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Yellowdog's avatar

My fiancee and I disagree on the best way to spend a gift card. Who do you think is right?

Asked by Yellowdog (11163points) January 23rd, 2017

I am self-employed and do not make a lot of money at this stage of my life, but more than she does. She is on disability (SSI)—but to save her from homelessness, she and I went in together on a very nice apartment (inexpensive but very nice, like a retreat) of which she is the primary occupant. I will not be there living much until we are married and I hopefully will see better income by then.

Along with the lease came a $500 gift card, which I’ve of course let her be the exclusive holder thereof. But then I learned about how she intends to spend it.

There is a nice furniture store where we can furnish the apartment very well, with a 72-month, NO INTEREST finance plan. We can get a lot of nice furniture, enough for the entire apartment, for less than $26 a month. This would free the $500 gift card to spend on lesser furnishing expenses, such as lamps, mirrors, end tables, artwork, candles, sconces, as well as dishes and kitchen appliances. This is how I, at least, think it should be done.

She, on the other hand, thinks the $500 gift card should be spent directly on one of the sets of furniture (Sofa, Love Seat and chair) to “knock out the major expenses” —the big furniture items which I think should be spent on the long-term finance plan. If you invest your $500 in a living room set, methinks, you still have years to pay your remaining furniture expenses in the finance plan, and have no money from your gift card left for lamps, mirrors, clocks, coffee mugs, kitchen appliances, and a rainy day.

Who do you think is right in this dispute? If you think I am right, help show me how to explain to her, who thinks differently. If you think she is, please help me, who sees things so differently, to understand her position and logic,

Once that gift card is sunk into the long-term finance furniture it is gone forever and there will be little money for anything else as neither of us makes much. If we are going to be paying for furniture at a low cost long-term anyway, why deprive ourselves of the smaller things?

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24 Answers

johnpowell's avatar

This is a handy article.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-5-stupidest-habits-you-develop-growing-up-poor/ (See #4)

And you both are wrong.

Garage sales, craiglist, thrift shops until you can swing buying nicer stuff.

I can understand buying new kitchen stuff since food touches it. But that kitchen table and couch… Someone is giving that away for free right now on craigslist. Upgrade when money is less of a issue.

This is not great but the couch, entertainment center, and kitchen table were free. They are actually pretty nice considering they were so free the people delivered them for free.

http://imgur.com/a/zxj8P

I furnished my living room from craigslist for free. I did spend about 300 on buying all new kitchen stuff.

artwork, candles, sconces…... Just no.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

72 months is six years. That’s a long time. If the furniture is cheap (and a lot of new, mass-produced stuff is), it will probably not be in great condition in six years. I agree with @johnpowell, check out secondhand stores, craigslist, garage sales, car boot sales, ebay and the like. You can pick up older, but really sturdy and well-made furniture for a song. So don’t put everything you need on tick. It might take you a bit longer to furnish your place, but your place will be unique if you think about what you really like and start being creative and looking for pieces of furniture you really love.

I don’t know what else you need, but you could use the $500.00 on other things you need for your kitchen and to set up your home.

MrGrimm888's avatar

If you already gave her control over the card,it’d be poor etiquette to force her hand as to it’s use. IMO.

If you love her/value her opinion, let her do whatever with it.

Or you could split it 250/250…

Couples often fight over financial issues. Hopefully this won’t be a pattern for the two of you.

Either way, good luck.

Peace n love.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with her. Buy beds if you don’t have them and then the second thing is a sofa. Buy other stuff when you have the money to buy it not finance it. Put aside the $26 a month, more if you can, and in 6 months buy the next thing you need. You can earn a few dollars in interest while the money is in the bank.

Stop paying on time/credit if you can. This is trap.

If you do buy the furniture how you want, what is the interest if you don’t pay it all in 72 months? Also, are the items worth $1872? That’s what you’re paying. 72 x $26 is $1872. You have to think about the whole number, not the monthly number if you can. Meaning if it’s possible to wait until you can afford it in full that’s better. Or, be able to pay it off within a year. Committing to 72 months seems like a bad idea to me. It sets you up to be entangled for a long time, and if you don’t complete the commitment you screw up your credit.

Another thing to keep in mind is if you guys split who will own what? I recommend you buy one thing, she buy another, so it will be obvious who owns what. Keep the receipts and records of who bought what. Once your married this isn’t a real issue when you purchase items.

I would look at second hand for living and dining room or even Target or Walmart too. Only buy what you can afford. I gave away a bedroom set last year. It was a little banged up, but the receiver got it for free. You can try freecycle.com or Craigslist. Just be careful for your safety when meeting up with people.

For a mattress to sleep on I’d want something new if possible. Even if it’s just a piece of cut thick foam. My sister used to sleep on the floor on a piece of foam she could roll up. Also, the air mattresses are good and they are relatively cheap. You can get them in Walmart, Target, and big camping stores.

JLeslie's avatar

Don’t live in debt. Keep your bills to a minimum. Where were you living before? What sofas were you sitting on before?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Wife and I just moved into a new place and furnished it by going to garage sales. $500 goes a long way there. Use the card for groceries and cash flow furnature through second hand methods. We don’t do debt. I urge you not to either.

Seek's avatar

I agree with @johnpowell.

Rent to own furniture stores are predatory. $26 over six years is $1,872. Almost two grand… For what? Something to sit on? Let someone else pay that. Buy secondhand: I’ve furnished my whole house from rich people who change their front parlors every year to keep “on trend.”

Basically new furniture for next to nothing, or actual nothing in many cases.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I should add,most of my furniture was procured from the side of the road…

If you can borrow a steam cleaner ,you can really feel better about the item.

JLeslie's avatar

Sorry for one more post, but another thing to know is if you miss a payment then what is the penalty? You must read the fine print.

Like I said, financing items is a trap. Try to steer clear of going into debt.

Pretty much everyone here is saying that.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Especially zero interest financing. BEWARE fine print on that is a bitch like it is zero but if you miss a payment there is 30% interest and is due all at once, or if you don’t pay it off by a certain date 30% interest on the full purchase price is due at once. Odds are you will still be paying even after the furnature is gone.
Yard sales are the shit, especially middle-class suburban ones. We probably furnished the whole house with next to new high end furnature for just a few hundred dollars.

JLeslie's avatar

Another idea. Let relatives know you need furniture if they live near you. Many of my friends started with furniture from relatives. My first two apartments had the main living areas furnished by relatives of my roommates. Sofas and tables they weren’t using anymore, but were still in good condition. Our tv and dishes were also from relatives.

Pachy's avatar

As one who, as a young man, got suckered into many a long-loan commitment that sounded good, I heartily recommend your not going the 6-year route. You have no idea in the present how much total monthly income you may need in the future.

I can’t tell you how to best use the gift card, but based on my own hard experience I can assure you that it’s best to avoid debt and keep your monthly “nut” as low as possible.

Pachy's avatar

I just want to reiterate that $26 a month today may not seem like much, but remember, that’s $26 a month (a couple of meals a day or a medical co-pay) every month, month after month, year after year you’ll be obligated to pay that—and I can assure you there will come a time when you might have to skip a payment or more because a more drastic need demands it, and then you’ll surely be hit by a penalty. PLEASE keep your monthly discretionary outlay as low as possible. It took me way too long to figure that out.

If it were me, I’d “bank” the gift card for a while (be sure to check if/when it expires) and for now make only very, very inexpensive purchases that you can pay for with cash. And of course, as other have advised, look for free stuff (I, myself, right now am trying to give away a bed on Craigslist).

jca's avatar

I agree with the others that Craigslist is the way to go. I’ve not furnished my place this way but I know people who have. A friend has a beautiful house and she got a great couch for $100 from Craigslist. Many things on there are free. FREE! It’s easier for them to list it on Craigslist than to deal with having to have someone pick it up for a tax deduction.

I definitely would not buy furniture from some store like what you are referring to. The majority of those stores sell crap. I REALLY would not buy art work and sconces from those places. So overpriced.

I also recommend if you are on FB, there are all sorts of tag sale sites. Type in “_____ (name of your local town or county) tag sale” and you should find a bunch of FB pages in your area. Things like candle sticks you won’t be buying, you’ll be getting them from tag sales, Good will, Craigslist or people will give them to you. Stuff hanging on your walls will be meaningful stuff, not just something you paid a lot for just to fill up wall space.

For the $500, you need (if you don’t have it already) dishes, pots, small appliances. If you don’t have that stuff, you can also get it from tag sale sites. You can use some of the gift card for stuff like pot holders and other kitchen stuff. Not that you are going to buy $500 worth of pot holders…..

I hope this is not a source of contention for you and your girlfriend. It’s a tough way to go to be fighting over five hundred dollars.

