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Monday, April 5, 2021

Buying New Chairs and The Importance of Sinking Funds

I haven't had a lot of success with appliances and furniture lately, to put it mildly, as I mentioned recently. Fridge, stove, and hot water all stopped working at once. And I didn't even write in my posts about my issues with my dishwasher and needing to call a repairman out because of a massive flood it was causing in my kitchen. When it rains, it certainly does pour.

But it didn't end there.

Three years ago we bought a table and chair set and we were quite excited about them. But they were cheap and not the best quality and the chairs have really been problematic lately. Like they were wobbly and not so great to sit on. The legs on some chairs bent a bit. And when I stood on one time I felt the seat break a bit.

But they worked.

And while the chairs weren't great and I wanted to replace them, I told myself that that was a want, not a need, and there were enough other expenses that I had that it wasn't right to just buy new chairs- that would be a sign of my being spoiled. I could wait with that, especially since I was having fridge and hot water issues and I was getting a new oven anyhow and paid a little more for a giant oven, which is a bit of a splurge.

It wasn't the right time for me to indulge my "petty" desire for nicer chairs.

And then my friends came over for dinner. And in the middle of dinner two of the chairs around the table literally split in half. Not screws loosening as had been happening for a while with these chairs. Nope, the metal snapped where it was soldered together. Definitely not fixable.

At this point, I took it as a sign from the universe that I should be replacing my chairs. It went from being a want to a definite need. If two collapsed within the space of 30 minutes (luckily no one got hurt) the rest would be heading there very soon, and I needed to replace them before someone actually got hurt from those chairs.

Only chairs are expensive. Last time we got cheaper chairs and 3 years later they're dead. The previous chairs I'd purchased were Ikea chairs and they were terrible from day one. I knew I wouldn't be getting Ikea chairs again. The other chairs we had purchased were folding chairs and the metal snapped and they collapsed while we were sitting on them. I'd never actually purchased high-quality chairs before, and I knew if I kept on buying bad-quality cheap chairs I'd have to continue to replace them every few years. 

When I am stuck on something like this, I tend to crowdsource answers. And so, I posted on various frugal local groups to try to find out the best way to get quality chairs without breaking the bank (at least not too much). Most people responded in a way that wasn't very encouraging- if you buy chairs that are even remotely cheap they'll break quickly because they aren't quality. I was frustrated- what was I supposed to do? Buy cheap chairs again and need to replace them in another 3 years? Or shell out a lot of money after I just bought an oven on better quality chairs?

Then one person suggested these folding chairs that a certain grocery store was selling. I immediately nixed the idea. I didn't like the idea of folding chairs, because they're collapsible, dont look nice, and break easily (not to mention that standard folding chairs are a trigger for me for reasons I can't share publicly). But she tried to convince me, telling me that they aren't standard folding chairs, and that I should consider them. She sent me a picture and they looked like chairs we had growing up- solid wood ones, that you wouldn't know they're folding chairs just from looking at them. She said she's had them for ten years so far and they're still good quality.

For me, that was a clincher. Oh, and I forgot to mention- they were only 55 dollars a chair. While that's not exactly dirt cheap, it was very cheap for good quality chairs. I needed to buy ten, so that would mean a total of $550 which while isn't ridiculously cheap is still very affordable for good quality chairs (and honestly, I think its about what we paid for our bad chairs 3 years ago). 

These chairs are imported from the US and are Costco brand, the Stakmore series in particular. It has really good reviews on it, in addition to my friends' experiences. I'm actually pretty sure we had these exact chairs in my home growing up. And as for the price- these are only 10 dollars more per chair, which is pretty good being that they were imported from the US.

Then there was the issue about how to get them home. Paying movers to do that wouldn't really be so possible, since I was buying them from the grocery store. But I wasn't sure what to do. Eventually I called up a taxi company and asked them if they would be willing to drive me home with ten folding chairs, and they sent me a car big enough (honestly a smaller one probably also would have worked, but they sent me a minivan sized taxi just in case).

We love these chairs. And while they're not exactly the color of the rest of my house, now that we moved the table to be next to the book cases, they do match the book case color and fit. And I'd rather chairs that aren't the exact color I want that actually are good quality than chairs that are the right color that break far too soon.

