You’ve dreamt of it, longed for it and even looked forward to it and it’s finally here! Moving into an apartment is a big step. It gives you that sense of being independent and ready to start a new phase in your life.
Whether you’re moving into an apartment in college or are making your way to a ‘grown-up’ apartment after college, it’s kind of hard to explain what goes through your mind: A mixture of fear and excitement. You may not know what awaits ahead, but you probably feel ready for it.
Living with your friends is easier because you can split costs with them. You also have someone to talk to and share the adventures of everyday life with.
If you’re starting out, it’s worth noting that it’s a costly affair. From furniture to decorations, it can be quite intimidating.
Ask almost everyone and they’ll probably tell you that you can’t furnish your space without green. That’s not entirely true.
You’re moving to an apartment- not a mansion. And that’s why you need only the basics for starters. Get stuff like a slow cooker, a bed, a mattress, cleaning supplies, cookware, and a table for a start.
It may not seem like what you had in mind, but these should keep you going for the moment. Many people spend a fortune on their new apartments. They want to make a statement to their old folks and buddies.
It’s perfectly normal to want that. However, it’s better to look beyond impressing your guests whenever they visit. You need food, and there are bills that you’ll need to clear.
But don’t fret. This post will give you ideas on how to make things bearable for you and your bank account. Without further ado, here are tips on how to furnish your apartment with little or no money at all:
Table of Contents
1. Sign Up to The Freecycle Network
Started on May 1st 2003 by Deron Beal, The Freecycle Network is a non-profit movement of people that strive to keep usable household equipment out of landfills.
It started with a group of 30-40 friends plus a small number of nonprofits in Tucson, Arizona. Currently, it consists of approximately 5,000+ groups, with an impressive 9 million members around the world.
The members give and receive stuff for free in their towns.
You don’t have to pay to be a part of it. Their rules are pretty simple: Whatever you post must be free, suitable for people of all age groups and legal.
To sign up, go to the movement’s website and create an account. Enter a valid email address and select a username that’s not so easy to guess.
Upon signing up, you get emails of all the free stuff that’s available in your city or town daily. For better deals, set your notifications to be instant.
As a member of the movement, you shouldn’t:
- Try to gain access to The Freecycle Network’s computer systems without permission
- Contact anyone who doesn’t want to be contacted
- Use automated methods such as data mining tools, robots, and spiders to download data from the Service. There’s an exception for non-commercial public archives and internet search engines
- Gather private details about other users for unlawful or commercial purposes
- Harass or stalk anyone
- Share threatening, vulgar, illegal, obscene, harassing, harmful, libelous and other offensive material through the Service
- Post similar content repeatedly
2. Take a Walk In Your Neighborhood
Different people have different definitions of trash. Some have no problem getting rid of a perfectly nice armchair or couch.
If you live in a large neighborhood, take advantage of this. Set aside a day if you’re busy most of the time to walk around the hood and see what you can find.
You could drive around in a car too, but to save on fuel, using your natural means of movement is a better idea.
You can always invite a friend to tag along if you feel uncomfortable doing it on your own.
For a better chance of getting lots of stuff, make your rounds at the end of the month when many people are clearing their apartments and homes before moving out.
Also, try not to be too picky. Don’t reject a piece of furniture because it’s filthy or doesn’t suit your style. We all have to start somewhere.
More often than not, you’ll find items that are in poor condition. Take your time and fix them up. If it’s beyond you, take them to a carpenter. They may charge you less if what you’ve got is old. Or, save money by taking it to one of your pals who’s got a magical touch on furniture.
Note: Universities and colleges are also cool places to check out. If you live near one, skulk around their dumpsters on moveout day or at the end of every semester. Get ready to deal with the heavy and nightmarish parking that you might find there.
3. Attend Yard Sales
The more yard sales you attend, the more your chances of bagging something great each time. A tiny drawback is you may not always know when one is underway.
One of the ways to know about a yard sale (although not effective) is to look for signs posted around your neighborhood.
Maximize your opportunity to attend sales by checking any local websites that post such information. Google can help you out. Just google yard sales in your area and see what’s available.
If you’re on Facebook, you can also check if there are any Yard Sale Groups in your location.
