The moment you sign the lease for your first apartment is a rite of passage into adulthood. Once you move out of your dorm or your parents’ basement and into your own space, you accept new responsibilities and freedoms that you’ve never had before.
But if you’re on a tight budget, an unfurnished apartment give you more stress than comfort. If you didn’t plan on splurging for brand new furniture, you wonder how to make your room feel like it belongs to you without breaking the bank.
When you want to decorate your own space-or at least have a place to sit down-without spending money you don’t have, read through our six tips.
1. Ask and Ye Shall Receive
Just because you’re moving towards financial independence doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go to your parents for help. If your parents have a storage unit or a particularly full garage, ask if they’ll let you take some extra furniture off their hands. Also ask them spread the word to other relatives or neighbors who have unwanted furnishings.
Though this technique won’t get you a free wide screen TV or the trendiest modern design, you’ll probably find enough furniture for your basic needs before you have to invest in a brand new dining set.
2. Reduce, Reuse, Freecycle
Websites like Freecycle and Craigslist have pages and pages of classified listings for free furniture. Simply put your location into the search bar, and then scroll through postings from people in your area who have unwanted items.
Accept the fact that most used items won’t be in glowing condition. However, you should look out for bed bugs, stains, or smells that could cause more harm than good to you and your living situation.
When you use Internet classified websites, you should also keep in mind that most sellers expect you to pick up the items and transport them to your home. For larger furnishings, like a bed, freezer, or sofa, rent a truck and enlist a couple friends to help you get these items through the doorway.
3. Stomp the Yard Sale Scene
During the weekends, people in your neighborhood often host garage sales to get rid of items they can’t afford to store. Make a habit of driving around town to see what different homes have to offer, and compare prices on high-quality items.
You might also find better prices if you check back later in the afternoon as the sale winds down. Once the crowds have gone home, owners might feel more inclined to haggle with you or give you a discounted price.
4. Don’t Be Above Dumpster Diving
When people get desperate, they throw out perfectly good chairs, end tables, and decor that you could use in your new apartment. If the thought of jumping into a dumpster filled with trash freaks you out, there are a few other ways to turn trash into treasures.
For those who live near college towns, check the dumpster area on move-out days at the end of each semester. University students feel so pressed to study, clean, and move back home that they toss valuables in near-perfect condition. You can also find cheap storage bins and small kitchen appliances that previous owners didn’t want to deal with.
5. Shop Around for Sales
When you feel rushed to find all matching furniture for your apartment in a single day, you don’t give yourself time to find the best deals or wait for prices to drop. Instead, make a list of your most essential items, and then check home dÃ©cor stores and online shops for varying prices.
If you manage to wait until a major holiday, most retail stores offer significant discounts. Also check for online coupons to reduce the price of a couch or a fridge by a significant percentage.
Obviously, you can’t wait three months to get a fridge, microwave, or pillows for your apartment. But when you slow down and focus on finding the best price, you can spend money on your most important items instead of splurging on everything.
6. Save Money on Shipping
Even if you think you’ve found a great deal for a cheap bedroom set online, check the shipping costs to determine the item’s final price. Regardless of where you find your cheap furnishings, you save a significant amount of cash when you opt to pick them up yourself instead of paying for shipping.
Many retailers offer to send items to the nearest storefront so you can pick them up at your leisure. But for oversized items to fit in your undersized apartment, you’ll want to contact a professional moving company.
Movers transport your appliances and furniture all in one trip, and they’ll make sure that they don’t damage or break any of your valuables.
Moving companies also provide specialized assistance to get your furniture into your apartment-despite narrow staircases and tricky doorways.
So the next time you move to an unfurnished apartment, remember these six tips. You’ll save money on necessities so you continue to become more financially independent and secure.