Furnishing Your New Home Without Breaking the Bank
If you can afford rent, you can afford furniture — as long as you’re willing to take it one piece at a time.
Moving into your new rental home can be quite exciting, but it can also be draining — particularly on the wallet. Obtaining all of the furniture you might need isn’t easy, especially if the place doesn’t come with some things you might consider ‘basic,’ like a microwave or washer and dryer. But with a little cleverness, you can get the things you need to get by until you can get the things you want.
The Things You Want, Inexpensively
The key to getting the stuff you really want — the leather sofa, the platform bed, the mahogany desk — is patience and persistence. Furniture sales happen regularly, but there are some predictable occasions for a great deal. Memorial Day and Veterans Day are solid sales, but the ‘holy crap’ sales on furniture are almost always on Independence Day and in the week running up to Christmas Eve. If you can get by until one of these big sales, you can save up a little each week until you can spring for something truly cool at a significant discount.
Also, walk in knowing this: even on sale, that furniture is probably marked up 10% or more above the salesman’s minimum-acceptable price. Don’t hesitate to haggle downward — or, if you’re uncomfortable haggling, ask nicely for a small free extra, be it delivery or some throw pillows.
The Things You Need, Almost Free
Unfortunately, the times when furniture sales happen rarely coincide with the times that you need to move — so getting furniture immediately isn’t always easy. Fortunately, as long as you’re willing to commit to dealing with something substandard for now, you can get by on startlingly little money, especially if you live alone.
The key is in knowing how to clean used furniture adequately. Investing in a single household steam cleaner (not the floor kind!) will give you most of what you need to purge mattresses, couches and loveseats, curtains, and almost any kind of fabric with an hour’s effort. Used properly, that means you can turn to resources like Freecycle, Craigslist‘s free section, or even the garage sale section of your local paper! (Stop by in the last few hours and you’ll be amazed at what five bucks can get you.)
If you have an iPhone, there are a few solid apps you can try, too: Krrb is great for connecting you with neighbors that want to get rid of stuff, and OfferUp is basically the app version of Craigslist.
The Long-term Plan
The idea here is pretty simple: live small, buy cheap, clean thoroughly, and replace something when it’s worn out. But it’s important that as you do this, you sock away $10 or so every week, so that when the big sale of the season comes around, you’ve got $300 or so that you can spend on one big item that will last you for several years.
Start with the stuff that is the most important for your comfort and health: usually your bed, but if you work from home or spend a lot of time online, you might want to begin with an office chair. Work your way down the list of vitals until you’re satisfied with all of the furniture in your home.
Keep the steam cleaner, though — those things are handy.