How To Buy Furniture On a Budget

Moving can be wildly expensive, from having to rent a moving truck to the down payments and upfront costs of staking out a new space. When one of our Facebook group members asked about cutting costs on furniture and decorations, though, our group came through with incredible ideas. Here’s what they had to say.

Finding Secondhand Homewares

Jaz: “A lot of people give away stuff for free or cheap on the app LetGo. I got a free brand new mattress, a couch, and a bunch of other stuff.”

Emma: “Depending on where you're living, (I'm just speaking from my experience in NYC) I think Craigslist can be a place to find really good finds. You want to be careful obviously and not go buy stuff alone but the thing is, in this city people are moving all the time and so it's often really nice stuff that they just can't take with them. I sold my one-year-old, basically brand-new IKEA couch for $75 when I was moving, for example, and a lot of people bailed on me--as a result, if you follow up you can get some really good deals.”

Tessa: “See if you can find a Habitat for Humanity Restore near you! They have tons of house stuff and all the money goes to Habitat for Humanity.”

Allison: “Creep the Facebook marketplace for furniture!! Often times people just want the stuff gone and they let it go free or cheap.”

Jenna: “For furniture, I'm not ashamed to admit that my husband and I troll the neighborhood the night before trash day and have gotten kitchen chairs, an amazing midcentury coffee table, outdoor furniture, and a few other things. Sometimes it needs some TLC, but just as often it's in decent shape!”

Sophia: “Try going to local flea markets/garage sales, especially since that season is starting up! I used IKEA and Target for essentials like a couch, but if you have a little time and patience to DIY, you can get amazing deals and infuse some character into your space. My nightstand was $20 at a garage sale and I just painted it and added some cute knobs from Anthropologie. I don't know where you're based or if you have a car, but my favorite flea market is the Elephant's Trunk in Connecticut!”

Rachel: “Thrifting is super hit or miss, but I recommend waiting it out on anything you can and going repeatedly to your favorite thrift stores. I waited on getting a dresser when I moved in, just keeping my stuff in boxes for a bit, and after a couple tries I found a great one. I was thrilled to not have to buy a new one, and it was worth the wait!”

Jemma: “Wealthy-ish neighborhoods on trash day. They'll throw out perfectly good IKEA furniture, or sometimes the better stuff. You'll have to buy the basics to get started but I would hold off on buying the little things, like side tables, bookcases, shoe racks, accent chairs, etc. Those are always getting chucked out.”

Kristina: “Look in your local buy nothing group!”

Lauren: “I don’t know if other cities have this (I live in baltimore) but I am in like a neighborhood "yard sale" Facebook group that is pretty big and there are always people posting furniture (usually when they are moving) for cheap or free. I got a cute bench there for $10 and my friend got a table from Anthropologie for $20. I would see if there is something like that where you live!”

Ali: “If they are not too far away, I have gotten lucky with relatives who want to get rid of old furniture (some just had dressers or night stands in their garages or basements that were collecting dust). I furnished a lot of my apartment with furniture like this!”

Roni: “I found pretty much everything on Facebook marketplace! And it’s really good stuff, too!”

Rachel: “My roommate and I have gotten great things on Craigslist including a pottery barn couch that was still on their website for $1,300 for $50 just because the previous owners didn't feel like it matched their living room enough. We ended up spending another $100.00 to get it professionally cleaned but still so much cheaper than other options. I've also gotten a bar cart, huge dresser, and desk from Craigslist all in great condition and $100 or under. I also second what Jemma said as well - I see furniture left out on the street in nice neighborhoods all the time.”

Lily: “I got basically all my apartment furniture for under like $75 using craigslist & the 5 miles app. As long as you're okay with bartering and picking up your own stuff, you can get a lot of stuff for basically free (downside is that it is more of a time commitment than just like going to ikea)”

Cleaning and Caring For Your New Space

Alison: “You can get a lot of name brand cleaning supplies at the dollar store.”

Jaclyn: “Brandless has cleaning supplies and kitchenware for $3 each.”

Becca: “You don't need a specialty cleaning product for everything. Look for things that are multipurpose, like white vinegar and dawn dish soap. Check out minimalist cleaning lists. I've recently started using Mrs Meyers soaps and love them!”

Emily: “Not sure where you're based, but we get a lot of our cleaning supplies from Big Lots. I've never bought furniture from them, but they carry it too. You can also find a surprising amount of good cleaning supplies at the dollar store.”

Shopping For New Items

Bri: “I purchased my rugs at when they had a Black Friday sale and free shipping (even on heavy items). I also got a few small items from Bed, Bath, and Beyond online and in store after dorm shopping season was over and everything was heavily reduced. I think your best bet is to acquire a few things at a time so that you can wait around for good deals.”

Kara: “I got a lot of my furniture for my apt at kohls with kohls cash! You gotta spend a bit at first but it accumulates quickly and there is always a sale going on.”

Laura: “I had really good luck finding a couple things at a local Macy’s furniture outlet. I got a headboard, bed frame and box spring for like $200. I’ve filled in the rest of my apartment with Ikea and Target. Also for rugs, I had really good luck at I bought two of their lowest priced rugs and have loved them, but my mom swears by Wayfair.”

Kristina: “Ikea is the obvious answer for me. Some items are better quality the others but it's worth checking out. I also was able to get some decently priced stuff (like kitchen items, rugs) at Old Time Pottery. Home Goods is also great but hit or miss.”

Alicia: “I got an amazing couch at IKEA that pulls into a bed and has storage inside.”

Amanda: “When you travel, pick things up that you like. I have rugs and linens, mugs and plates, cutting boards and vases from my travels to slowly furnish and decorate my non-existent apartment.”

Jenna: “For rugs, check out They are always running some crazy sale on area rugs.”

Clarissa: “Sale sections at target can be great!!! I got super cheap bedding that was originally really expensive as well as lamps and other smaller items in the kitchen area. Just take your sweet time walking through those sections and keep your eye out for the deals.

"As far as online shopping goes I think Wayfair has good value. My first two orders from Overstock were damaged so I can't really recommend them.”

Aysha: “It can also be worth it to check out off-price dept stores like Marshalls, Ross, TJ Maxx and Burlington Coat Factory. Especially for bedding! I've also picked up some kitchen stuff from there.”

Some Important Reminders

Diane: “I know this wasn’t your question, but I’ve been burned and always feel the need to warn new renters. When you move in, make sure to take pictures of every inch of the apartment and note down existing issue (broken blinds, nail holes in wall etc). Do this again right before you move out. Even if your landlord says they are keeping track of this, you want your own records and proof. We had a landlord that we were very friendly with and so we were really relaxed about this and then got burned big time after we moved out.”

Kunbi: “Also do not feel pressure to buy everything at once! Start with essentials - a bed and a night stand, maybe then a couch etc. save up and buy more slowly. Don’t furnish your apartment on debt/wipe out your savings on furniture."

What are your tips? Comment below or join the Facebook group here.