Don't sign up for years of payments for furniture

Furnishing a First Apartment

by Pam Hutzler

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Furnishing a First Apartment

Well, the big day has finally come. You're moving into your very first apartment. You're going to be on your own, enjoying adult life. You know that you can handle both the responsibility and the cost. It's your time. Then you realize that although you've saved for first month, last month and security deposit, you really didn't save enough to fill your apartment with fancy new furniture buys. No worries! You may not be able to purchase that 42" flat screen that you've been eyeing. It'll have to wait, but there are plenty of budget-friendly ways to make your apartment livable and functional.

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Ask Friends and Family

Don't be afraid to ask around. Your family, friends, and neighbors may have useful items that are filling up their garages and spare rooms. And they just may want to donate to your worthy cause. If you feel funny about taking items as donations, consider bartering a favor. Mow their lawn, weed their garden, or wash their car in exchange for items you'd find useful. They'll enjoy the help and you'll enjoy having a chair to sit in or dishes to eat off.

Related: Furnishing Your First Apartment on a Small Budget

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Discover Estate Sales

Do you have an eye for the eclectic? Then there's no better place to find furnishings than at an estate sale. Not sure what an estate sale is? Estate sales are usually held by a company that has a couple days to sell everything in a house or apartment/condo after a death or move to a nursing home/assisted living. Well-made, sturdy furnishings abound at bargain basement prices if you're willing to give up a few Saturdays to peruse local estate sales.

Related: Why I Buy Estate Sale Furniture

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Don't Forget Dollar Stores

Dollar stores aren't only great places to buy gift wrap and greeting cards. They are also good for cheap kitchen items. You'll find dishes, silverware, measuring cups, and other necessary kitchen utensils. Also, if you want to get a few candles to add some ambience to your apartment, then check out the frugal decorating items they have in stock.

Related: Dollar Store Storage Solutions

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Hit Yard and Garage Sales

Although it'll be hit or miss and take a bit more time than other suggestions, yard and garage sales are great places to look for needed items. Get a newspaper or go online to find when and where local sales are happening. Then head out early on weekend mornings. Bring cash and a measuring tape, inspect items carefully, and be ready to negotiate and haggle. Also, keep an open mind and don't forget that paint may do wonders for a tired side table or bookshelf. If you need a little help giving new life to a piece of furniture, you'll find great instructions for various decorating on a dime ideas at

Related: Furniture Remakes

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Consider Cast-Offs

Do you live in a college or military town? If so, you've probably noticed that people are coming and going all the time. Storing items can get pricey for a broke college student. So, watch for cast-offs as students leave for their summer break. In fact, it may be a good idea to contact the college to see if they have a free pick up day or a lawn sale day for student cast-offs.

Moving heavy furniture may not be the best, most cost-effective solution for a military family heading to a new location. Or maybe a soldier rented storage space, but later abandoned items because a tour of duty was extended. Check at storage rental places for items that were never picked up.

Related: College Students and Storage Units

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Visit Thrift Stores

Find stores in your area that offer furniture and kitchenware and visit often. Call and ask how often they put out the "new" items. Don't be afraid to ask them about leaving a list of needed items with them. They just may agree to help you. Maybe they'd be willing to contact you about the items that you need if they happen to come in.

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Evolve Your New Space Slowly

Once you have your first apartment functional, you can slowly work to accumulate the coveted pieces you dream about owning. You do have a monthly budget, right? So include a furniture fund as part of your budget. As you put money aside, you can save up to buy pieces of furniture you really want. When you purchase furniture, be sure to choose quality pieces that will last and that you can use even if your decorating tastes change.

Debt Book

Related Articles:
How Much Money Does It Take to Set Up a First Apartment?

Reviewed April 2017

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Debt Book