Whatever you do, don’t buy nice new stuff. People spill beer and liqour on nice new stuff. People fall and break nice new stuff. People, who aren’t very nice, often steal nice new stuff. Plus, nice new stuff is expensive… especially if you consider someone, probably you, will spill beer on it, break it, or have it be stolen from you. The only exception to this rule are bed sheets, always get yourself some nice bedsheets (and definitely make sure you’re the one ripping the shrinkwrap off them) 🙂
I’m half kidding (about not getting nice new stuff) about all the bad things that can happen to nice new stuff but the half that’s not kidding is trying to convince you that the premium you pay for nice new stuff isn’t really worth it while you’re in college. Wait until you have a job, don’t have to move as often, and can truly learn to appreciate it before you buy nice stuff – that’s Tenet #2…
Tenet #2: Wait until after graduation to buy nice new stuff.
Reason #1: It’s cheaper. Bottom line, if you need a couch you should consider scouring Craigslist or your school’s bboard before you go to someplace like Ikea (and they’re still on the cheaper end of the spectrum). As school semesters end, people will be looking to move and that’s when you can swoop in and snag a couch for much less than what a store will charge you.
Reason #2: You’ll move, probably several times. I (and like nine other people) helped one of our friends move from one apartment to another one day (it was one of those 3 moves in one day so that we could share the truck fees) and he had some ridiculously nice solid wood furniture. I could not tell you how nervous each one of us was when we were moving his furniture because it was so nice and each bump could potentially cause an ugly gash in the soft wood. Now, imagine you had to move that nice stuff each year from place to place… think of how beat up your furniture would get and how angry you’d get every time someone dropped it (even though they were helping you move).
Reason #2a: Nice furniture is heavy. My friend’s nice couch, in the story above, was so heavy it required about 8 people to move it. Plus we had to stand it up to get it through the stairwell and then unscrew the feet in order to fit it through the door. Forget dinging it a little (which we did a couple times), nice furniture can be expensive. You don’t really want that grief when you’re moving from one dingy apartment to another.
Reason #3: You really don’t want to be a prick and obsess over your nice things. Something nice can go to something not so nice really quickly. Something that isn’t nice almost never gets worse. Imagine you invite some friends over for some pizza and beer and the next thing you know you’ve become that guy sliding coasters underneath your friend’s beers and asking them to be careful with the pizza drippings. C’mon… seriously, you don’t want to police your friends and you don’t want to have to obsess over a really nice couch. Just get an old Ikea couch from that senior moving out across the street for $50 (what will he care, he has a job now and you’re basically paying him so he doesn’t have to take the couch with him) and enjoy life.
Reason #4: Nice things go missing. I’m not saying someone will steal your iPod but people have been mugged because bad people recognize that those telltale white earbuds are usually attached to three hundred dollar objects the side of a fat credit card. And if you’re the type to lose your keys from time to time, you run the risk of losing your expensive possessions.
Please don’t read this to mean that you shouldn’t get nice things ever, just consider holding it off for four years until you get that degree and land that job, after that you can start treating yourself without having to turn to plastic.
Moral of the story? Don’t buy nice new things. It’s a waste.
This article is part of a new series I’ve started called Personal Finance for College Students  (hence, PF College).