How one IT guy conquered mattress shopping with a spreadsheet

Myelle Lansat

By

Myelle Lansat

Myelle Lansat

Personal Finance Editor

Myelle Lansat is a personal finance editor at Policygenius. She writes and edits the Easy Money Newsletter.

Published December 23, 2020|3 min read

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Buying a new mattress is a big investment. Research shows the average American spends 36 years in bed. So when it came time for Jonathan Puebla, an information technology project manager at Policygenius, and his girlfriend Kara Dudley to buy a mattress, he considered every detail.

The holidays are a popular time to buy a new mattress because many brands have sales spanning from Black Friday to New Years. A typical mattress can last up to 10 years and cost around $1,000. Puebla and Dudley moved in together in January 2020, but sharing Puebla’s 5-year-old mattresses didn’t work for Kara, who experiences chronic neck and partial back pain.

“She went on Instagram and started posting for mattress recommendations and that triggered me,” he said. “I thought about redeeming myself and started doing all this research and documenting the data and metrics so we could compare mattresses.”

Here’s how Puebla’s multi-week hunt resulted in the ultimate mattress spreadsheet and their dream bed.

Finding the perfect mattress

Puebla didn’t want to go with the most popular mattress.

“I like to take the road less traveled,” he said. “The first mattress that came to mind was a Casper, but I didn’t want the most popular one because it would likely be the most expensive,” Puebla said. His research confirmed this: The Casper costs $571 more than the least-expensive mattress he considered.

The couple aimed for a mattress that cost less than $1,000, had medium-firm support, painless shipping and delivery, and a reasonable return policy. Puebla started researching everything he could about bed brands. Because of the pandemic, the couple couldn’t test mattresses in person, so he relied on company websites and customer reviews.

The spreadsheet

Puebla creates spreadsheets for major purchases to help him visualize his choices, especially if it impacts someone else. “When there’s a lot of options on the table, it helps to break it down in one color-coded chart,” he said. Puebla created an Excel document to put his multi-week mattress research in one place. He compared beds from Tuft & Needle, Nectar, DreamCloud, Idle Hybrid, Layla, Casper, and Purple.

His criteria included:

  • The base price

  • Shipping and handling costs

  • Warranty

  • Trial periods

  • Sale price and length of sale

  • Firmness

  • Mattress types, like standard vs. luxury models

  • Additional features like pillows, sheets and a mattress protector.

If he could do the process over again, he would add ship time to his Excel sheet.

Check out Puebla's mattress research spreadsheet here.

The winner

Puebla collected data for a few weeks and then compiled it in a spreadsheet, which made the winning mattress clear.

“I was able to see and compare all the features and specs in one view, rather than having to jump from site to site,” he said. “I formulated the data, looked at the spreadsheet and it was obvious what the right choice was.”

They ended up purchasing a standard queen Nectar mattress, which was on sale for $799, including pillows, a mattress protector, sheets and a lifetime warranty.

“When we looked at their website, we saw the sale price was ending in five hours and we had to act fast to get those items.”

Doing the research and having the spreadsheet in front of them gave the couple the confidence they needed to purchase the bed — especially under a time restraint. They caught the sale price and their total came to $870 with tax, shipping and handling. It takes seven to 10 business days to receive the mattress and they expect to get it after the holidays.

His No. 1 advice to anyone in the market for a new mattress is to consider all the factors — don’t always get the most popular one. Timing is important too. While many mattresses go on sale over the holidays, May is also a good time to get a deal, according to Sleep Advisor.

“Look at the sale prices and look at what's included in the purchase. Reviews aren’t everything but they help,” he said. “Don’t go with the most popular one — see what other options are available and spec it out.

Image: EMS Forster Productions (Getty)