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4 Frugal Ways to Furnish a New Home

Aaron Stroud‘s story is a slice of the Grand Life Adventure, family style. He went from being “a carefree college student” to instant fatherhood with a ready-made family — and all that entails. What this man doesn’t know about a thrifty home life… well, I’m naming him an official Domestik Dad. Read on for Aaron’s first guest post. ~Jen

4 Frugal Ways to Furnish a New Home

Aaron Stroud

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

  1. Setup an automated search with your rss reader (bottom right corner of the search results page)
  2. Search locally, you don’t want to be tempted by items you cannot reach (the top of the search results page)
  3. Line up transportation before you find a bargain because most sellers won’t be willing to deliver
  4. Don’t worry if someone beats you to an item, there will be more bargains

Aaron shares reliable, easily followed steps to build wealth at On Financial Success. Subscribe to his feed to follow along.

Technorati Tags: frugal, home decor, guest post

2 comments… add one
  • Aaron Stroud 2008/01/14, 1:06 am

    Thanks for the comment Guilherme. “Using random bargains and used furniture” is also a good idea because it’s difficult to predict how you’ll live in your new home. We lived in our house for six months before we realized most of our bedroom space was wasted storing junk. So we moved the bed into the attached office and the office into the bedroom. Now my “new” office is twice as big as before and we still have plenty of space in the new bedroom.

  • Guilherme Zühlke O'Connor 2007/12/23, 3:52 pm

    Great post. I always believed that is much more interesting to keep the eyes open for nice opportunities for architecture than trying to master a whole project from scratch, and I mean that not only looking at the financial aspect but also the creative one.

    Once upon a time, before I made my escape to Web design and became a computer geek, I studied architecture (although I never worked as an architect, my computer geekness caught me first) and we were trained to believe that as an architect, you should be the master of your creation (that might be a reason why I never was an architect in the first place).

    Time showed me that is completely wrong, you can’t be master of your creation, because the creating process is too complex, and many random factors interfere. No one can proudly say they did something from scratch, as Carl Sagan would say, you’d need to create the Universe first.

    I think using random bargains and used furniture is an excellent opportunity to use your creativity, sometimes more than an empty canvas, and, as you properly said, it can be quite cheaper.

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