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If you’re moving into your first apartment or buying a home, you’re probably excited about decorating your new place. You can make it your own with paint, furniture, and artwork — and you don’t have to worry about a roommate’s opinion. However, you might be in for serious sticker shock. According to ForRent.com, the average person spends $8,176 on apartment furniture.
If you have student loan debt and a tight budget, that number might be out of reach. But before you make do with milk crates and movie posters from your college dorm, check out these tips.
1. Get thrifty
Salvation Army, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and other thrift and consignment shops often sell high-quality items for cheap prices. If you’re willing to check out multiple locations, you can find fantastic deals.
When my husband and I moved into our new home, I bought a beautiful lift-top coffee table for just $45. A local furniture store was selling a similar piece for $350.
2. Look for freebies
I live about 10 miles away from a very wealthy neighborhood. People in the community launched a Facebook group for buying, selling, and giving away items. Through that group, I scored a free dining set in excellent condition. All I had to do was show up and move it myself, so I got it for the price of a tank of gas for my friend’s truck.
3. Shop online
If you’re willing to forgo testing out furniture and seeing it in person, you can find great pieces online. Plus, shopping online makes it easier to find furniture in exactly the right color and size.
For example, you can buy this Divano Roma couch — a well-reviewed sofa for small spaces — for just $259.99 on Amazon. Other sites to check out for furniture and household items include Overstock, Wayfair, and King Linen.
4. Use discounted gift cards
Using discounted gift cards can help you stretch your budget. You can purchase gift cards for department stores or furniture stores at significant discounts. For example, you could buy a gift card for Ashley Furniture at a 55% discount. That means you could spend just $45 and get a $100 gift card to use toward your purchases.
5. Give big-box stores a second glance
Buying new might sound like an expensive extravagance. However, you can score great deals if you’re careful.
My husband and I spend a lot of time watching movies and snuggling our dogs, so having a comfortable sofa is important to us. However, the cheapest one we could find in major furniture stores was about $1,000. Even on Craigslist and in secondhand shops, sofas were way out of our budget, so we decided to look at some big discount stores instead.
I’m a Big Lots fanatic, so I dragged my husband there one day. I found a gorgeous couch for just $300. But I waited until the friends and family sale, when I got 20% off, and used a discounted gift card to get an additional 7% off, bringing the cost to just $219. The sofa is comfortable and has held up under serious use, so I’m thrilled with the purchase.
If you pay attention to sales, you might be able to snag a great deal at Big Lots, Walmart, Target, or Ikea.
6. Check out estate sales
When people move, go through a divorce, or experience the death of loved one, they often have to sell their belongings quickly. One of the best ways to do so is through estate sales, which means they’re a great opportunity to furnish your home on a budget.
By scanning listings on EstateSales.net, I was able to get silverware, plates, pots and pans, and a serving tray for less than $50.
7. Consider a personal loan to fill the gap
Although going into debt is rarely a good idea, when it comes to your health and productivity, it can be worth it. If you’re out of cash and still need some essentials, it might make sense to apply for a personal loan.
I don’t mean you should take out a loan and blow the money on expensive artwork or an Xbox. But if you’re sleeping on an air mattress, taking out a small loan so you can buy a decent mattress and a basic bed frame is a small price to pay for a good night’s sleep (and no back pain). Similarly, if you need supplies to boost your income, such as a new computer so you can freelance, a personal loan can be a sound investment.
If you decide to go this route, borrow only what you need and make sure you can afford the payments. To qualify for a low-interest personal loan, ask a trusted friend or family member to cosign the loan with you. If your situation improves, make extra payments toward the loan to pay it off as quickly as possible and save money.
Getting the most for your money
If you’re planning to move, make sure you account for all the costs that come with it. If you need to borrow money to pay for the move or household essentials, compare offers from multiple personal loan lenders to ensure you get your best deal.
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