Set a Budget
You wouldn't want to go shopping for a big-ticket item on impulse. Establish a good idea of what you need, and it doesn't hurt to establish a budget for it. Doing that frees you up to really look at your options instead of rushing from store to store, and maybe ending up buying some furniture just because the buying process has exhausted you.
If you treat the salesperson as your friend instead of an adversary that needs to be conquered, you may be able to get some really good deals on furniture. The salesperson is there to sell, you are there to buy. The only thing missing is mutual trust.
We are not talking about blind trust, but if you ask for help nicely and a salesperson reciprocates in kind try to build on that. You may be pleasantly surprised when you find what you were really looking for, at an even better price.
Look for Sales
You save substantial amounts of money when you buy furniture that’s on sale. But you have to determine first if it is really a sale or a sales gimmick. While you may see a lot of “Blow Out” or "Going Out for Business" sales all the time, they mostly don’t offer very good deals.
Look for special sales, such as closeout sales, clearance sales or floor sample sales when stores are clearing out their inventory. Some stores hold floor sample sales or year-end sales. The best months for shopping at these sales are July, and from the end of December to January. If you are looking for outdoor furniture August and September Labor Day sales are good.
You can count on getting good deals at outlets and clearance centers. Here you will find furniture that has been discontinued, damaged or returned. What you see is what you get, and sometimes you can see spectacular furniture at low prices. The secret to finding great deals at these warehouses and clearance centers is to go there often because you never know what you may find.
Learn to Negotiate
There are many retailers who are willing to negotiate on price. You will have to do some asking around and legwork, but the rewards are worth it.
It never hurts to ask politely. It also helps to know what you want. If you have been shopping around then you also know what the going price is for that piece of furniture. If you are buying used furniture then haggling is even expected by the seller.
Check the Internet
You have a good chance of finding pretty much anything on the Web. Search the name of the manufacturer and the model you are looking for. Chances are you can find helpful reviews and exchange notes with other people on forums. When buying online, always make sure that the dealer is legit, and check for warranties, shipping information and taxes before you commit.
There are clearance centers and bargain shopping sites such as Overstock.com or members only sites that offer flash sales for members, but again, familiarize yourself with the real value of an item before you get sucked into the excitement.
Visit thrift stores and consignment stores for some really good bargains. Other venues are auctions, estate sales, and garage sales. You can also buy used furniture at flea markets. You will have to use the same strategy as you would use for clearance centers—visit often and bring along your negotiating skills.
Used furniture is great for many reasons: it is green, you may find really great quality for pennies on the dollar, it is an opportunity to find one of a kind furniture, and if you are into DIY you have plenty of opportunities to flex your creative muscles. There is just one word of caution, though. Don't buy something that you won't be able to repair easily, or where repairs may cost more than the value of the piece itself.