Household Goods
- smart ways to furnish your home

Acquiring household goods and furnishing your new home is a necessary step in your migration to America.

As an immigrant or migrant, you probably got only some essential durables shipped from your home country. Makes sense too. America being the consumer society that it is, the cost of buying something brand new will likely be similar or less to the cost of international packing and moving. Plus you'll have the joy of shopping and setting up your home all over again!

This section provides you hints and tips on navigating some of the issues you'll face, as you shop for a variety of household goods from groceries to electronics to furniture.

Comparison Shopping
When buying electronics (like televisions, audio-visual devices) or other high value consumer durables (like refrigerators), I would highly recommend comparison shopping. Comparison shopping is of 2 kinds:

  • comparing the features and benefits of 2 or more brands to decide which brand to go for
  • comparing the price of the chosen brand at 2 or more stores to decide which store to buy from
Click here for excellent resources on how to comparison shop.

Good Furniture Stores
Furniture (as with most household goods) is a matter of individual choice and style. When I first moved to America, I had a real problem finding good furniture stores. I had a strong personal preference for contemporary (European) furniture. But most of the department stores I visited carried the traditional, American style of furniture. Eventually, I was able to compile a list of 'good' furniture stores, that carried a variety of styles at reasonable prices. What worked for me may not work for you. But do click here for a listing of stores that I, and fellow readers of this guide recommend.

Online shopping
Shopping on the internet is secure, convenient and fast gaining popularity in the US, as in other parts of the world. Internet shopping was earlier common for smaller, standardized items like books and CDs. But today, virtually anything can, and is being bought on the web. Every major store has an online storefront. The inventory (hence choice) is usually greater, and a variety of payment options are accepted. I highly recommend online shopping for a large array of hosuehold goods.

Click here for recommendations on the best sites and options for online shopping.

'Sales' and Shopping Deals
Bargaining is not a common shopping concept in the US (one important exception: shopping for a car). The sticker price is usually non-negotiable, especially at department stores or with nationwide brands.

But what the retail industry lacks in unorganized negotiation, it makes up through organized 'sales' and 'deals'. Promotional sales are official, limited-time price discounts on a previously higher-priced item to clear inventory.

Promotional sales are a great way to shop, and land a good price or better terms on any item. Almost all department stores and brands declare a sale one or more times a year. More importantly, there are websites that keep track of shopping deals at different physical as well as online stores. Click here for resources on how to find a good shopping bargain on your household goods.

Discount Coupons
Discount coupons differ from deals or promotional sales in that the discount is not available to all, but only to the holder of a numbered coupon. Discount coupons can be obtained in a variety of ways and once again, present a good way of acquiring an item at a discount. However, discount coupons have their own set of disadvantages. Click here for more details and recommendations on how to obtain and use discount coupons

Mail-in rebates
Look out for items with mail-in rebates, especially technology goods. Rebates are a discount given post-facto i.e. you purchase the eligible item at the listed price, but mail in the receipt and other proof of purchase to a designated address and receive a discount back by check. Mail-in rebates are yet another promotional tool used by stores, and should be exploited to the fullest. Click here for more information on the hows and whys of mail-in rebates.

"No payments, no interest"
Many stores will advertise a purchase option called 'no payments, no interest', usually for 3, 6 or 12 months. To avail this option, you usually have to apply for that store's credit card first. Assuming you have read the section on credit history on this website, and are comfortable applying for a card, you should definitely consider this option. It allows you to defer payments, interest-free, upto the stipulated time period. Of course, there are some pitfalls to watch out for. Click here for tips on such payment options.

Price Clubs
Price clubs, also known as warehouse clubs, are special stores that offer everyday items and household goods - both durables and non-durables - in bulk quantities at prices lower than most other stores. The reason these stores can offer deeper discounts is due to volumes - they procure in bulk and sell to you in larger quantities and bigger packages. Most price clubs also charge an annual membership fees. Click here for further information on price clubs.

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