couched in awesomeness

I’m a late (or non-) bloomer when it comes to a lot of financial things: I’ve never purchased a car or a house, I don’t have a credit card, and I’ve never taken out a loan for anything. The good thing about this is that I don’t owe money to any individual or financial institution. I have no house payment or car payment or credit card payment, which is pretty nice. The bad thing about this is that I don’t have much in the way of good credit, so in the event that I do need to buy a house or car, it’s going to be difficult. And sometimes it’s hard to hear my friends talk about looking for houses or buying new cars and not be able to relate.

For the most part, though, I’m comfortable with my lo-fi lifestyle, with its 30-year-old bed*, its 12-year-old car, its hand-me-down furniture and electronics. The lo-fi life has freed up a lot of my money, and since I’m prone to unnecessary and debilitating worry, it’s freed up a lot of my brain power, too. It took me quite awhile to let go of the notion that owning things is what makes one an adult**, but once I did, I decided that I’m okay not being a homeowner or new car driver right now.

Or at least I was comfortable with my lo-fi lifestyle. Recently I started to become uncomfortable, particularly in my lower back, particularly while sitting or laying on the futon in my living room. I tried to make the futon more comfortable using carefully-placed throw pillows and folded blankets, but it didn’t really work. Then I thought maybe I could sew up some good pillows to help support my lower back while I sat in my living room and read a book or wrote or watched my Buffy DVDs. Neither of the two pillows I made did the job, though. I thought I was going to be stuck with my back-killing futon forever until I realized, hey! I get a steady paycheck now! I can afford to buy a couch!

Yesterday I made my most expensive furniture purchase ever, by a very large margin.*** I went to Room Service Vintage intending to buy a sofa, and walked out with an olive-green velvet couch, a blue vinyl rocking chair, and a set of two matching end tables. It’s all from the seventies, because I like things that were made in the seventies. I was made in the seventies!

my insane new vintage sofa

I realize that the color of the sofa is a bit lurid, in the burns-your-eyes-out sense. But when it comes to decorating my apartment, I’m a little like the overweight kid in school who makes fun of his own weight before anyone else can. If I make my apartment look as ridiculous as possible on purpose, I don’t have to feel bad about the fact that nothing really goes with anything else, and everything looks weird. “I like how nothing matches!” I can tell my friends. “It’s all got sentimental value!” To that end, my next step will be to hang this on my wall.

* This always requires some explanation. My parents bought it to use as a guest bed, then my sister slept on it for a few years when she was really little, then it was a guest bed again for a long time, then it became mine when I moved into my first apartment. It was in fantastic condition when I got it, and it’s still super comfortable, so I see no reason to replace it for now. It was made in the seventies!

** I believe one could argue that while ownership isn’t what makes one an adult, the financial responsibility necessary to effect said ownership is part of what makes one an adult. But, uh, I don’t really want to talk about that.

*** Which isn’t actually saying much, since my most expensive furniture purchase before yesterday was about seventy-five dollars.

18 thoughts on “couched in awesomeness

  1. As I understand it, it’s not that you “don’t have much in the way of good credit,” it’s that you have NO credit whatsoever. If you’ve never had a credit card or a loan, then you have no credit history, and it becomes nigh-impossible to get a credit card because you need some kind of established credit history for the system to determine whether to give you a card. It probably would be a good idea for you to talk to a financial advisor at your bank about how to get a credit card given your lack of a credit history. Being debt-free and being able to live without a credit card are certainly responsible adult behaviors, and getting a credit card won’t make you any more adult, as you clearly understand; but lacking the resources of an established (good) credit history and a credit card can at times be a serious hinderance, and it’s better to resolve that now than to find yourself blocked because you need a credit history to reference and you have none.

    As for your back aches, it does sound like it was more of an issue with your futon being worn out, but if your bed’s mattress is also 30 years old and you’ve been using it regularly for, what, 10 years now, then it might also need replacing even if it still seems super-comfortable. Do you periodically rotate and flip the mattress, like say 2 or 3 times a year? That helps it wear evenly and last longer.

    The sofa color looks nice and bold, not lurid, in that photo. I guess it depends on the context of the rest of your apartment. I’ve been really wanting to replace the cover of my IKEA sofa, but they’ve only been offering these really crap looking covers for the past couple years; they now have a really bright lemon-yellow cover that I considered, but I think it’ll be burns-your-eyes-out lurid and clashing in a bad way.

  2. Actually, I think that’s about the most amazing couch I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Maude seems to like it, too, and that’s important.

  3. Apparently the good thing to do is to get a department store credit card (they give those away in cereal boxes, I hear), use it, and then pay it off on time every month.

    The back aches were exclusively related to my futon. My back only hurt if I spent a lot of time sitting or laying on it. I have no such problems with my bed. Others who have come to visit me and sleep in my bed (eep!) have had no complaints about it, either.

