Thrifty Mattress Options That Won’t Break the Bank (or Your Back!)

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A good-quality bed is important but it sure can be expensive. How about some thrifty mattress options to help you get a solid night’s sleep on a dime?

I think we can all agree that a night of good sleep is important to all of us. In fact, a recent article on The Frugalite emphasized the importance of good sleep for our overall health and immune system function.

Thrifty Mattress Options That Won’t Break Your Back or the Bank

In this article, I am sharing some options for buying a mattress that are good for your pocketbook and your sleep. All of these, as you will see, are options that I have tried and/or am sleeping on myself today.

It is important for me to mention that I have a sensitive back. Especially when I was younger, my back could go out if I slept on a mattress that was too soft. These days, I work hard on a local farm, which involves a lot of shoveling. My back is how I earn my living! So, I can definitely say that all of the options I offer come from someone who has to take extra care about what kind of bed I sleep on.

New mattress math

Have you seen the cost of mattresses these days? Before I offer my low-cost examples, I wanted to share a bit of bed math with you. I took a quick look at a local furniture store flyer and saw that most mattress options are in the $1,000 range. The particular store in question offers some payment plans.

For example, one queen-sized mattress in the mid-price range with 1070 pocket coils was $1,000, advertised as $13.34 per month. But Wait!!! That is a 72-month term: You will be paying for your bed for six years. In addition, in the small print there is a fee of $249 for this privilege. So, you are paying 25% of the cost of the bed so that you can pay for the bed for six years. That brings your total up to $1,250 for the bed. In addition, the small print contains an important caution: should you miss just one of these payments over the six-year period, your promo offer “may be canceled and interest will be calculated at the account AIR (Annual Interest Rate).” What are these interest rates, you might ask? They range from a whopping 31.9% to an even more whopping 37.99%.

During these uncertain times, I am avoiding credit deals like this and trying my best to buy what I need only with cash.

Futon Bed

You may remember lumpy and overly hard futon mattresses that were easy on the wallet and hard on your back. This version of a futon can be almost as comfortable as a $1000 mattress but much easier on the wallet. What makes this particular futon so much better? It does not only have cotton filling inside the mattress, but real springs, too.

I have owned a futon mattress like this for over 14 years. For many years, I had it on a metal fold-out couch frame with wooden arms. I sold the couch frame when I no longer needed it, as it would not fit in my 8 by 24-foot tiny house. The mattress was soooo comfortable that I kept it and used it in my tiny house as my couch. It sat on a plywood platform that also allowed it to slide out flat for sleeping.  When the tiny house sells, I will likely keep my treasured mattress in the loft of my eco-cabin for guests. After 14 years, it still gives a great night of sleep. I did a quick search for similar mattresses online, sometimes listed as futon “hybrids” and found some similar ones available for under $500.

Bed in a Bag

My current bed is a bed in a bag. Not the typical “bed in a bag”, this is ACTUALLY a BED in a bag. Believe me, I am as surprised as you are! The bed was purchased from a hardware store as a temporary measure when I needed to stay in another city every week for several nights at a time. This particular model is quite simple. It has a blow-up mattress with a foot pump and an expanding metal frame for legs. There is a fabric casing kind of like a sleeping bag that holds the blow-up mattress in place inside of it.

When I began sleeping on this, I could not believe how comfortable it was. The one drawback to this bed is that it does make some noises. I fondly call it “crunchy bed” for this reason. I guess it is the plastic aspect of the mattress that makes the noise as you change position. However, I don’t find that this interferes with my sleep at all. I have added a modest foam bed topper to the mix, which cost me around $40. Although it doesn’t seem to reduce the noises the bed makes, it does make it feel much more like a regular bed.

All told, I have been sleeping on this now for around eight months, plus around another month of use previously. My total cost for this is $100 for the bed and $40 for the topper. Not bad, eh?

Gently Used Mattress

There have been times in my life where I have bought my mattress used from a thrift shop, The Salvation Army. Money was tight and this was the best option I could manage. The last time I did this was around 20 years ago. These days, it seems like there are many more problems with bed bugs and such, so I’m not sure I would be as willing to take a chance.

However, a quick look at online sales forums like Kijiji or Craigslist and you will find many options where you can get a gently used bed for much less than regular retail prices.

Department Store Floor Models and Other Discounts

One time I went shopping for a new mattress at a good department store during a sale. Because I was looking at the floor model, I was able to negotiate an even better price. I got a great bed for almost half of what it would have cost for one from the warehouse! Sometimes, bed and mattress stores will have sales for their floor models or mismatched mattresses or clearance items. It may be possible to get a big discount on a bed with an opened box that may have been returned. Shopping around local stores and asking staff about their sales and what is available on clearance could help you save lots of money.

I bought my beloved futon at a department store outlet in a large discount outlet mall near where I lived. It had been marked down dramatically because it had a flaw: the braces at the base of the metal that usually kept the futon from slouching down were backwards. I was more than happy to live with this challenge because of the money I saved. Imagine my amazement around three years after I bought it: a handy friend noticed the futon was slipping down. He just climbed under it and found what the problem was: one metal bracket has been screwed in backwards at the factory. Bingo! It was like a new couch!

Do you have any thrifty mattress options to suggest?

“This bed is just right!” Just like Goldilocks, we hope you, too, have a mattress that is just right.

If you are shopping for a bed, could you see yourself trying any of the thrifty bed options offered here? Have you found a thrifty mattress using another method that you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.

Thrifty Mattress Options That Won\'t Break the Bank (or Your Back!)
Colette

Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. (www.halfacrehomestead.ca) Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in February 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!

6 thoughts on “Thrifty Mattress Options That Won’t Break the Bank (or Your Back!)”

  1. I’m sleeping on an air mattress that I bought 4 years ago for $8 at Walmart. And I weigh over 200 lbs. I put it on top of my box spring and it works best for me because I have arthritis in my knees, hips, back and shoulders and the air bed gives me the best support without putting pressure on those sore body points.

    1. Hi Tamkae, Thank you so much! You just might have the thriftiest bed ever! This is particularly helpful for folks in your situation, where arthritis might mean that a firm mattress is more of a harm than a helper. Also helpful to hear that you have put this on your box spring with good result. Many thanks and so glad to hear that this is working for you!

  2. I’ve slept quite comfortably on a four (or six) inch slab of foam. I think my futon cost $200 new? Some of them really are super comfortable, so you’re bang on, there!

    1. Hi Redbranch, This is great to hear that you’ve had success with foam. I have my foam topper, which I think helps with my air mattress. You’ve got another super thrifty bed. I am sure this will inspire other readers to consider these options. Many thanks!

  3. I’m a huge fan of futons, but add some “cush” to make my hips not hurt. A futon or an airmattress covered with something to protect my hips makes me happy.

    1. Hi Anna, Thanks for adding your thoughts. I’m sure there are lots of readers with concerns for their hips. I’m wondering what you would add to protect your hips? I have a 2 inch foam topper on my air mattress….would that do the trick or are you thinking of something more substantial? If you have a chance, would love to hear more. Much appreciated!

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