There’s no doubt that furniture shopping is fun, but it can also be painful to cough up all the cash you need for such a high-ticket purchase. But in my five years working at a furniture store I learned several insider tips that can help take some of the sting out of buying these expensive items. Here are five ways to bring down your costs when shopping at a furniture store:

1. Negotiate accessory prices

Most furniture stores, especially chain stores, are not going to negotiate a discount of more than 20 or 25 percent on any non-clearance item (and some stores where you buy the entire room for one price will not negotiate at all). One way to get a better deal is to ask for a large discount on an accessory. Accessories are any non-furniture item the stores sells, including lamps, rugs, knick-knacks and paintings. These items are heavily marked up and tend to sell slowly, giving salespeople more motivation to negotiate on the price. The more furniture you’re buying, the better discount you can get on an accessory. Some salespeople will even throw in knick-knacks or furniture repair kits for free with a large purchase. One customer in my store was able to negotiate two free lamps on a whole living room purchase, saving her $180.

2. Know when to shop

Some stores seem to always have a sale—and some stores have been 'going out of business' for five years! However the best sales are offered in December, January, May and June. Some experts say these dates correspond to common vacation dates, others suggest it's because that's when many stores change their inventory. Whichever reason is correct, if you can wait until these months to make your purchase, you’ll find better bargains. For example, a typical sale on a sofa is 10 percent off, but during one of these larger sale seasons, that same sofa could be on sale for 20–25 percent off. For a sofa that usually costs $1000, you’ll save $250 just by shopping at the right time.

3. Negotiate on clearance items

Floor models and clearance items are sometimes marked down because they have visible flaws, but usually because the store needs to sell them to make room for new items. Not only are these items already marked down, but there is a good amount of room for negotiation. Clearance and floor models routinely sell for 50 percent off (and often even more). Remember your negotiation tips and don't be shy asking for a significant discount—I once saw a customer get a $1000 sofa for only $400, saving them a whopping $600!

4. Don’t finance through the store

A lot of furniture stores offer zero percent financing deals to entice shoppers. This is frequently used as a technique to get the buyer to add on another item or to consider a more expensive piece of furniture ("You have 12 interest-free months to pay off that additional $250!") But don't fall for it! What they aren't telling you is that if you are even one day late on a payment, all interest is retroactive to the purchase date, and the interest rate is usually very high (around 18 percent or more). This can cost you hundreds of dollars in the long run. I remember a customer who was three days late on their very last payment for a living room that cost close to $2500. The late payment paid off the final $200 owed on the furniture—but the 18 percent interest rate was applied to the entire purchase price, and she ended up owning an additional $450 after the furniture was paid off! Save yourself the money and headache and bypass these plans.

5. Skip the fabric protection

When purchasing an upholstered item, many stores will offer a fabric-protection plan, usually Scotchgard brand. This plan usually costs upwards of $80 (the price of the protection plan is strangely tied to the cost of the sofa instead of the size). However, you can easily buy a can of Scotchgard—which is the same exact product—and apply it yourself. A can of Scotchgard can be purchased for $10 or less at many stores and online. For a $500 sofa, the store's fabric protection would cost around $80, which means you’d save $70 by doing it yourself!

5 Ways to Save at the Furniture Store