4 Frugal Ways to Furnish a New Home
Buying your first house is a wonderful experience. Most of us immediately begin personalizing with paint and new furnishings. These personal touches are important, but they can bring stress when bought with credit.
When my wife and I bought our house, we had little money left over and a lot of space to fill. We agreed that it didn’t make sense to borrow money for furniture, paint, or decorations.
So we dedicated cash each month for furniture and my wife agreed that we could delay painting for a year.
How we stretched small amounts of cash for nice furniture
First, we kept a lot of our old stuff. We decided it made more sense to keep old dressers, shelves, and storage bins so we could focus our purchases on the places where we spend the most time: the dining room, living room, and office.
Second, we kept our eyes open for yardsales. We didn’t go out of our way to visit yardsales, but when we passed one we drove by slowly, looking for promising furniture. We scored a solid maple hutch, dining table, and matching wood chairs for $250. The hutch alone might have cost upwards of $2,500 if we had bought it new.
Third, we bought new stuff that was “good enough” for now. For a couple of months, we used a folding table and folding chairs for our dining room. I used a matching folding table in the office even longer.
We bought the tables and chairs (on sale) to buy us time—the time to find quality bargains that would serve us well for years. The temporary tables and chairs were not a waste. They will also be useful when we host parties for friends and family.
Fourth, we set up automated Craigslist searches. Craigslist is a powerful, free site for buying and selling almost anything locally. Quality furniture, even real antiques, are often sold for pennies on the dollar. You can even find expensive, almost new stuff if you live near an affluent neighborhood.
Craigslist turned up two local bargins. The first lady lived in a beautiful, beach-side log cabin she had built years ago with her husband. She sold us three solid maple pieces manufactured in America half a century ago.
We got a writing desk, large coffee table, and a night stand for $75! The second seller had an attractive computer desk with a solid maple top for $60. The desk fit perfectly into our office layout.
Four tips for Craigslist
- Setup an automated search with your rss reader (bottom right corner of the search results page)
- Search locally, you don’t want to be tempted by items you cannot reach (the top of the search results page)
- Line up transportation before you find a bargain because most sellers won’t be willing to deliver
- Don’t worry if someone beats you to an item, there will be more bargains