Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sleep In the New Year: Mattress Shopping

***Warning: this is a long post, so take notes. But, I wanted to write it because it sums up almost all of the information I searched for HOURS online to find - and basically couldn't find it. So, here is your very own "Mattress Buying for Dummies Smarties." ***

When is the last time you bought a new mattress? Five years ago? 10 years ago? Do you take pride in still sleeping on your childhood beddie-boo?

In all actuality, you should be changing your mattress about every 10 years...and buying new pillows every 18 months. I bet you don't do that, do you? No, we don't either. But, we are going to start.

One thing about growing older, you start to realize that you can't just sleep anywhere anymore. The body just doesn't respond as well. Plus, aggravated sleep doesn't equal an energetic, productive day. That's my excuse anyway.

We both decided it was time for a new bed. Sounds simple, right? WRONG. It's not. It has been one massive, gigantor headache, pain in the...well, you get the picture. Buying a new (quality) mattress is much more overwhelming and frustrating than I would have ever thought. So, I'm going to walk you through the process that we went through, in hopes of trying to save you a little of the said pain in the derriere.

Above everything else that will be discussed, there are three qualifiers that you truly need:
  • What size bed do you prefer?
  • What is your price range?
  • Most important: What type of bed is MOST comfortable to YOU? Everyone's preference is different, which is why this buying process is so difficult! Your friend may almost have you convinced to buy the bed they bought but you soon find out that it feels horrible. So basically, no one, not even a pushy, pushy salesperson should be able to talk you into buying a bed that doesn't feel right.
Next, be sure to shop around. We went to four different stores and spent endless hours researching on the internet. Please don't think that you are going to go to the stores, write down names of mattresses and then search the internet for better pricing. It doesn't work that way with mattresses. Let me let you in on a little secret, the names of mattresses from each store will be different - they all may be Serta mattresses, but we NEVER found the SAME named product at each store or on the internet. Let me explain - you may find a pillowtop Sealy "Midnight Express" set at one store and the same set at another store, but it may be called "Endless Sleep." This is done purposely - different tags for different stores. Try this: google "Superior Slumber Vera Wang Serta" and let me know what comes up. Can't find it, can you? If you really want to compare, ask the sales person for a spec sheet (and good luck with this - we only had one store that ACTUALLY had one.) This info will give you the constructive materials, core thickness, pillow tops, etc. THOSE are what you compare other mattresses to. (especially if you are looking to price match)

Let's talk about brand names. We all are pretty much familiar with Serta, Sealy, Simmons and others, right? There are more out there. For instance, some furniture stores will have their "house" brands on the floor as well. Granted, they may be great products and may have been around for 100 years. But, when it comes to warranty, what happens if this furniture company goes out of business 10 years into your 20 year warranty? It could, and has happened. Again, it is a matter of personal preference but we decided we would rather put our trust in a well known brand.

Speaking of warranty, pay attention to the details. We found mattress sets with 10, 20 and 30 year warranties. They are all different so be sure to ask. Here are the differences we found:
  • 10 year - just what it sounds like - limited 10 year warranty according to their specifications. Mainly against defects or body imprint of more than 1 1/2"-2" before time runs out
  • 20 year - these were split into two categories: 20 year un-prorated and 10 year un-prorated/10 year prorated. Un-prorated means full warranty for the full 20 years. Prorated means the warranty will start to lessen in value the last 10 years.
  • 30 year - same categories as 20 year except can be in 15 year increments or 10/20 year increments.
Also to know about warranties, some mattresses will not hold their warranty if you put a new mattress on top of old box springs - so buy the whole set. Also, some places will not honor the warranty if you do not have a mattress pad/cover over the mattress. Therefore, if something is spilled on the bed and there is no cover, they will not replace the mattress. Be sure to ask these details because most places will not come out and tell you up front.

Got all that so far? Overwhelming, I know. But, the more you shop and research, the more everything will come to light.

We've now scratched the surface.

