The Cutting Edge: Furnishing Your First Apartment

Simple steps to make the new move less costly

cut-cost-save-moneyFinally, you’re fresh out of college and ready to settle into your first apartment. Sure you’ve seen matchboxes bigger than your new place, but it’s your own humble abode. Now that the arduous task of coming up security deposits and rent is squared away, it’s time to figure out the best and most cost-effective way to furnish your new apartment with style.

“You want to make sure you’re shopping smartly,” says Tammy Kotula, promotions manager at Apartment.com, an online rental resource.

At Overstock.com, a retailer that sells surplus inventory from other retailers at discount prices, a full-size spring mattress starts at $200. Add a frame and a box spring, and the cost of a bed alone can get expensive. Once you include room lighting, seating, accessories, and a slew of other odds and ends, the total furnishing costs for one room can reach well over $1000.

Before you make the big move, check out these helpful tips for decorating an apartment on the cheap:

Ask friends or relatives for any household items they can donate. Who knows what they have buried in the basement or just sitting around possibly unwrapped. If you do manage to get your hands on slightly used goods, add a little flair to the item. “You can use slip covers for worn out couches and sofas,” Kotula says. A quick trip to the fabric store can turn a drab ottoman into a key living room piece.

Shop flea markets. Flea markets offer a bevy of precious goods for low prices. From dish washing liquid to kitchen sets, they are marketplaces turned treasure troves for the cost-conscious consumer. For more information on where to find flea markets, visit Keysfleamarket.com, a Web directory of flea markets nationwide.

Search online communities. Sites such Freecycle.org and Craigslist.org offer an array of low-cost or free items listed by users. “Craigslist is a great place to go if you’re looking to buy furniture in your neighborhood,” Kotula says. “But, you just have to be careful because there are strangers you’re buying from.” Inspect all items thoroughly before bringing them into your home.

Set price limits. Make a list of everything you need to purchase and how much you expect to spend on each item. If you need a couch and you can only afford $200, don’t put $225 as your maximum. Be patient, and you’ll find the deal you’re looking for. Use Websites such as Overstock.com and Amazon.com as a guide for how much each item should cost.

Prioritize. As you make your budget, list all items in order of what you really need and what items you can do without . Purchase necessities first, such as a bed, kitchen table, and a couch. Focus on adding smaller accent items after you’ve made your major buys.

Don’t rely on credit cards. Sure, they’re a quick fix when cash is tight, but mounting receipts and out of control interest rates can have you

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