Patty_Melt's avatar

@johnpowell and I have butted heads in some areas, but on this one I AM IN TOTAL AGREEMENT WITH HIM. Great deals abound. Don’t sink yourself into a longterm agreement for furniture. You will have all sorts of expenses come along your way. Don’t look for ways to create one.
Look at how soon you have a conflict of opinion with your gf over money already. If you get tied into a contract for furniture, who is stuck with paying it off if you should split?
Keeps costs low, and contracts to a minimum. Get a good financial rhythm going before jumping into a debt obligation.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Listen to @johnpowell and the warnings from @JLeslie ,@ARE_you_kidding_me and others above. The “No Interest” claim is a trap! You’d be spending over $1800 IF you don’t miss a payment for 6 years. Read the fine print. Miss just one and they start charging you ~30% for the remainder of the loan. Or they slap on a “service” charge, Or they change it to a balloon note. DON’T DO IT!

Suck it up for a year or two and get your stuff from GoodWill, Freecycle, CraigsList, or friends!
Use as much of the $500 as possible to pay down any credit card debt you have now.

By the way, make sure to investigate if her SSI will be affected by your marriage.

JLeslie's avatar

Let us know what you decide.

Yellowdog's avatar

Thanks to all who have responded thus far to my question. Fluther can be a friendly and helpful place sometimes.

I think that my GF has too expensive tastes for our budget. But even I agree that a nice Sofa and Loveseat is essential for the front room. This apartment only has a bedroom and living room, bath and kitchen. The stuff I’ve seen at thrift stores—well—I know you can happen upon something nice—but the stuff I’ve seen the past 3 weeks at thrift stores and yard sales looks like it came from the curb. It would make the apartment look dirty and sleazy. But my family has donated MANY really nice things to thrift stores, so I know that nice or acceptable things DO show up. So I am open minded,

She already has a nice bed, bought and paid for—but she gave up a really valuable solid oak antique king-sized bed because it was “not her style” which we bought for only $250 (it is worth thousands but there it now sits in someone’s house who is unlikely to give it back). She has bought, in its stead, a nice looking but cheaply made bed that was more her “style” for about $400. The antique one gave her the creeps because someone died in it or something.

t was always my intention to buy mirrors and art from thrift stores and low-priced Dollar Stores. In our area, there is Big Lots, Freds Dollar Store and several bargain places that sell liquidated, fire-damaged, and high-quality used rented furniture at more affordable prices, Walmart and Sams have some nice looking stuff too that is not TOO bad in price.

I want to thank ALL of you for warnings about the long-term financing. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but I learned something. I didn’t know about what might happen if you miss a payment. Maybe if we do it, we should make sure the monthly note is extremely low, like 6 to 10 dollars a month for the sofa and love seat.

My family (relatives) DOES (do) have some alright used furniture they are willing to part with. but my gf is too petulant to accept it. Maybe if I can get her accept it “temporarily” then she will see that it’s good enough, if not MORE than good enough.

Thanks again to all. This has been my most helpful FLUTHER question ever—keep the responses and discussion coming! Thanks again

JLeslie's avatar

Sacrifice now for a much better situation later.

Accept help from family, save like crazy, and buy nicer things in 6 months to a year.

Do you have a wedding date? Maybe plan for some updating after the wedding. That could be a nice goal. Do a registry that is moderate so people buy you the new things you want.

It’s very exciting setting up your new place together. Get on the same page about money, both spending and saving, and you both won’t feel so deprived that you need to wait a little for new things and your perfect nest.

Don’t spend money just because you have it. Save save save so when your ready the money is there for you.

One other very important warning. Some gift card visa type cards lose money. Today they are worth $500, next month $480, next month even less. Check the fine print! If you can’t cash it out and put it in your bank account, use it on everything you buy to get rid of it. Get cash back at the grocery store as long as there is no fee for cash back. Take the cash back money and deposit it in the bank. In one month just in groceries and cash back, plus other expenses here and there like gas for your car you should be able to empty the card.

Regarding your note being low monthly. NO! Making a mistake will still cost you dearly. Just one missed payment by accident and you’re screwed. If the furniture is still the same price you’ll be paying for 150 months. No no.

Pachy's avatar

Can’t stress enough you and your GF need to get on the same page on finances. Not doing so when living together is a recipe for disaster. Again, from hard personal experience I shard this advice.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Yellowdog Thanks for taking the messages to heart. Move in to the new place and take your time furnishing it. Do it after you are married. Get free (or low cost) stuff now. and make sure to tell your GF it is temporary.

jca's avatar

Look at Craigslist. Like I said above, I know people who have gotten great stuff, free or extremely cheap.

I forgot to mention IKEA. IKEA has great stuff, decently made, nice looking, well priced. All kinds of stuff from furniture to art to kitchenware.

It sounds like your girlfriend has what’s called “champagne taste on a beer budget.”

Another thing you can do is get some wooden furniture from where ever and paint it or refinish it. You can make something look like new or in a paint color that you like.

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