For-sale sign

Millennium Money: Equip Your New Place on a Budget

Dalia Ramirez from Nerdwallet, Associated Press

Posted Tuesday, Sep 20 2022, 9:40AM EST

Last updated Tuesday, Sep 20, 2022 9:40AM EST

The transition season is almost over. But if you’re among the many people who are settling into a new home right now, you may feel like the season of furniture buying is just beginning. This can get expensive.

After paying rent, a security deposit, or a down payment on a mortgage—plus all the costs associated with moving—furniture can come as an afterthought, leaving a less-than-ideal budget for items that make your new place feel like home.

Even with low-cost items from budget retailers like Amazon and Target, furnishing an entire space can be costly. And if you want high-end items, a luxurious sofa or bedroom alone can cost you several thousand dollars.

To save on furniture, try turning to your community and peer-to-peer resale platforms to find high-quality used pieces, as well as space your purchases strategically.

First, see what you can get for free

Before you venture into the maze of Ikea or go down an online shopping pit, find out what your local community has to offer. Ask people you know if there’s anything to get rid of.

“Your friends and family may move, too,” says Hanna Noor, a full-time student at the University of California, Irvine. Noor recently moved into her first apartment with a furniture budget under $700 and got a free sofa from her friend’s parents. “It may benefit them to get rid of an item without having to pay to move it or try to sell it before they go.”

Don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbors or apply on social media; The people in your life are more likely to be happy to help you go through this exciting life change. Many neighborhoods also have “Buy Nothing” Facebook groups that you can join to give and receive household items. However, you will likely need to find a way to move the items, perhaps by renting or borrowing a truck, or getting a friend to help you.

Peer-to-peer platform experience

Peer-to-peer resale platforms like OfferUp, Letgo, and Facebook Marketplace feature thousands of used items. You may be able to find some hidden gems located within a 5 mile radius of your new place.

“There are limited options at a store like Ikea,” says Miranda Escobar, director of marketing for a New York City-based tech startup who moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn in April. “The peer market opens up different and unexpected furniture styles for you.”

Going to Escobar is the Facebook Marketplace, where you search for one keyword like “Dresser” and then filter the results by color, material, price, and location. For example, you might be looking for wood items under $50 within two miles of their new address.

However, some regions have more lists than others, and it can take a long time to sort the results. Not all items are on sale either; Some sellers are more motivated by making a profit than getting rid of old items.

“It can take hours of digging to find the real thefts,” Noor says. Noor checked OfferUp daily for a week prior to her move, and monitored new lists of users who needed to get rid of items quickly.

Hagar with respect

If you are shopping at peer-to-peer markets, garage sales or real estate sales, take the opportunity to haggle. Note that the seller often tries to get rid of the item, but also try to offer a price within a reasonable range – you may not get a low reaction.

“I always compare to similar items on the market,” Escobar says. If it’s a name brand or an antique piece, look up the cost of buying a new one or what other sellers are listing it for. Knowing the ballpark value of the item you want can help you negotiate more confidently with the seller and stay away from unreasonably priced listings.

Miscellaneous expenses

“Of course, you want to have your new place feel like you’re right at home,” says Escobar. “But it’s best to be patient and wait for pieces at the right prices that really fit the space.”

Waiting for low-priority items can ensure that you’re ready to stop cutting at very low prices from users facing deadlines; They are likely to get the best offer available.

Patience comes in handy when shopping retail, too: Out-of-season furniture is discounted in winter and summer to make room for new items arriving in spring and fall, and most stores offer deep discounts on holidays like Black Friday and Labor Day. In thrift stores, furniture inventory can change regularly, and waiting for the right deal on a used item may save you more than buying it new.

If you need something right away, like a table for example, try to find an inexpensive placeholder to use at the moment, like a low-cost folding table. You can always upgrade later when you have the funds.


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