Re: Rugs - Quality Persians are easily had at auction for next to nothing. It is hard to know what you're getting into if you're a novice, as some rugs will go for thousands and others for nothing where to an uneducated eye they look the same - but hey, use that to your advantage. Room-size rugs in attractive enough Heriz patterns from the 1950s-1980s can be had for well under $1000. Condition won't always be perfect, but these are rugs you can live with and are pretty much bulletproof and will retain some level of their value in that you can probably turn them around at auction in 10 years and get a little bit of your investment back. You won't be able to say that about the department store rug or online flash sale carpet you'd buy as an alternative, for which the only real next destination is the garbage.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) I would not get too caught up in the thought that your carpet will appreciate in value. These are getting less popular as time wears on, and the market could continue to dry up. Styles have a way of being cyclical, so you never know, but I would probably generally count on a longer trend of Persians getting less, not more, popular.
I've furnished my house with very attractive Persians in 10x13-like sizes and paid $500-600 for each.
I wouldn't buy from the carpet guy. There's a lot of distribution and retail markup in new rugs and that's what you're paying for (along with that "make sure you're happy with it" return guarantee, or the ability to pick just the right one that pulls out the yellow in the curtains etc etc). If you're not on a tight schedule, take your time, find some local auction houses, and attend the auctions. Check out the rugs at the previews beforehand and use the auction estimates as a guideline. They won't always be correct, but they'll guide what sort of rugs you will generally be able to afford. If you can be patient, you'll find something really great at a price that won't break the bank.
Example: Here's a beautiful rug going to auction in a few weeks at my local auction house. Almost 10x14. Estimate is $1000-2000, but this is one that could go for under a grand depending on who's in the room. Condition appears to be very good - one with a little worn pile or some frayed fringe would go for half this much. Could also go for $3,000, you never know. But that's why you have to take your time a little bit.