How to Furnish Your Home on the Low

For most young people setting out, furnishing an apartment will mean several trips to Target and Ikea. Many of us shopped at the big box stores for our dorm rooms, and so that’s what we know. The problem with shopping for furniture this way is that the furniture sold at these retailers is often poorly made and overpriced. These stores charge more for furniture that is trendy but made of cheap particle board and/or plastic. While this furniture will usually look good, it is more likely to be damaged during a move.

Another option those just starting out will often find attractive is renting furniture. The obvious advantage of furnishing your apartment with the newest furniture, without paying major costs upfront, tends to be a waste of money in the long run. Furniture rental companies generally charge a premium for the convenience of rental. When the monthly payment is multiplied over two years, you will often be paying more than if you had purchased the furniture new.

Finally, if you have an empty space you need to fill fast, you may be tempted to take advantage of the financing options available at the chain furniture stores. Taking advantage of the no interest period is one of the best ways to by new furniture, while paying monthly instead of upfront. However, as someone who has moved several times in my adult life, and sold or given away several living rooms that I couldn’t move with me, I would urge you to try used furniture. Buying used is not only a money saver, but is great for the environment. By recycling unwanted furniture items, you are helping to preserve trees and keeping perfectly good furniture out of landfills. After having to sell perfectly good furniture several times, I now avoid buying brand new furniture. Below are some of the methods I use to find unwanted use furniture.

$ Find Free Unwanted Furniture. The Craigslist free listings can be pretty competitive, but they’re worth it. I’ve used Craigslist free when I was in a pinch on move day. Sometimes furniture doesn’t fit on the truck. I had to give away a sleeper sofa that didn’t fit up the stairs of my new apartment. Many people assume that people aren’t willing to pay for used furniture so they put it on the Craigslist free. My boyfriend and I gave away a 3 year old leather couch with cat scratches on Craigslist. Like I said, I’ve given away a lot of furniture. A few months later we saw a much older much more worn couch on sale at a discount furniture store. Our loss was somebody else’s gain.

Another tip is to put out feelers to friends and family. Many people have furniture cluttering up their homes, that they would be happy to give away to someone they know. Try posting on social media to let friends know that you are looking. Your friends may have friends who are moving that they can connect you with as well.

$$ Find Used Furniture. Craigslist is also a great resource for used furniture. Additionally thrift stores often sell furniture items. One of my favorite resources for use furniture is your local Habitat for Humanity Restore. Restore’s accept used furniture as donations and sell them to raise funds for affordable housing. Yard sales are another good resource. I like to use the Nextdoor app to find yard sales and neighbors who have items to sell.

$$ Damaged New Furniture. Sometimes you can get lucky and find discounted floor models. Ikea has a dent and scratch room reserved for damaged floor models and returned items. This is not as common at Target and Ikea, although you will likely find similar deals at the larger warehouse furniture stores.

With most of these options you will have to factor in the cost of moving the furniture yourself. I would recommend renting a moving van from Home Depot. These vans will fit a significant amount of furniture, and are inexpensive to rent hourly. You can rent one for a few hours and respond to several adds or hit up a few yard sales on a Saturday.

Furnishing your apartment with used furniture saves you money and the thrill of the hunt is sure to be an exciting adventure. I’ve had friends who made cross country moves and only paid for curtains and bedding. How do you save on furniture? Happy Hunting!



By Cara

I'm a 29 year old urban planner who recently bought a home. I'm trying to build my dream home/garden while sticking to a budget and keeping my sanity.

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