And as for the second part of this post, referenced in the title. Sinking funds.

We were hit with a lot of unexpected expenses this month. More than is "normal" and "reasonable" to expect. How did I pay for it? Well, one might think that I used my emergency fund for this. But I didn't. 

Emergency funds are for true emergencies. You don't want to touch that unless you have absolutely no choice.

Finance gurus recommend having what is called a sinking fund. Because while some things are true emergencies, other things are expenses that you know will happen eventually, even if you don't pay for them every month. Sinking funds are parts of your budget that you put money into so that when those expenses do come up "suddenly" you already have set aside the money to pay for that. So yes, we had a bunch of expenses recently, but while they were "emergencies" in the sense that I didn't expect them to happen this month or all at once, they were something I knew would happen eventually. So I had a sinking fund specifically meant for home/appliance repairs and replacements. 

There are many other categories that should ideally have sinking funds as well. If you have a car, car repairs and even replacement should definitely have a sinking fund because these things happen. 

If you have a computer then you should have a computer repair/replacement sinking fund.

If you have smartphones in your family, you should have a replacement sinking fund because phones break and often at the most unexpected time.

I need really expensive shoes, unfortunately, so I have a sinking fund for my shoes so that way when my shoes wear out or rip I can buy new ones.

Since most people don't buy clothes every month, having a clothes sinking fund will allow you to be able to buy a whole new wardrobe when your teenager on a growth spurt tells you "Mommy, none of my clothes fit me anymore!" 

If Christmas or other holidays cost you a lot of money, set aside money for that every month so that you have money for the holidays when they come around.

The list goes on and on. Everyone's sinking funds can and should be for different things, but the concept remains the same. If you know there is a likelihood of having an expense come up in the future, don't wait for that to happen and scramble to find the funds to pay for it, either going to your emergency fund (not ideal) or taking out loans to cover it (the least good option). Instead put money aside for each of those categories every month so that when these expenses do come up you have the means to pay for them and you can save your emergency fund for true emergencies.

Fortunately because of my sinking funds I was able to buy the oven and the chairs and pay for my dishwasher and hot water repairs without needing to go into my emergency fund. Of course now my sinking fund is completely depleted and for the next few months I need to fill it so that way if another thing breaks (please universe, don't conspire against me and have another thing need replacements or repairs before I fill it!!!) I'll be able to cover that as well. 

What kind of chairs do you have at home? Did you spend a lot on them or did you go for cheaper? How did you find the balance between frugality and quality/longevity? 
Do you have sinking funds? What are your sinking fund categories?


7 comments:

  1. Are there thrift stores for Facebook Marketplace, or a free group in your area? I just got my son 4, very nice, solid wood chairs for $25 from a thrift store.They will last years. I have those farmhouse back chairs, and I got 4 at one thrift store, found 2 more months later, and painted them all the same color. I have had them for years, I'm sure I paid less than $10 a chair, but I am weirdly always on the lookout for 4+ matching chairs for cheap. A friend of mine just opened a free store in my town, so its baiscally like a free Goodwill. They have everything and its all free so it helps people who need it. I donated some bunkbeds and have also gotten a king size bed frame for free, so its been great for my family too.

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  2. We needed a new table and chairs for our dining room. Our neighbor told me of a woman that sold good used furniture out of her barn. We found a really nice country table with 4 chairs that looked just like new. They were only $300 and they delivered it ! That was sixteen years ago and they still look great. My sideboard even matches it. God was watching over us.

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  3. We got our chairs from Target.com 15 years ago. They had to be assembled but have served us well for the past 15 years. They were about $100 for a set of 2. But I’m not sure if they still sell them or not.

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  4. Good advice as I just depleted my emergency funds on expensive car repairs. I'd never thought of having a sinking fund! I'm glad you were wise enough to know to have that and thankful that you shared your knowledge.

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  5. Whered you get the chairs?? They look great!

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  6. I actually love the look of those chairs. I would never know they are folding chairs! And that might be helpful for when you don't need them all out at once.

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  7. We got married in 1986 and purchased a set of nice wood chairs with fabric seats. We still have them and use them today, 30 years later! They are in excellent condition. They were very expensive but well worth it.

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