Upon finding a yard sale, here are some yard sale shopping pointers you can put into use to get great items at affordable prices:
- Bargain if necessary. If the seller isn’t ready to lower the cost, check back later in the day
- Buy stuff that you need and know how to use
- Arrive at the sale early in the morning when great stuff is in plenty
- Plan your yard sale path in advance
- Bring your yard sale toolkit with you. These are supplies and tools that help you get your products home in one piece and make the right choice
- Think outside the box. Don’t use an item for its original purpose only. For instance, an old chenille bedspread can be a tablecloth too
- Carry lots of cash in small bills
- Accept items even if they’re damaged, but know the extent of damage you’re okay with. Some repairs are expensive
4. Ask for Hand Me Downs from Your Loved Ones
There’s no shame in asking your friends and loved ones to give you furniture that they don’t need anymore.
Put your pride aside and approach them. You probably got hand-me-down clothes when you were a kid. It was awkward walking around in someone else’s jeans but you did anyway, right?
And the best part is that it was temporary. Have that same mindset when asking for furniture from your loved ones.
They may be dear people to you but bear in mind that they don’t have to help you if they don’t want to. Win them over by humbling yourself. Practice hand-me-down etiquette like:
When offered something, even if it’s not what you hoped for, be grateful for it. Who knows? This might lead them to offer you, even more, when they didn’t intend to. Besides, they’re being of help to you. It’s only courtesy to thank them for it.
This might be tough to do, but hey, it’s either this or you’re stuck with something that you don’t need or want.
Of course, you don’t have to come right out bluntly and say that you don’t want it. Come up with a clever excuse like you don’t have room for that in your apartment or you have one like it already.
The deal with hand me downs is you never know what you’ll get. Instead of blindly taking what’s given to you, ask the giver what you should do with the stuff if they aren’t of use to you.
Some people may be alright with you getting rid of them while others may want you to give their goods back to them.
5. Try Craigslist
Established in early 1995 by Craig Newmark, Craigslist is a classified advertisements site with sections for discussion forums, items wanted, community service, housing, resumes among others.
The site has a variety of broad categories. Each category has several sub-categories, which makes it easy to arrive at your desired section quickly.
Craiglist offers users standard furniture at reasonable prices. When purchasing from it, you have to be ready for the unexpected, resourceful, and committed.
Additionally, don’t expect to get what you’re looking for fast. Furniture shopping on the site may be overwhelming if you’re new to it.
With the following tips, you can never go wrong when looking for furniture on the website:
Look at Items from People Living Close to You
This helps you save on time. It’s also an excellent way to save on green if you use public transport. Carrying items in cabs can make your trip back and forth more expensive depending on where the seller lives.
Search a Specific List of Items
Shopping without planning can cause you to buy something that you had no intention to buy. Prepare a list of furniture you’re looking for and keep off anything that you haven’t included in your list.
Let Someone Know Where You’re Going
You’re going to meet someone you don’t know. Text a friend the address of the place you’re heading to and ask them to hit you up later just to confirm that you’re safe.
Pay no Attention to Items Without Photos
It’s highly likely that they’re a scam by some twisted individual. Don’t give your money to the seller and better yet, don’t agree to meet up with them.
6. Visit Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are slowly taking the spotlight for a good reason. They offer nice pieces at unbelievable prices.
Though that’s the case, thrift store shopping can be fun or disastrous depending on your approach. People often buy items that look unique but in less than a month, a week maybe, they realize that they made a mistake.
Before heading to a thrift store, if you’re new to the skill, here’s a warning for you: It can be stressful and tiring. On the plus side, the rewards you get are worth the inconvenience.
Ready to try your hand at it? Follow these tips to the latter for a positively unforgettable spree:
It might be a while before you get what you’re looking for, so wear comfortable clothes and shoes to avoid wearing yourself out. Additionally, you’ll need free hands to dig around if the store doesn’t provide shopping carts, so try not to have anything in your hands.
Have a List With You
Having what you need in your mind may not be of much use. You can get distracted and forget what you wanted as soon as you enter the store. Having a list enables you to stick to your budget.
Carry Paper Cash
The worst mistake you can make is carrying money without consulting your budget. No amount of self-assurance can prevent you from spending more than what you’ve set aside. It’s also best to leave your debit or credit cards at home. They’re not accepted in any thrift store.
If you love the store you visit, strike a friendship with the staff. They can help you find what you want quickly and feed you with essential info like when new stuff will come in the store.
7. No to DIY
You may be thinking of DIYing your furniture since it appears to be a cheaper option, but before you give it a shot, let’s talk about it for a moment.
To make furniture, you need wood. That’s cash right there. What’s more, if you’re planning on painting your finished product, you’ll have to chuck some dough for paint. And let’s not give equipment like nails, a tape measure, and a hammer a cold shoulder.
