With the level of national unemployment falling to 8.3% in January according the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis reporting a disposable income rising by 0.1% in comparison with December's figures, today's home-owners could be forgiven for looking forward to a prosperous 2012. With greater and more sustainable levels of income benefiting households throughout the United States, consumer spending is expected to soar in line with a growing consumer confidence. When it comes to investing money in household furnishings and appliances however, couples must be wary of overspending or triggering a cycle of unmanageable debt that could cloud their financial future.
Identifying Your Needs
The level of disposable income in the U.S. actually soared by $14.1 billion in January, which continues the trend that was established during the final quarter of last year. However, the economic recovery remains tentative at this stage, and so homeowners would be wise not to invest all of their additional disposable income into purchasing goods for the household. Instead, homeowners should identify exactly which items are necessary within a functional home, and purchase these as a priority while retaining any additional capital in savings.

For example, while TVs and computers serve specific purposes, they are often luxury purchases that are not integral to the running of a house. In contrast, appliances such as washing machines, stoves and electric heaters perform crucial functions around the home, and allow a household to run more effectively and efficiently. This will determine which appliances and goods you should purchase immediately and those that you should look to procure at a later date.

Seek out Value
With a list of important and purposeful items to purchase, the next step is to ensure that you get outstanding value for your investment. To achieve this, it is important that you take a long-term view when considering which appliances to buy, as value is defined by many factors aside from a standard retail price. If you can source goods that are both durable, energy efficient and cost effective to maintain over a significant period of time, then you will minimize your financial outlay significantly.

So, consider each appliance and item on its individual merit, and pay specific attention to the demands that you will place on it. For example, appliances in the kitchen are used on a daily basis and can easily develop faults, which means that items such as stoves and washing machines should always be bought with substance in mind rather than style. Even if you manage to find the item that you want in a sale, be sure that it is suitable for long-term use and also well protected by the manufacturer's warranty.

Negotiate on Pricing
As consumers, we have a tendency to accept the price of a product that we are confronted with. While it is an accepted practice to negotiate for high ticket items such as cars and houses, the truth remains that any product sold by retailers can be bought at a discounted price. The key is to be bold and pose the question in the first place, and have the courage to interact directly with individuals on the shop floor. While it may not always work, you should at least be able to secure vouchers or a promotional offer to reduce your cost.

When negotiating on household appliances and goods, it is important to remember two key points. The first is that retailers will have a bottom line cost price that they will not sell beneath, and as a consumer your task is to make an offer that suits both parties. Secondary to this is the need to be persistent, and understand that your first point of contact at a store may not be able to authorize any discounted sale. So, consider asking to speak directly to a manager or senior salesperson, as they are more likely to understand the pricing structure employed by the retailer and agree to negotiate a final fee.

The Bottom Line
The economic recovery in the U.S. is undoubtedly gaining momentum, but consumers and home owners must still approach their household spending with caution. There remains a pressing need for them to source the best deal possible, while also looking to maximize their financial savings over a significant period of time.

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