Quality and price. Everyone has a different price range, I understand this. But please remember, if you buy a $500 mattress, it will feel like a $500 mattress. Quality and price DO go hand in hand. Do not succumb to sticker shock. The price on the tag, even if it is a sale price, is never their bottom dollar. These places WANT to sell you a mattress and will almost always price match or be willing to compromise - especially if you are paying with cash. Hint: if at all possible, do NOT finance furniture. It's not worth going into debt for an item that is not a monetary investment. Did you know that it costs the company 9% to give you a finance, which means YOUR price is going to be higher to cover that! When we mentioned paying right out, they immediately knocked another $100 off of our sale price. Also, do you need more than one and want to pay cash? Since my parents are shopping for a new mattress set as well, they were willing to knock ANOTHER $100 off of EACH set if both were ordered at the same time - because shipping is less expensive in bulk. Remember these little things - it all adds up! (not to mention they ALSO gave us the mattress cover for 50% off)

Store Perks DO matter. To be honest, the customer service at all four of the stores we visited was pretty good. Some pushier than others; some more informative than others; some more honest than others. Overall, we were rather pleased. Don't let the salesperson determine what is the best product for YOU. That may sound foolish but we found we were more apt to want to buy from the people we "clicked" with. Then, we realized that in the end all that matters is that WE are happy with the product - comfort and price. Four other points were made notice at each store: delivery/set up, haul away old set, comfort trial period & redelivery (if your mattress is not to your liking and needs replaced.)
  • Store #1: free delivery to our area, free haul away, 45 day trial, unsure on redelivery
  • Store #2: $60 delivery w/$50 mail in rebate, free haul away, NO trial, unsure on redelivery
  • Store #3: Free delivery, free haul away, 30 day trial, $20/$30 redelivery charge
  • Store #4: Free delivery & set up, free haul away, 7 day trial (but owner said it's not written in stone - they want you happy with your product), unsure on redelivery
All of the stores would be able to deliver within the week. Some would've only been a few days, but because of the holiday, one week was average.

Make it a point to ask these questions. You may get a really good deal on a set, but if you add delivery and haul away fees, you may end up spending way more than you would've liked.

So many types of beds! Yes, there are. I wanted what was "best." Of course, I couldn't find it - because YOUR best may not be MY best. Just be prepared to find a vast array of choices. Try out each one. Kick your shoes off and lay on them. Not just for a few seconds but 5 to 10 minutes at least. Instead of directly trying to find the best, start by eliminating the worst. You will then start to realize what materials you prefer and what "top" you like.
  • Constructive Materials: Memory foam, latex, Swedish foam (aka Brick), inner coil, mix of latex/individually wrapped inner coil and probably many other different types of coil
  • Density: Firm or Plush? Some beds are called "dual" where they can be specifically made with firm on one side and plush on the other.
  • Topper: pillow top, super pillow top, comfort layer, eurotop - ask about the difference and feel each one.
Be sure to mention to the salesperson if you have any health issues that you may be addressing. We both have back problems, so finding the right bed with the correct pressure points was a main concern. Many knowledgeable salespeople will guide you one way or the other according to your particular problem (many doctors suggest 100% latex beds for people with back/neck problems - just fyi.)

Overall, I'll tell you what we chose. We went with a 100% Latex foam mattress called the Superior Slumber Super Pillow Top - Vera Wang by Serta with a 30 year UN-PRORATED warranty. With the sale and discounts, we saved $1250.00 - free delivery, set up and haul away. From what we understand, 100% latex mattresses are THE most durable, great return value (which makes it easier to turn over), less heat generating than memory foam, gives you 46% more circulation in your body (because of pressure points) and wears down one-third as fast as coil mattresses. So, if all goes as planned, we shouldn't have to replace this mattress until we are 66 years old. Oh my gosh. Weird.

One more thing, we ended up buying more local. By shopping in your own area, you are directly helping your immediate community - with support and sales tax dollars. So, here's a shout out to Kalvin and Deb over at Bailey's Furniture in Plymouth. Very helpful and honest people - check them out if you are ever in the need for home furnishings.

Do you have any other helpful hints? If so, please share. I'm sure I have left something out.

Shop well and you'll soon be on your way to sleeping in a new year!
Good luck!

Vist Frugal Friday at Life as Mom for other ways of money management.

Also visit Coupon Teacher for Thrifty Thursday!

1 comment:

Coupon Teacher said...

I like this post. I wish I had read it before I bought my mattress several years ago. It has two permanent indentations from hubby and I.

I would love to have you link this up at Thrifty Thursday!