Tips for Furnishing Your Home on the Cheap

Recently my roommate of two years moved out of my apartment. Mostly I am suffering from separation anxiety. I have to watch the Real Housewives alone?! Who will listen to my angry feminist rants?! Who will order an unnecessarily large amount of Chinese food take out with me?!

But I also had this frightening moment a few weeks ago when she started packing where I suddenly realized that all of the things in the apartment are hers. The couch, the coffee table, the dining room table, the TV, the plates, silverware, pots, pans . . . ALL THE THINGS. I looked around and was like, “What do I even actually own in here?!” The answer is a large, framed One Direction poster and a microwave. What else do you need in life, though? I’ll be fine.

Maybe I will just give up my apartment and start living under my desk at work.

Maybe I will just give up my apartment and start living under my desk at work. It’s comfortable there. 

Luckily my new roommate is a real adult who owns stuff like a couch and spoons so I won’t be living alone in a completely empty apartment. But the change in living arrangements did make me realize how expensive it is to live on your own. Besides being able to afford your rent or mortgage payment, you also have to pay for all of the stuff that goes inside your living space. If I had needed to start from scratch on my own here’s an estimate of the things I would have to purchase and their cost:

  • Couch – $299.00
  • Chair – $109.00
  • Coffee Table –  $49.99
  • Area Rug – $300.00
  • TV – $139.99
  • Dining Room Table & Chairs – $500.00
  • Pots/Pans – $29.99
  • Cups, Plates, Bowls – $9.99
  • Silverware – $19.99
  • Toaster – $19.99

Total Cost = $1,477.94

That’s a lot of money! I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $1,500 just laying around. Here’s a few tips to help make the cost of filling your living space more manageable:

  • Ask family and friends – People are always moving, redecorating, and reorganizing. You never know who might be looking to get rid of just the item you need. And they most likely will be willing to sell it to you for much cheaper than you could buy it new. Or maybe they’ll even just give to you for free. The only household items I do own are all things that were donated to me by friends and family. That microwave was given to me by a coworker. My bed I “borrowed” from the spare room at my parent’s house. But the One Direction poster, I will have you know, I bought with my own hard-earned money.
  • Buy used – If no one you know has the household item you’re looking for, try a consignment store or website. They often have gently used items for a reasonable price. People tend to think places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army only have clothes, but they often get larger items donated too. And online sites like Craigslist make it easy to shop for what you want. Even yard sales can have the items you’re looking for. It doesn’t have to be brand new, just functional and clean!
  • Shop bargain stores – My best tip for buying household items is the Christmas Tree Shop. If you’ve never been there you are missing out. They have a ton of kitchenware, furniture, decorations, etc. for super cheap. That’s where I found the pricing for the stuff on my list like plates and silverware. They had an entire 21-piece set of plates, bowls, cups, and mugs for $9.99. It was plastic and bright red but hey, it’ll do the job just fine!
  • Prioritize – Furnishing an apartment or home can be costly. Like I said, I certainly don’t have the extra cash in my budget to buy all the stuff I listed above in big big shopping spree. So the solution might be to prioritize what stuff you can’t live without and buy those things first. I need plates and forks so I don’t have to eat with my hands. But a rug can probably wait until I can save up the money to purchase one. You don’t have to buy it all in one day. Pace your purchases so they are affordable.

Hopefully one day soon I will have my own furniture and kitchenware. But until then, I have my poster of One Direction to keep me company while I eat my microwaved meals with my fingers. 🙂


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