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Buying vs. Renting Furniture

FurnitureI needed furniture for the first time in a college apartment. Thanks to hand-me-downs and gifts, I didn’t have to hunt down much at all. Then I graduated, got married, and we moved into a house a couple of years later. We had to get our own furniture for the first time ever. We had to decide whether we wanted to buy or rent the pieces we needed and ultimately decided to buy. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are stuck on the fence on whether to buy or rent furniture for your place.

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 Personal Finance 
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Furnishing Your New Place

Fancy Schmancy FurnitureWhen I moved from Pittsburgh to my new apartment near Baltimore, I had almost no furniture. I had a desk from IKEA that we still use today but very little else. When I made it to Baltimore, I didn’t buy any new furniture because my roommate already had a whole bunch of stuff like couches, dining table and chairs, etc. I moved two more times after that, once to be closer to work and then again into our first, and current, home; and felt lucky that I “accidentally” learned the key to furnishing your apartment: keep things inexpensive and light.

Inexpensive because you will want to save as much money as you can for other things, be it trips to the bar to socialize with new friends or an emergency fund. Light because you will probably move again and you don’t want to burden yourself with a lot of “stuff” so early on.

If you’re moving into a house that you bought, consider buying furniture that lasts because you won’t need to move. Otherwise, keep it light and cheap. You’ll thank me when you move in a year.

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 Reviews 
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SumoLounge’s SumoSac Sultan Review

A while back, Andrew over at SumoLounge sent me one of their Omni Bean Bag chairs. This year, Andrew sent one of their SumoSac Sultan bean bag chairs for me to try out and I have to say it’s pretty nice!

Here’s what it looks like (model comes separately):
SumoLounge SumoSac Sultan Red

My first impressions of the Sultan was that this thing is huge. It’s listed dimensions are 54 x 54 x 42 but as you’d imagine with a bean bag, it pretty much gets as wide as physics will allow it (within the constraints of the outer covering). The sac comes in only two pieces, the other covering and a vacuum sealed inner “pillow” filled with furniture grade shredded urethane foam.

One word of advice, the shredded foam stuffing is vacuum sealed when it’s delivered. I recommend that you move the package to the room you’ll be using it in before you put it together. The SumoSac, as the name Sumo implies, is huge. And heavy. I was able to move the SumoSac up two flights of stairs and through three sets of doors but it wasn’t easy, you’ll want to unseal the vacuum sealed “pillow” of shredded furniture grade urethane foam after it’s where you will be using it.

One of my favorite features of the Sultan is that they did a great job on the cover. A lot of bean bags like to go with the slipper polyester outer covering that slips and slides all over the place. SumoLounge did a great job going with a micro suede. Another great feature is that the bag holds its shape very well. Some bean bag chairs just go wherever it wants, this one holds its shape and conforms to you without spilling all over the place.

Lastly, the Sultan is remarkably comfortable. Since it holds its shape, you can form a little pocket for yourself and still have something to rest your neck and head on. A lot of bean bag chairs, at least the ones I remember, don’t make it easy for you to do that.

Oh, before I forget, it did get one other ringing endorsement from my wife. She spent a couple hours sitting on it this week, reading one of her novels, and her verdict? “It’s comfy!”


 Personal Finance 
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Best Site To Sell Your Stuff

Recently I’ve been doing some cleaning around the house and thinking about how to unload some of the stuff we’ve acquired over the years. I have a ton of junk that’s just taking up space in closets, on bookshelves, in basement rooms, etc. Fortunately, with the power of the Internets, it’s actually quite easy to sell the stuff you don’t need. Here are my favorites:

Textbooks

Everyone knows the school store is the worst place to sell a textbook but there are easier and better alternatives. First, I’d check the bulletin boards of your school, both online and offline. By selling it through the bulletin boards you save on shipping and selling fees. My online favorites are Amazon.com and half.com because you can list in minutes once you setup a Marketplace account. Then, you can enter the ISBN number (the numbers underneath the bar code), product quality, sale price and Amazon will set up the rest for you. For the convenience you do pay a price, Amazon.com takes a 15% commission on the sale price, so try offline first.

“Commodity” Goods

I’ve always said that eBay is the prime place for anything that can be considered a commodity. A commodity is a DVD, watches, a car part, or any number of items in which one of them is is essentially interchangeable with another. What you get with one particular I Am Legend DVD is going to essentially be the same as any other, minus different scratches and the like. For items like that, eBay is king. eBay is king because they have useful tools to help in the listing process of commodity goods and because you get access to a huge buying community. Commodity goods also ship well, which means that geography isn’t a liability as it is with furniture.

Clothes

Used clothes are always difficult to sell but if it’s a particularly unique piece then you can always try local consignment shops. If it’s a suit, consider snapping a few photos, getting the dimensions, and listing it on eBay. In college my friend used to buy suits from Goodwills in affluent neighborhoods and sell them on eBay for a tidy profit, so it’s certainly possible. In general though you’ll probably get a better return donating them and taking the tax deduction.

Furniture & Other Large Items

Craigslist baby. Furniture (and other large items) is often big, difficult to ship and transport, so you’ll want to keep the buyer in the same geographic area. eBay isn’t a good option since shipping will make something too expensive. You can often find a major city Craigslist site near you but expect a lot of false positives. I recently gave away a dishwasher and had many false positives (and it was for free!). If you do have a weaker piece of furniture or a larger item that you don’t think you can sell and you don’t think Goodwill/Salvation Army will accept as a donation, giving it away on Craigslist is a good alternative to the dump or recycling facility. (large items can include basically anything heavy like tools, appliances, etc.)

There you go, four major clutter categories and the places you can unload the loot you’ve acquired all those years.


 Reviews 
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Review: SumoLounge Omni Bean Bag Chairs

When Flexo was giving away a SumoLounge Omni, I kind of wanted to win it but I knew I probably wasn’t going to win it so I asked Andrew at SumoLounge if they’d send me one and the obliged. No, the review I am about to write was not a part of any agreement, nor is the giveaway that will soon be announced, but I thought it would be fun to give away something hip and trendy, as opposed to personal finance books. So, what does a bean bag chair have to do with personal finance? Absolutely nothing. If you’re okay with that, onto what I think about the SumoLounge Omni.

Before receiving it, I half assumed that it would be similar to one of the bean bags chairs from my childhood. Back then, they were basically amorphous bags of polyester and nylon filled with little beans. When the Omni arrived, it was hardly amorphous and it really surprised me. The Omni is made from a sturdy (I hesitate to call it tough, but it’s not a slipper smooth polyester either) nylon that holds its shape (with the help of the beans). I actually found a perfect spot for it, in front of my television as I own 6 year olds at Halo 3 (I’d probably be playing Call of Duty 4 if it wasn’t for my XBox going blind), where I used to slide in an office chair. When my fiancée first saw the bean bag, she told me that it’s was probably an absolute certainty that I’d be gone to her for a long long time (she wasn’t complaining, just noting!).

If you’re looking for the hip urban look, I think these chairs look really cool in bunches in the corner. I think the color choices are really vibrant and at a scant $129 a pop (it sounds expensive at first but these things are huge) with no shipping, it’s not a bad idea to furnish with. It will also make you seem much cooler than you probably are. :) I was going to take some pictures of the chair and me in it but I had some friends come over and I snapped pictures of them instead, here’s one:

SumoLounge at Playboy Golf Scramble Party

Okay I lied, they have more photos though…

(Photo courtesy of SumoLounge)


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