(ARA) You may be able to get a few more years out of your car, and you've definitely decided to put off purchasing a big-screen, high-def plasma TV. But sometimes buying furniture is not a luxury, it's a necessity.

When you see ads for no-interest financing deals, you may feel better about replacing your decrepit dining room set or ditching that couch that threatens to collapse every time the kids sit on it. There certainly are good deals available in a recession, and you shouldn't put off buying something you really need. But the concept of "buyer beware" becomes even more important in an economy where furniture dealers are all equally desperate for your dollars, but not all equally ethical in how they go about getting you to hand over your money.

Brad Haas, a furniture expert with manufacturer Carrington Court Direct, offers a few tips to make sure you get the best possible deal on furniture in an economic downturn, when it's more important than ever to get the most for your money.

"Some of the best deals can be found during a recession, since manufacturers and stores are motivated," Haas says. But even if you've found a "deal" at your local furniture showroom, if you buy retail you'll still probably be paying more than you have to. "Be skeptical of deals that seem too good to be true -- they probably are. Cheap furniture may be cheaply constructed and is not always a good deal. Quality should always be a factor in your buying decisions."

Consider these issues when evaluating a furniture purchase:

* Is shipping free? Probably not. Shipping furniture can be costly and no store can afford to eat that cost. If they're advertising free shipping, most likely the shipping costs have been rolled into the sales price. Calculate the cost of shipping (usually 15 to 20 percent of the price) and deduct that amount from the asking price.

* Beware of no interest/no payments schemes. These plans usually are attached to lower-quality furniture that will last five years or less. By the time you're done paying it off, the furniture is worn out and you'll need to buy (and possibly finance) new furniture again.

* Going-out-of-business sales are not always a good deal. There are companies that specialize in this type of business. The furniture may be marked up above retail prices before being "discounted," giving you a false perception that you're getting a good deal.

Shopping online can be a good way to get great deals on furniture, Haas says. You can easily compare prices, save time and gas by not driving around to multiple stores, and you'll find a large selection of styles and fabrics to choose from -- probably more than you would be able to find in your average furniture showroom. Keep in mind you won't see the piece until it's actually delivered, so be sure to choose online merchants whose sites offer plenty of information and who emphasize customer satisfaction and service.

Look for online sellers, like Carrington Court, where you'll be buying from and dealing directly with the manufacturer. You'll find more affordable prices and better customer service. In business for 25 years, Carrington Court specializes in dining and parsons chairs, and offers a lifetime warranty on the furniture's frames, a quality guarantee and a huge selection. An outlet option offers top quality furniture at great savings, with the same lifetime warranty. You can choose from hundreds of fabrics online, or send your own. Production and shipping are speedy, and if there's ever a problem you can speak to the manufacturer directly.

"In a down economy, many people may be reluctant to buy furniture they really need," Haas says. "But it is possible to find a good deal on quality furniture, if you know where and how to look for it."

To learn more about Carrington Court, visit www.CarringtonCourtDirect.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent