Since buying my first home I have had the chance to make a number of large purchases. As much as I tried to avoid going all out in the first month, buying stuff for the new home was reality, as I was moving from a two-bedroom apartment to a three-bedroom house. Naturally, not everything in the apartment was mine; some was my sisters', and a large portion was on loan from my parents. I was lucky enough to inherit a fair bit of furniture from the apartment, but there were some major gaps that needed to be filled.
When I first moved into my house I needed a number of things:
-Full sized bed
-Kitchen table and chairs
-Washer and dryer
I acquired these in a number of different ways, some saved me money, some less so. Fortunately I managed to learn every step of the way.
Granted, I already owned a bed. Actually, I owned two. They are a detached set of twin bunk beds, and I have been sleeping on one or the other for the last 20 years. (Same mattress too.) I could have kept on sleeping on one of the twins, but to be entirely honest, I really wanted to move to a full sized bed.
I shopped for the bed at a used furniture store, and I was on a bit of a tight budget. I wanted to keep my spending under $300. I ended up with an antique double bed frame that was plain and a bit worn, but that I loved. It cost me about $280 after taxes. I probably should have taken it as an omen when I got it home, tried to assemble it and the slats that held the mattress were too long. (I could have cut them but I didn't want the second-hand store to not have the slats that they needed for the bigger bed, so I sent them back. Ironically, the owner decided to trim them anyways and sent them back. Unfortunately they didn't manage to trim them to the appropriate size, so I had to trim them again once I got home.)
Because the bed was an antique I had to order a posture board instead of a box spring. Fortunately this didn't cost me any more. Unfortunately I had been so preoccupied about getting the right depth and width of mattress for my lovely antique bed frame that I never considered the length. Turns out my bed frame is too short for what is now a standard double mattress.
I didn't want to part with my bed frame (and I doubt that the second-hand store would have taken it back.) So I had to come up with another solution. I bought a metal bed frame that can have my head board and foot board attached. This cost me another $100. So at the end of the day I was $80 over budget, but I did have a bed to sleep on.
-Second-hand stores aren't always a cheaper solution. The bed frames sold at Ikea can range anywhere from $60 to $800.
-Measure, write, and measure. Measure every dimension of what you are getting, write it down and bring it with you and then measure all of the parts in the store before you go home. I don't care if they think you are silly measuring things in the middle of the store. It is a lot better to know ahead of time than to find out later.
-Shop and compare. I did do a bit of looking but not nearly enough. The Internet makes it much easier these days to get an idea of the cost of an item. It pays to get a good idea what is out there.
At the end of the day I don't regret my purchase. I do love my antique bed frame and am planning on keeping it for a very long time. I hope you can learn something from my experience and avoid the less than pleasant surprises that came up for me.