IKEA Math

BRONZE MAN

I’d never get a job there!

“I couldn’t afford a trip to Europe after college so I went backpacking through an IKEA to find myself.”
–Unknown

I’m a fan of IKEA furniture. It’s inexpensive, good quality, looks fairly nice in the house, and, for us, has lasted quite a while. We have two wingback chairs, two ottomans, a couple of storage boxes cum stools, a filing cabinet, two nightstands, and goodness knows what else from IKEA.

Aside from the nightstands, those were fairly easy to assemble. Screw in a few bolts, and voila! Ready-made furniture.

Since we moved to Fort Worth, we’ve been a little short on bedroom storage. Our old house had built-in shelves in a very large walk-in closet, so there was no need for additional furniture. However, in our apartment, such space doesn’t really exist, and we’ve been cramming clothes into nooks and crannies for three months. Fortunately for us, the IKEA is only about an hour’s drive from where we live.

Unfortunately, the pieces that we needed – a cabinet for the office, and two chests of drawers – were not only too big for our cars, but they would have taken up an entire weekend and goodness knows how many scrapes, tears, ripped fingernails, and utterances of new cuss words, given that I’m not the world’s most handy person.

We looked into renting a U-Haul to carry everything back or into bribing relatives with a nice dinner and a case of beer to borrow a truck or SUV, but the costs wound up being about the same as having IKEA deliver everything to us.

Still, I was not looking forward to having to put together those pieces of furniture. I remembered my adventures in assembling a grill that was supposed to take one hour to assemble and wound up taking five hours.

Plus, the grill had readable instructions.

IKEA’s instructions?

IKEA Instructions by Fort Worth Financial Planner Hull Financial Planning

Tears welled up in my eyes at the thought of tackling the enormous IKEA jigsaw puzzle.

Fortunately, once my wife arrived at IKEA, she found an alternate solution.

The IKEA Assembly Line Delivered Right to Your House!


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Not only could IKEA deliver the furniture to our apartment, but they could send a professionally trained team to assemble it for us!

Score!

The price?

$150.

Since I still occasionally struggle to step away from my frugal tipping point, the cost seemed high.

Surely, with adequate training and an innate sense of mechanical aptitude, the IKEA trained personnel could assemble furniture in, say, an hour.

This wasn’t rocket surgery or financial planning we were talking about. It was screwing part A and part B together and repeating about 50 times.

Then, I remembered.

I was confusing price for value, and there are times when skimping simply isn’t worth it.

$150 for assembly of three pieces of furniture that would meet IKEA certified assembly standards, compared to me and my wife spending an entire weekend in misery trying to put together boxes of boards, screws, and bolts?

I was completely and utterly forgetting to value my own time.

Once I reframed the decision and included the zeroes, it was much easier:

We can spend $0 and 16 miserable weekend hours assembling furniture (and $1,000 for subsequent marriage counseling), or we can spend $150 and 0 miserable weekend hours assembling furniture.

We ordered the assembly service along with the delivery and eagerly awaited our new furniture.

On the appointed day, 3 IKEA-trained assemblers/haulers/deliverers/drivers arrived to haul several boxes of furniture up to our third floor apartment.

They then started unpacking, hammering, screwing, fitting, and all of the other tasks required to turn a pile of wood into a thing of beauty.

3 hours later, they were done.

Yes, three hours for three people to assemble three pieces of furniture.

9 man hours at $150, or $16.67 per hour.

We tipped them $40, so that made the total cost $190, or $21.11 per hour.

When they walked out of the door, my wife looked at each other and said, almost instantaneously:

THAT was worth it!

If it took trained IKEA assemblers 9 hours to put the furniture together, it would have probably taken us 27. Assuming that we’d only want to work 4 hours per day on furniture construction, that would have been 3+ weekends.

I can think of better ways to spend my time, so this was totally worth the expense to me.

The finished product?

IKEA Furniture by Fort Worth Financial Planner Hull Financial Planning

Dog not included.

How about you? Would you spend $21.11 per hour to avoid assembling furniture? What are some other areas where you trade money for time? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

About Jason Hull, CFP®

Jason Hull, CFP®, is the Chief Technology officer of myFinancialAnswers, an online comprehensive financial planning service.

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