When I moved into my first apartment, I was working for a non-profit and making very little money. My budget was tight, but I didn’t have any of my own furniture to use in my new place, I had to start completely fresh.
If you’re like me and struggling to furnish your apartment on a budget, find out how you can do so for under $1,000.
7 steps to furnishing an apartment on a budget
When you have limited funds, it’s important to have a plan in place before you head to the store. Here are seven steps you should follow to get what you need without breaking the bank.
1. Create a list of what you really need
With all the excitement of having a new place, it’s easy to get carried away. You might start dreaming of Pinterest-worthy liquor carts, giant murals, or farmhouse-chic barnhouse doors. But those “extras” come at a significant price.
Before blowing your budget on unnecessary items, make a list of what you really need. Below is a simple list of essentials for a small, one-bedroom apartment:
Sheets and blanket
Coffee table or ottoman
Dining table and chairs
Shower curtain and liner
Pots and pans
Decor (if budget allows)
2. Prioritize what’s important to you
If you bought everything on the above list brand new, you could easily spend thousands. Instead, think about what is most important to you, and spend a little extra only on those items. If you can cut down on the expense of other items, you can spend a bit more on major purchases.
For example, a comfortable bed was the most important thing to me (no one should have to deal with me if I don’t sleep well), so I was willing to splurge a little on that. A dining table was less critical to me, so I went with the cheapest option I could find.
3. Ask friends and family for help
Chances are, your friends and family have old furniture, kitchen supplies, or other household goods they don’t use anymore. If you tell them you’re trying to furnish your place on a budget and ask if they have anything going unused, they’ll likely give you their old things for free or at a very cheap price.
When I told my family, they donated a few things to my new home. I received an old pot and pan set that had seen better days cosmetically, but was still far better quality than anything I could have afforded to buy on my own.
4. Make use of freebies
If your friends and family cannot help, you can get still get great pieces for free — from strangers. Freecycle and the “free” section of Craigslist is a treasure trove of great finds. When people are in a rush to update the furniture, old artwork, or clear away clutter, they want to get rid of things quickly. That means they’re often willing to give away perfectly good items for free.
Check the sites regularly to find necessary pieces. By checking everyday, I was able to find an old steamer trunk that was beautiful. It served as a cool coffee table and gave me some much-needed storage space in my small apartment. I also scored a whole set of plates, mugs, and a hand-mixer.
5. Look for deals on Craigslist and Facebook
The Craigslist sales section and the Facebook marketplace can be a great resource to get quality pieces at a steep discount. You can get furniture, decor, and appliances for a fraction of their original price. Much of it is in excellent condition or even new.
In my case, I found a gorgeous bed-in-a-bag set, including comforter and sheets. A woman had bought it for a guest room, decided she hated the color, and sold it on Facebook for $25. Once I bought it and washed it, I looked up the original cost. It was still listed on Overstock.com for over $150. It was a beautiful set I couldn’t have afforded otherwise.
6. Give big stores a second look
You might think that big stores like Walmart or Amazon might not be worth looking at, but think again. For basic items, they can be a budget-friendly option.
I struggled with finding an affordable bed frame and mattress. However, those big stores came through for me. I found a queen-size bed frame on Amazon for $60, a headboard from WalMart for $100, and a memory foam mattress for just $175. Add in the $25 I spent on that comforter set I bought on Facebook, and I had a brand new, complete bed for just $360. That was a huge chunk of my $1,000 budget, but it was well worth it for a good night’s sleep.
7. Use cashback apps
You can stretch your dollars further by using cashback apps like eBates when you do your shopping on sites like Walmart, Amazon, Overstock, or Wayfair. They’re free to use and you can get as much as 30 percent cash back at some stores. The company will send you a check or deposit your money into a PayPal account, which you can use to buy any extras you want for your home.
In one year, I made about $500 from eBates, which helped me upgrade some of my home’s artwork.
8. For essentials, consider a small personal loan
No matter how hard you cut corners, you may run out of cash. If that happens and you still need essentials — like a mattress or a laptop to do work — consider taking out a small personal loan. Although entering into debt is never ideal, it can be worth it in some circumstances.
For example, after furnishing my home, I realized I needed a new laptop. I did a lot of freelancing after my day job, so a functional laptop would add to my earning potential. I took out a personal loan to buy a new one; within just a few months, I earned enough from freelancing to pay off the loan. The debt was a temporary measure that helped me boost my income.
Your New Home
Although setting up your new home can be overwhelming, you can create a cozy living space without blowing thousands of dollars. By using these tips, you can have an apartment you’re proud to call home.
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