll find pieces you LOVE and then you'll have a collection of furniture that represents your life. "We bought this kitchen table right after we got back to Indiana," or "Don't you LOVE this coffee table – we bought this in NZ," or "We splurged on this piece as our going away present from New England." Buy pieces you love. Might I recommend one of my favorite little kitchen tables: http://www.crateandbarrel.com/family.aspx?c=14227&f=26292

  5. I feel the same way, I hate everything in our house but I refuse to buy anything new until we move and buy our own home. I love your Practically Perfect Dog, mine thinks she's prefect for sure! 😉

  6. You are definitely not alone. I'm in the same boat. I'm not content with our living situation (we went from a nice house with a pool, lots of space, a huge kitchen, and decorated nicely) to another country and a rented townhouse half the size. We haven't decorated (not even painted!) because we're not staying here for all that long, so it feels like I've been living away from "home" for two years now. We're very fortunate and things could be a MILLION times worse, but sometimes I still have to whine and pout about it. Glad you feel the same.

  7. While my husband was going through medical school and residency, I learned the joys of shopping on Craigslist and at garage sales. Now that he is a radiologist (and a Lt Col as of last month- whee!) I still shop Craigslist etc. I recently purchased a down stuffed couch and am having it reupholstered. It was $7K new, but I paid $300. It will cost a bit to reupholster, but no more than a new couch at a furniture store. The best part about shopping this way is that you can change your style on a whim and not have a lot of guilt. It's very addictive. I have four dining tables- three are stored 🙁 !

    PS That leaves a lot of money left over to pay those student loans off. Oy.

  8. I have furniture issues too. I like to find vintage/modern pieces and fix them up if I can. Or the fabulous IKEA catalog (since I don't live close to a store). We have the same ugly gray filing cabinet and if I had any say in it I would paint it and put a fun vinyl decal on the side but it's the hubby's so I leave it alone. Good luck honey. I hope things start looking up for you. 🙂 XOXO

  9. We love love love furniture. It's a problem. We will find something we love, no matter how expensive, if we love it, we buy it. Like our couch. Which we waited 6 months for.

    You just gotta find a style you love and go for it. Seriously. Because it's where you live.


  10. I'm struggling with this right now. We decided it was finally time (after almost 6 years of marriage) to take the plunge and upgrade our decor to fit "our" style. Now that we're halfway in I'm freaking out with the outlay of cash. Deep down I know it's an investment but every now and again I have a mini-anxiety attack.

    I say you should do what you want to do and not let anyone make you feel guilty about it. You both work really hard and deserve to buy new furniture if that's what you want.

  11. Furniture is hard. We bought new living room furniture and moved 2 months later. Mr. Guru didn't pack it right in the moving truck and took out a chunk. Needless to say he almost died.

  12. We are the same. We will be living off one salary and saving every penny of the second. And buying huge purchases literally makes me sick. I hate it!!

    You aren't alone 🙂

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