Serious Number Crunching on Mattress Purchases

by Kevin on April 8, 2014

It’s almost that time. Our mattress is about ten years old.

I shudder to think how we will survive.

Is it time to replace our mattress? “The industry” says consumers should replace a mattress every five to ten years. But “the industry” has a lot to gain from selling me a lot of mattresses over my lifetime.

Consumer Reports has said you can keep your mattress as long as you like. If you’re getting good back support, no sagging, and a good nights sleep then your mattress is doing its job.

Nonetheless the months are counting down to the time we have to go mattress shopping. Also known as “the most useless shopping experience that you hope works out.”

Really, you think laying down on a mattress in the store for 30 seconds is going to give you an idea of what to expect over the next decade? Eesch. I wish we could just duplicate the mattress we have!

I bought my mattress in college when I moved out of the dorms and into a duplex. It was delivered by a nice guy who carried it in all by himself. That’s about all I remember.

I paid somewhere in the $600 to $700 range for a pillowtop something or another. I think it’s a Serta. It’s comfortable. Best mattress I’ve ever slept on.

But now there are $1,000, $2,500, even $3,500 mattresses out there. Are they worth it?

Running the Numbers on Buying a New Mattress

I won’t be dropping multi-thousands of dollars on a mattress. I just honestly can’t believe that there is that big of a difference between a $1,000 mattress and a $3,500 one unless we’re talking the difference between normal springs and fancy, NASA-grade foam. (I prefer the normal springs, too.)

I will argue there can be a huge difference between a $300 mattress and a $750 mattress, but that’s just my experience. If you find a $300 mattress you love, then buy it, sleep on it, and enjoy it.

If you are hesitant to drop $750 on a mattress, even if you find it more comfortable than a cheaper option, let’s do some math before walking out of the store.

Cost Per Day, Month, and Year

Let’s assume there are two scenarios: one where you keep a mattress five years and another where you replace only once per decade.

Now let’s take your target mattress cost and divide it up over the days, months, and years of those two time periods.

Our $300 mattress over five years would cost us:

  • $0.164 per day
  • $5 per month
  • $60 per year

Over ten years the same mattress would cost:

  •  $0.082 per day
  • $2.50 per month
  • $30 per year

Seems like a fantastic value either way if it holds up that long.

Now let’s look at the $750 mattress. Here’s what five years looks like:

  • $0.411 per day
  • $12.50 per month
  • $150 per year

And over 10 years:

  • $0.205 per day
  • $6.25 per month
  • $75 per year

What are you willing to pay?

I’m not arguing the $750 is superior in every way. But if they last just as long and the $750 mattress is more comfortable, you have to ask yourself, “Would I pay an extra 12.3 cents per day to get a better night’s rest? Or an extra $3.75 per month? Or a whopping $45 per year?”

When you look at it in that context the more expensive and supposedly more comfortable mattress is a far better deal. $300 is pretty cheap for a mattress and it probably pretty basic. I’d gladly pay more than double that to get a pillow top from a name brand that I knew would last.

The incremental cost of each day, month, or year is so small that it seems like a no-brainer. We spend 1/4 to 1/3 of our lives asleep in bed. Paying for one that allows for the best rest seems like a smart idea to me.

How much was your mattress and how long have you had it?

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