how I saved for “the sofa”

It all started with a contest.  I was asked by Pottery Barn to be a part of a design challenge against some of my peer bloggers.  We received $100 Visa card to participate and the winner received a $500 gift card to Pottery Barn.  It seemed like fun, so I decided to participate.  In the back of my mind I was thinking – if I win this thing, that gift card is going towards a new sofa.

Well, thanks to your votes, I won!

So, the $100 Visa card and $500 gift card started my sofa fund.  I also sold my pine dining room table, so that gave me another $600.  $1200 was a great start, but the sofa cost $3200 total (including taxes, shipping and a surcharge.)  I still had a long way to go and I agreed that I wouldn’t pull from our regular household income to pay for this sofa.  I needed to get creative.

My first thought, of course, was - what can I sell?  I had a ridiculous stash of rugs in the basement, so that was a good place to start.  It’s really silly to keep a practically brand new Dash & Albert rug in a flood-prone basement to fold laundry on.  So, I have sold four rugs for a total of $935 (I’m still waiting for two of them to be picked up, but they have been spoken for.)

missmustardseed-73 (427x640)

That brings the total to $2135.  My envelope was filling and that new sofa was in reach!

So, I took a stroll around the house to see what else I could sell.  What else was I not using or didn’t love that could be sold and turned into a sofa?  Out of nowhere, a thought came to me.  I have a “points” credit card for my business and I have never cashed out any of those points!  That’s something I’m not using that could be turned into a sofa!  I had enough points to get $555 in cash, so I cashed out those points and added the cash to the growing sofa fund.  The total was now $269o.  I was pretty excited at this point, because the cost of the sofa on the website is $2699, but with shipping, surcharges and taxes, the total leaps all the way to $3200, which was a major bummer.  I still needed more.

We have a personal credit card that we earn points on as well, so I called my husband to see how much money we could get for our points.  He looked into it and called me back.  We could cash out $600 with our points.  There’s the sofa!  The $600 brings the final total to $3290.

So, aside from the gift cards, I was able to buy the sofa with things I already had that I didn’t want or wasn’t using.

Now, I know because of the nature of my business, I have more things hanging around that I can sell, but, as I mentioned in THIS POST, I have been doing this sort of thing for years.

Before I go, I want to address one thing.  I know that me buying a $3200 sofa, even with gifts cards and rug money and credit card points, is going to rub some people the wrong way.  This blog is about creating a beautiful home on a realistic budget, right?  Yes, it is.  You have to keep in mind that probably 95% of the furniture in my home was free, from a yard sale, thrift store, antique store or flea market.  In the past few years, I’ve only bought two brand new, really nice pieces of furniture – my Restoration Hardware bed and this sofa.  I prefer old things, anyway, but in both cases, I wanted something very specific.  Trust me.  I’ve been scouring Craig’s List and eBay and thrift stores for what I was looking for over a few years, but I never found it.  So, in these two cases, I splurged and got exactly what I wanted.

The fact that my dining room chandelier was $4.00 and the buffet and corner cabinets were free…the fact that my channel back chair was found on the side of the road, the wing chairs were free yard sale leftovers and the ottoman was free with Joss & Main credits…the fact that the French chairs were $10/each at a yard sale and I do all of my own upholstery, sewing, painting and refinishing…all of those things balance out two big splurges on pieces of furniture that we’ll (hopefully) enjoy for decades.

I think it’s tough for us “thrifty girls” to give ourselves permission to go into a real store and buy something that doesn’t need to be glued, screwed, fumigated, patched, painted, repaired and refurbished.  It was tough for me to step outside of that world and it will definitely be the rare exception, but I know when that sofa is delivered and we’re enjoying it in the space, I’ll be glad I made that splurge.

PS – How many people are looking up the points earned on their rewards card now?

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  1. Terrie C. says:

    I call what you did to get the sofa you wanted, resourceful. I think because you save, thrift shop, bargain shop, repurpose, etc. it allows for an occasional “I want that one”. Cna’t wait to see it.

  2. Paola Norman says:

    Hi Marian Iam happy that you got the sofa that makes you happy. You are a smart resourceful woman and you inspire me everyday. Looking forward to seeing the photos of your new piece.

  3. Sherrie says:

    Good for you… Ten years ago we pinched and saved for a year for “the leather sofa”. I have never regretted that decision. In fact I still rub it softly whenever I sit on it because it was a personal victory… (But I also LOVE my full-wall bookshelf I built from four trashed bookshelves and the $10 winged-back chair I found in a classified ad.) Enjoy your purchase!

  4. Sandy says:

    Can’t wait to see your new sofa! I read the post today and saw that you saved additional money because Pottery Barn will be giving you a refund on shipping. Woo hoo! Wow, you sure used some resourceful techniques to garner the money for your sofa. I say hooray for you! No explanation needed for when you choose to splurge and buy a piece of furniture. It’s your home, your life and your blog. I love to see a mix of things, new, old, repurposed, thrifted. It makes it real and it makes it interesting.

  5. Monica says:

    Those of us who are committed to recycling, upcycling, reusing, repurposing, etc… sometimes need a reminder that we do it because we like to, and see the value in it, not because we took a vow of poverty. You saved for that sofa as you said, without dipping into the household budget. Your children didn’t go hungry for you to get it. By purchasing a new sofa, you contributed to the wages of the people who constructed it (from the lumber salesman to the fabric designer to the upholstery staple factory worker), the accountant and receptionist and shipper at the furniture company, the truck driver; even the taxes are paying someone’s wage somewhere to fix a road or stock a library. These people are our friends, relatives, neighbours (yes, I’m Canadian)- we help them make a living too when we purchase these things. You are so conscientious, Marian! I hope that no-one would begrudge you a new sofa. If they do, it speaks to their meanness, and not about the choices you make.
    Congratulations, and enjoy your new sofa! ((hugs))

  6. I have been thinking a lot about letting go of things I like to surround myself with things I love. I think this is a perfect example. You are exchanging things and opportunities you’ve liked, used, or saved for something you really love. And it’s just good decorating to anchor your thrifted finds with some higher ticket items. It makes everything in the room look more pedigreed. I am so impressed with how resourceful you’ve been to make this happen. I would never have thought of cashing out points like that. Brilliant! I am excited to see how it all comes together. Thanks for sharing this. I can feel my brain starting yo crank away about what to keep, what to loose, etc.
    The Other Marian

  7. Heather H. says:

    good for you! You should never have to apologize for a purchase you earned and deserved!

  8. Cyndy Cook says:

    The fact that you even had to justify this purchase makes me sad. When did we get all get so judgey?!? I’m glad that you are getting to have something you want and that will make you happy! Girl, you deserve it!:;:

    • Rayna says:

      I thought the very same thing. How incredibly sad that she needs to justify and explain in detail how she purchased that beautiful sofa. She works incredibly hard and everyone deserves to spend money on things that bring them happiness.

  9. Cecelia Krajcar says:

    Marian, I so admire your style….You are a wonderful inspiration…I only want to say wonderful things to you, but my heart calls to say the truth. I have No PrObLeM with you buying something expensive for your home. My problem is with Pottery Barn furniture. I have friends who work for Pottery Barn and get the discounts which lure purchases. Many pieces of furniture have been purchased with many tears shed over bugs appearing out of the wood and so forth and so on. I only hope your leather couch serves you as well as your inexpensive one from Ikea…I can’t help but think you would be better off buying a vintage couch and having it covered in leather. I know this will not be a popular comment but it is one from exerience with Pottery Barn Furniture. I hope this does not cause a lot of distress. It is truly menat to be helpful. Ce Ce

  10. Jacqueline Davies says:

    I too, have been looking for a sofa. But cannot find anything that I like . I hope you will share a picture of yours and I certainly think you can get what you want however you wish to fund it. But how you funded this sofa purchase was so clever. Thank you so much for sharing.

  11. Denise Owenby says:

    Congrats on your New Couch! You are an inspiration on how to save and not go into debt for something you wanted.
    Thank you for all of your great ideas and helping me look at items in my home in a new way.

    God Bless You and Your Family and Have a Very Merry Christmas <3

  12. whitney says:

    Good for you, you deserve that sofa, after all the other budget-friendly decisions you make on a daily basis, you’re still actually saving money! I also have mostly (ok, ALL) budget furniture (free/thrift/garage sale/discount, redone, etc), and I finally allowed myself to buy a $2000 leather section a few years ago…it was a terrible quality piece of furniture and wore out in only 4 years (w/only myself and my husband sitting on it – no kids/pets, argh). I’m sure you did your homework and know the sofa you’re buying is great quality, though, so I know your experience will be better than mine. And the next sofa I bought…was heavily discounted due to missing a cushion (damaged during shipment probably). I love the sofa, but have yet to buy true replacement foam & recover the existing one and new one to match – currently using floor cushions stuffed in it and the whole seat covered in pretty ruffled sheets, very shabby chic and perfectly comfy – ha ha.

  13. Thanks for sharing the story of purchasing your sofa. I can so relate. I have always tried to furnish my home with super bargains, but I do believe that when it comes to those things that we sit or sleep on, sometimes new is better. Love your blog…so inspiring!

  14. No need to apologize for hard work! You have inspired so many of us to do the same.

    • Kimberly says:

      Never apologize for being successful, or for getting what you want, in life. You have earned it!

  15. You are not rubbing ME the wrong way – I think what you did was absolutely fantastic and ingenious! I save up our AMEX points (we use the card for everything!) and buy great things with them. I got a gorgeous buffet from Pottery Barn and have gotten round trip place tickets to Greece, England and France with these points! You should be so proud of how you got to buy that Pottery Barn sofa. You will have it for years – their stuff is good. If you were to get sick of it, you could slipcover it or recover it. It’s a boon to your family budget that you are so smart about finding things for free or relatively inexpensive and paint them and make them beautiful. Hooray for you for getting the Renovation Hardware bed and the Pottery Barn sofa! And the sofa, you might say, was almost for free. Kudos! That’s exactly how I would have done it!

  16. kimberly kelly says:

    Marian, enjoy your new couch, and don’t worry one bit about it. We love and are inspired by all that you do. Just, please keep doing it! :) You would probably be amazed if you could look into the homes across this country at how much you influence your readers. Now our husbands, they may or not share our enthusiasm… lol Thank You.

  17. You work very hard and deserve every success that comes your way!! If you like that sofa, and you’re able to buy it, then I say go for it and enjoy it! AND…you should be congratulated on your resourcefulness. I admire the way that you saved to buy it. You knew exactly what you wanted, you set a goal, then you worked hard to reach that goal. You should be proud of yourself! Enjoy that sofa.

    It is beautiful by the way, I just saw your post that it arrived and it’s lovely. Fits your space and style just perfectly!

    Blessings to you and your family,

  18. Tammy says:

    Oh my goodness! Don’t worry about what other people think about how you spend your well-saved money! Creative minds know how to stretch every dollar, but you are entitled to splurge whenever you want or can afford to! No explanation needed. Just enjoy your pretty, perfect new couch!

  19. Joan M. Raines says:

    I love your new couch. It fits beautifully with all your other furnishings and like everyone else is saying you have earned this and were most creative in how you got the money to purchase, Since when do we have to justify our purchases to the general public who glean many ideas from you free every time you post. I do remember some mean spirited comments about your freebies from sponsers in the past so you probably think you have to explain or justify your big ticket purchases. Stop it ! We love you.

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