Why Rent to Own is a Trap

personal finance, Uncategorized / Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

In my entire adult life, college included, I have never paid more than $50 for a sofa. Seriously, that’s what Craigslist is for. That and friends that are moving and need to sell all their posessions right out of their storage unit. I am absolutely willing to pay $50 for that blue sofa (for some reason I keep buying blue sofas over and over again). My friend needed the cash and I needed a new place to sit my bum.

I bought my first couch when I was 22, freshly graduated from college, and was moving into my first place that I had to furnish since I was no longer just renting a room. My boyfriend (now husband) and I were moving in together, along with a few other friends, and my boyfriend’s recliner and television console were all the furnishings we had for the living room. My parent’s gave me their old dining room table and chairs, antiques actually, that they had kept for just such an occasion since they knew one of their daughters would want it when they got their own place. That left us with a gaping hole in the living room that only a couch would fill.

I knew exactly what to do to get a couch. No, I didn’t drive down to Ikea or Marlo. I went online and checked out Craigslist. Being in DC, there was always a multitude of people moving in and out of the city and there was always loads of furniture to be gotten at a good price. A few emails and calls later, I had secured a haggled deal for a blue pull out couch, living room rug, and side table all for $50. My friend offered to drive me to pick them up with his pickup truck and an hour later we had it all moved into the house. Done and done. I knew I couldn’t afford fancy furniture and Craigslist is what was expected from someone my age and in my financial situation.

Over the years I have acquired a few loveseats and sofas from friends that were looking to give them away or needed a few bucks for them and I was glad to make the deal. Yes, nothing matched. But that’s what slipcovers are for.

Fast forward a few years and now I am thirty, married, have two dogs, and want matching furniture. Why is it that just because I am older I think that I am entitled to something fancy like matching furniture? Keeping up with the Jones just causes envy. I have friends now that have bought their own houses (want), have nice, new, and matching furniture (want), cars less than 8 years old (want), and babies (want). I feel that these are my peers, my equals. Shouldn’t we be able to have the same things? No. That’s the trap. Just because I want something doesn’t mean I am entitled to it. Sure, my peers have that thing, but it doesn’t mean that I can afford it. Hell, it doesn’t even mean that they can afford it even though they own it.

Being an adult means thinking through the choices I make and making responsible decisions. It does not mean that I am entitled to anything. That’s childish. But this concept of getting what you want no matter what you can or can’t afford, is just how rent to own companies make their (many) dollars.

So you want that matching furniture set or even just a new couch that someone else hasn’t sat/slept/drooled/gotten dog hair on. Say you also want a new washer dryer set because yours is grimy/old/yellow/or just broke. Maybe football season is in mid-swing and your television just broke and you are having friends over to watch the game this weekend. Nevermind that you have bad credit and no money saved. If you want it, someone is willing to sell it to you for a (big) price. It’s ok. You’re entited to it. You’re an adult. Go ahead and throw your money out the window. You’ll end up paying much more for that couch than it’s worth and still not own it. Have fun with that matching loveseat and couch. I’m sure it’s worth it. Me? I’ll just be here on my old blue couch, trying to live like an actual adult and within my means.

Check out this article from the Washington Post for more on this. Take heed people. Warn your friends. Rent to own is a trap, just like entitlement.

8 Replies to “Why Rent to Own is a Trap”

  1. I think we all want matching furntiure that is new and that no one has sat on before, but I think we do need to get to a point where we can afford it, and not just buy it because we think we are entitled to it.

  2. Absolutely! I think it's important to slow down and make that responsible, cost-effective choice. Waiting another month or two to save the money to buy a new couch is well worth the instant gratification of rent-to-own and costs way less.

  3. "Just because I want something doesn't mean I am entitled to it" Word! Entitlement is a huge problem both with people looking for jobs and how it pertains to debt. We want things now and we have a hard time waiting for things we really want. We live in an instant gratification culture.

  4. Well this makes me sound really lame but I have to get new couches because of my allergies…too many allergens in used couches…with that being said I definitely would not rent to own. I've ran the numbers on some of these offers too and it's crazy how much more you end up paying.

  5. No judgement here on getting a new couch DC! Go for it! I too would love a new couch but I'm certainly not going to pay that much to rent to own it

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