Whether you’re currently moving or simply need a new nightstand, it’s uncool to drop hundreds and hundreds of dollars on furniture.
- Only buy online when there are product guarantees and returns.
- Nothing’s worse than investing in great furniture only to have it ruined by burst pipes. Make sure to nab good renter’s insurance, which is really cheap compared to the benefits you gain. (If your apartment is destroyed, the insurance will replace your belongings and pay for you to stay in a hotel.)
Here are the top five ways to get what you need and make your house beautiful, without breaking the bank:
1. Time Your Shopping
Like fashion, furniture has its seasons. Office furniture (desks, bookshelves) tend to be cheaper in January, while October is the best time for dining room furniture. Patio furniture usually goes on sale at the end of the summer. Bedroom furniture is a perennial need, so it doesn’t have a predictable sales pattern…but mattresses and box springs tend go on sale in May and again in the fall. Also, keep in mind regular holidays such as Independence Day, Labor Day, and Memorial Day, when department stores have major sales.
2. Buy Furniture Slowly
Even if you’re still young, items like bed frames and coffee tables can easily follow you for over a decade. Furniture represents one of the biggest costs of moving: We’re talking about mattresses, bed frames, TVs, desks, chairs, artwork, lamps…you get the idea. Beds alone can cost almost $1,000. So, treat these purchases as big investments, buy slowly, and make sure that these are objects you’ll be grateful for ten years down the road.
3. Nab It on the Cheap
Meanwhile, if you just need something quickly and on the cheap (or if you’re furnishing a sublet or dorm room), IKEA is the place to go. The pieces there are sleek and cheap, which makes them easy to replace every couple years. Our favorites include this simple bamboo nightstand for only $15 and this easy, modern shelf unit for $40. Shipping rates can range from as low as $19 to $299, so if there’s a store near you, go in and pick up the items yourself.
4. Get It Used (or Get It Free)
Scour Craigslist under the “Furniture” section to find cheap (and often free) furniture. A lot of the items we’ve found on the ’list are pretty legit because many people just want someone to come pick it up from their homes when they’re moving. We nabbed a full bookshelf for $35, and got a king-sized bed frame for $80. Here’s our short guide to buying on Craigslist:
- Be discriminating before trekking out to someone’s house: Ask how old the pieces are, whether the current owners have pets, whether they’re smokers, and where the furniture has been stored (you don’t want to pay full price for a table that’s been stored outside, exposed to the elements, for the past six months).
- Do not take used mattresses, and be careful with anything that has upholstery!
- Time yourself: Know exactly what you want and be patient so that you find the perfect item at a great price—but then, when you see something that’s right, email the seller immediately, lest you lose out!
- If you trek out to see an item, be ready to walk out with it. Most sellers want to get rid of their items stat. So, if you drive out to look at someone’s bed frame, don’t expect him to wait another week while you think about it.
- Arrange payment type before you meet the seller; exact change in cash is usually best, since these are people like you who probably feel nervous accepting checks (and definitely don’t take plastic!).
- Negotiate the price…if the listing is old. If it’s a newer listing, just be glad to get the item while it’s still available.
5. Be Creative: Make Your Old Furniture New Again
Sometimes, you just need to refurbish a little. You never know: Maybe all your old coffee table needs is a little bit of paint to make it look fresh again. Or, maybe you don’t need a new couch – you just need to reupholster your current one.