Whether you’re renting an apartment yourself or renting one out as a landlord or for AirBnB, there’s one thing that’s inevitable: furnishing the apartment. Though minimalism is in vogue, having furniture is still a necessity. At a minimum, you need a bed, a table, some chairs, and lighting. And, that’s just the basics. In order to keep costs on the more affordable side, here’s how to furnish your rental on a budget.

1. Ask around

Before spending a penny on furniture, first ask around. Your friends and family may have furniture they’re looking to part with and give to a good home. I visited a friend in the summer and she told me how nearly all of her furniture was from friends and family who were looking to downsize. I was amazed at how little my friend spent. Put out a call on social media for the things you’re looking for and you may very well turn up with some free goods.

2. Buy used

There are some furniture items like tables and chairs and other types of items that are perfectly acceptable to buy used. Why spend full price when there are plenty of items in good condition looking for a good home.

You can try the retail route and go to a Goodwill or Salvation Army. I’ve gotten nearly all of my appliances from Goodwill.

Another option is looking online. You can look at Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or try the app OfferUp.

I’ve had success buying and selling on OfferUp both when I was moving and when I was trying to furnish my new apartment. The key to buying used is checking for quality, sturdiness, and condition.

3. Look for discounts and sales

When you need to buy something, it’s a great time to consider what discounts and sales you can get onlineFor example, is Black Friday coming up? Is there a President’s Day sale or Memorial Day sale on the horizon? Retailers often use holidays as sales tactics, and while that can be annoying sometimes, it can work in your favor if you need to go shopping. If you know a holiday is coming up, sign up for your favorite retailers’ newsletters, as they might post greater discounts there.

4. Comparison shop

When you fall in love with a piece of furniture, it’s easy to think that you’re done looking and press the buy button. But, comparison shopping even just for a few minutes could save you money. Not all retailers charge the same price for the exact same items. Some retailers offer very similar items for a fraction of the cost.

Spending just 10-15 minutes on comparison shopping can help you rest assured you’re getting the best deal. It’s a horrible feeling to figure out that you overpaid for something after the fact. Doing a little work ahead of time can help.

5. Know your must-haves

It’s easy to get carried away trying to furnish an apartment. You want all the things and it’s your time to shine. But that’s a great way to overspend. First, make a list of your must-haves. These can include a bed, dining table, and chairs, for example. When shopping, you want to start with your must-haves.

If there’s some budget leftover, you can look into things that you want, but aren’t must-haves. This can include a great piece of art, or a cocktail cart, or some other type of furnishing that isn’t a necessity.

6. Shop in waves

You can make furnishing your apartment more affordable by shopping in waves. You might think you have to buy everything all at once, but that’s not true. As noted above, start shopping for your must-haves first.

Then the next month you can focus on things that aren’t must-have but would make your life easier. Then in the final phase, you can have things that aren’t a necessity and are purely wants and nice additions. Breaking up your shopping in chunks could help you with cash flow and budgeting.

7. Get free shipping and discount codes

If you’re ordering furniture and household items online, shipping costs can add up fast. Before shopping online, check for free shipping and discount codes. Check out our discount codes on Coupon Chief first to see if you can get some money off your purchase and shipping.

8. Get crafty

If you find an affordable or free piece of furniture and you like it but don’t love it, there are some things you can do. You can paint it or reupholster it. I have a friend who got a bunch of free (nice!) stuff that was left on the side of the street. She spray painted it and it was good as new. No one knew her furniture was used! Sometimes pieces just need a little love and decoration to make them fit your needs.

9. Have a budget in mind

Try to have a budget in mind before you go shopping. Going shopping and then trying to figure out how much to spend can lead to overspending and have the potential to be a disaster. When you’re shopping, it’s easy to get swayed and want to buy all the pretty things. You can justify why you want it and why it will be perfect. But if you have a budget in mind ahead of time, you can create a clearer action plan for furnishing your apartment. Also, remember, just because you can’t buy it now doesn’t mean you can’t buy it later.

10. Use a cash-back credit card

Furnishing an apartment can mean spending more than you normally do. So, why not get some cash back from those purchases? If you have good credit and pay back your balances in full, a cash-back credit card can be a good payment option in this situation. That way, you get a return on your purchases and can effectively save money. But this option is only good if you pay off the card and stay out of debt.

Final word

If you’re looking to furnish your apartment from scratch, there are ways to save money. Furnishing an apartment isn’t exactly cheap, but using these ten tips can help you minimize your costs and financial stress.

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