Next, the DIY process is time-consuming. This is a negative if you’ve got a job and other commitments that demand your time.
Even if you have some old furniture lying around and you want to transform it into another piece of furniture, making a chair or stool may not be as easy as it appears on YouTube.
You might even hurt yourself during the building process because of handling equipment such as a saw, hammer or drill in the wrong way.
If you’ve never lifted heavy stuff you may want to rethink your decision. It gets even worse if you’re doing all the work alone. You’ll have to learn many squats and slopes. In an hour or less of working and lifting, your body might start complaining of the strain.
Finally, if you manage to make something and it collapses, you won’t get any compensation for any harm done to your home or yourself. All the effort your time and effort you put into the project will go down the drain.
8. Skip Name Brands
We’re all guilty of judging furniture and other items depending on whether or not they’re our preferred name brands.
If you furniture shop by considering name brands, you might not get what you’re looking for at the price you want.
Look around. It’ll surprise you that there are lots of furniture that may be made by a fancy name brand but are as good as name brand ones. Follow these tips and you’ll find quality and non-brand furnishings:
- For couches and other seats, go for firm cushions with a matching removable cover. Although they might be a little more expensive, they are firm and can last longer.
- Know the types of wood. Wood for furniture falls into three main groups: Composite wood or particleboard, solid wood, and veneers.
Composite wood is the cheapest but doesn’t last for long, solid wood is the best and most expensive but it’s prone to water rings and scratches, veneers have a cheaper core covered by several thin layers of better-quality wood.
- Shop at the right time. The best times to visit furniture stores are Veterans Day and Memorial Day. For even better deals, drop by on Christmas or the Fourth of July when stores offer amazing discounts to get rid of their inventory.
- Don’t shy away from negotiating. Salespeople are keen on making sales and may be willing to adjust prices a bit so you’re both comfortable.
- When it comes to the fabric and color of your furnishings, your lifestyle should guide you. If you’ve got pets and kids, stain-resistant strong fabrics like tweed and linen and those with dark colors are a great pick.
9. Shop Online
If you’ve never shopped for movables online, now’s the time to start doing it. Shopping at a retail store sounds easier, but you’ll be paying more than what you’d have paid online.
Retail stores need to pay overhead charges to pay their employees and cover the cost of their lease. To handle these expenses, they add a little extra cost to the price tags of their items.
When you shop online, the overhead charges are reduced. You can then pick up your furniture from a warehouse or it’ll be shipped to your home directly.
Online shopping has lots of benefits. First, you gain access to a variety of products. You can shop from retailers in other parts of the country, world or even state. The stock is always filled, so you’ll always find what you want.
During the holidays, mostly, retail stores are filled with customers. If you hate crowds, that’s a bummer. When shopping online, you don’t have to worry about crowds or battling for packing space.
There’s no pressure when you do your shopping online. Salespeople can’t use their skills to get you to buy stuff that you don’t need.
Some purchases are best made from the privacy of your home. Online shopping allows you to buy stuff like sexy lingerie and adult toys without worrying about anyone else knowing what you’re buying.
Finally, and most importantly, doing your shopping online is super convenient. You don’t have to dress up and leave your crib. Additionally, you can shop at whichever time of the day while enjoying the zero-pollution shopping experience.
10. Take Measurements of Your Apartment
Prior to buying appointments, measuring all the rooms in your apartment is a wise step. This enables you to avoid buying items that are either too big or small for your space.
Taking measurements is a drag I know but it’s crucial. To simplify the process, measure everything at a go and save the results in a safe place that you’ll remember later on easily.
Although there are measuring apps that you can use, manual measuring is better since apps may not always be accurate.
The first place that you should measure is your front door and other points of leaving or coming in. Imagine buying a cool sofa only to realize that it can’t fit through the door.
- Measure all the entries that your furniture has to go through to arrive at its final destination
- Note railings, light fixtures and other impediments that can make moving your furniture a headache
- Ensure you have accurate diagonal width, precise width and height measurements when you’re measuring
- Make a note of any corners that require to be turned in a staircase or hallway. Don’t forget to measure diagonally on the staircase as well.
Frugal Furnishing all the Way
Starting life on your own in an apartment is something you should look forward too, not fear. Making that decision to move out is an indicator that you’re ready for it.
Spend your cash wisely, if necessary, be persistent and most importantly, be the boss of your furnishing project.
Don’t listen to what others tell you too much because their words may bring you down and cause you to doubt yourself.
You’ve got all you need. What’s left is to apply it. Have a positive attitude and everything will fall into place.