When a $300 Purchase Turns into $3500

This weekend I searched for a new dining set for my front porch. I ran the numbers, compared prices and consulted my budgeting software. I had a specific price in mind before I reached the store and walked in confident that I wouldn’t break the bank. If I bought a table and chairs similar to the set I currently own I would’ve walked out with a $300 charge to my credit card. Of course, I didn’t want the same old dining set we’d had for years. I wanted something comfortable and different.

Before heading out to the store I compared online prices and immediately increased the budget from $300 to $1500. I wasn’t sure I’d find exactly what I was looking for, but I knew a higher price point would certainly help. With a list of prices and comparable tables in hand I drove to a store just up the street. Once inside I found a dining set that almost fit the bill. It was the right size and seated the right number, but it wasn’t particularly comfortable.

I searched the store for other options, but most of the dining sets were more than twice my budgeted amount. My husband wasn’t particularly keen on the $1200 increase so I really didn’t want to stretch the budget any farther.

In the end I picked the $1500 table, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with it. $1500 is a lot of money and I really wanted to be thrilled by my purchase. I came home and scoured the Internet for cheaper prices. Sure enough I found the same store offering a lower price online, so I went back to the shop the very next morning to ask if they’d at least match the price.

This time my husband came along for the ride. When I showed him the table he sat down, wiggled around and agreed that it wasn’t particularly comfortable. A few minutes later, after looking over different table arrangements and trying a number of chairs, we agreed to purchase a larger dining set. The cost of the new set: $3500. That’s right the budget expanded from $1500 to $3500 in less than five minutes.

So why the increase? First, the new table is larger, sturdier and better constructed. It’s made of quality materials that will last for decades. Second, it’s much, much, much more comfortable. In fact, it’s so comfortable that I could barely get my husband out of one of the seats. Third, we intend to keep this table for a very long time. In fact, if we’re lucky it will last our lifetime. It’s constructed of recycled plastic and comes with long term warranties.

Lastly, I’ve been dreaming about a new dining set for years. I can only imagine all of the scrabble games, spring lunches and summer meals we’ll experience out on the porch together. I don’t spend money very often and I can’t remember the last time I spent $3500, but when I picture all of the enjoyment my family and I will get out of this new dining set I know we’ve made the right decision.

Did we have to purchase the $3500 dining set? Of course not. Did our old table and chairs provide us with many happy memories? Of course it did. But having said all of that I still think the new table is worth the price.

The truth is that it’s often hard for a frugal girl like me to spend money. I have so many goals for fixing this or improving that, but when it comes time to hand over the cash or credit card I usually find ways to delay the purchase. In this case it took my husband’s guiding hand to reassure me that we made the right decision.

He reminded me that we save to our retirement funds, set aside money in the bank and donate large sums to charity. The goal is not always just to put the money away for a rainy day, sometimes it’s meant to buy things our family will enjoy. We spend a lot of time at our vacation home and this new dining set will certainly be shared with amazing friends and family.

6 thoughts on “When a $300 Purchase Turns into $3500”

  1. Seriously? I can't imagine a plastic dining set being worth $3500. And I can't imagine a "frugal" person making that purchase.

  2. I am now finding at my age that anything I buy will have to last me the rest of my life, as I have very few working years left. Having said that I know I would never be able to afford a Dining Suite at that price, but you have obviously put yourselves in a financial position where you are. So I say enjoy it you,ve earned the right to build more happy memories.

  3. Let me clarify a bit. Our house is located near the ocean, so we need heavy deck furniture that can withstand strong winds. A typical dining set simply won't cut it. It will be blown around the deck and broken in the first season. We also need furniture that can withstand salt water and chlorine. The harsh weather tends to rust anything metal so we needed to search for furniture that would limit such damage. Once it's rusted it's nearly impossible to take apart for repair. Lastly we rent our home so the furniture needs to stand up to the abuses of renters. Given all of these factors it's difficult to find comfortable furniture that doesn't cost a lot of money. Most owners focus on uncomfortable wood based furniture or the more expensive, much more comfortable sets made from recycled plastic. This time around we decided on plastic furniture, made from 90% recycled plastic, that should last a lifetime.

  4. I have a hard time making large purchases as well (except when it comes to travel, it seems) even when I know I have the money to spend.

    $3500 is a lot for a dining set, but it if it is going to last you for a really long time, it is probably worth the money.

  5. At the end of it all, its comfort and happiness is what matters for the family. I wouldn't min spending $3500 on a dining set if it suites our needs and keeping in mind we don't spend often, just like you.

  6. You got to be kidding me, a $3500 dining set. Not frugal at all and I don't care what excuse you come up with to justify it. Lost a reader, bye


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