  4. the couch looks great and I can’t wait to see your place (in person or via photos) with the new additions.

    incidentally, I wrote almost half of my master’s thesis while sitting on my futon. when I started having back problems, I was told to knock it the hell off and sit at a desk. when I begrudgingly did so, the back problems went away. oh, and at the time I was sleeping on a 20 year old mattress (also previously a guest bed).

    anyway all that to say that the posture you assume while using a computer (including lap tops) directly affects many body parts, not just the wrists.

  5. That couch is awesome! When I first got married, we lived in a 70’s cabin in the mountains. Since it was bought new, and no one ever used it, it never needed things replaced. We had green shag carpet, olive green appliances, and real (not retro) 70’s furniture, a tv, and lamps. It was great.

    I say go as long as possible without credit. Credit is evil, evil I tell you! And I have great credit.

  6. Yeah, I thought of the department store card, I just wasn’t sure whether those are actually easier to get without any history.

    And the trick is that you don’t pay it off in full each month, you carry some balance forward, but you do make sure to make payments on time. That’s how your history of managing credit gets established. I believe that using a debit card to charge purchases doesn’t give you a credit history for that very reason, because the charges are automatically paid in full each month.

    I’m probably going to have to get a new futon mattress, actually. I bought a proper bed when I got my condo precisely because it was clear the futon was no longer good for sleeping on, but I think the futon is now reaching the point of not being good even for sitting.

  7. Look, I’m a regular poster now!

    Just wanted to say that the no credit thing isn’t as big a prob as people tell you it will be. I’ve never had a loan or a credit card or anything like that either- lived on a cash-only basis my whole life with very cheap things (I have the futon, 10 year old car and torn clothes to show it). I bought a house anyway. The trick is to save enough money for a decent down payment and purchase a very cheap house. I did it after the lending crisis even. It took A LOT longer to get approved than people with credit, but I have a pretty low interest rate and a mortgage just like everyone else. Even still, I have no credit card and no credit history. You can do it! It makes you feel kind of like you beat the man!

  8. Thanks for the tip, Cindy. Unfortunately they aren’t listing the sofa I have (IKEA/PS sofabed), but I’ve sent a message to inquire about it. Worth a try!

  9. …and now that I’ve checked IKEA online, they’re showing at least one color (red) that I didn’t see when I visited the local store recently. Red would be a contrast, maybe even a nice contrast. I may have to take a trip to the store again and see whether their stock has changed, and if it hasn’t, perhaps order a new one online.

  10. I have a credit card that I used exactly once, paid off in full the first time, and just left in an unused pocket of my wallet thereafter. my credit is great. I think it’s not as complicated as some people make it out to be, as long as you’ve never screwed it up.

  11. I LOVE that couch. It is a gorgeous color…it just makes my hands itch wanting to stroke it.

    And as for the credit stuff, hey, think about how much better off you are than the 95% of Americans who are in debt up to their eyeballs. *shrug* I think it’s all in your perspective. You’re happy, right? Then rock on!

  12. No credit is not a bad thing. If you have a steady paying job and pay your rent on time then you are good to go. I purchased a Ford Ranger with no credit and got a 0.9% interest rate. You can even get a mortgage without credit, I know that does mortgage lending without having a credit history, they just look at your current situation.

    You made it this far being debt free and you should pat yourself on the back. About 2 months ago I finally paid off the balances on my credit cards that I got in freshman year of college (1998). You will have to go into debt to buy a decent home but cars, furniture, computers, cameras and what not call all be purchases with saved up money.

    Just another note on debt. I have a job as a petroleum engineer and I HATE it, I got into it for the money but it makes me sick thinking about all the chemicals we pump into the ground to increase the amount of oil and gas being produced not to mention the damage that is done above ground. We spill all types of chemicals above ground not to mention oil and diesel and once we leave cattle come in a eat the grass this shit has been spilled on. Anyways, I hate my job but due to the huge debt I have I am stuck because not many other jobs pay what I am making.

  13. That is an awesome couch and most importantly, it looks really really comftorable. It might not match anything else in your pad, but it matches Maude.

  14. Alison,

    You can shop at my store anytime. No credit required, just arm warmers.


  15. i hear ya on the furniture. all of my furniture was given to me, except for an old bookshelf i bought off my friend for $7. it all happens to be wood of similar shades and styles, which is funny since it all came from different sources. i even had a friend give me a $1100 leather eurway couch, and while i had it it was definitely the nicest thing i owned. about a year ago i got really hard up for some cash, as i’d just moved into a new apartment and bought a car. i was struggling so i sold it for exactly $5 more than i sold the old car for.


    i can also relate in the “nothing matches” department. a friend of mine is an amazing artist and he painted a rubber duckie on a painting of a british flag. yes. he painted the flag first, then put the duck on top of that, just to finish it off.

Comments are closed.