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Budgeting Tips When Furnishing an Apartment

Jan 05, 2021

A cozy living room set-up.

Welcome to the world of #adulting (Budgets! Responsibility! Bills! Rent!). For many of those just going out on their own into the world, that also means a new apartment exciting!

Now comes the fun part of furnishing it and finding your style. You’ve probably created dozens of Pinterest boards with different interior styles, layouts and decor ideas in anticipation of the moment you’d have your own place. And now that you finally do, here comes the not-so-fun part: figuring out how much it’s going to cost to do it all.

Living on a budget is not easy, especially when it comes to creating a cozy home and making it your own. But don’t let that damper your excitement. Here are some ideas that will help you both create a space you love and still have enough money for life’s essentials.

Start with the Bigger Basics

While it’s true that a space comes to life as you add decor, paintings, rugs, lighting fixtures, etc., you’ll first want to consider what essential items you will need. At the end of the day, it doesn’t make much sense to come home to a place that looks amazing, but you don’t have a bed and mattress to sleep in, a sofa to relax on, a TV to watch, a fridge for your food … you get the idea. Also, the bigger items are oftentimes the things you’ll hold onto the longest, so you should also consider them a wise investment.

At the same time, keep in mind that you may be living there a while, so you don’t have to get everything at once. Spruce your place up with your own style as you go and grow into it over time this allows you the ability to save up money as well. But when you are ready to shop, prioritize getting the “big stuff” first.

Make Sure It’s Useful (or Multi-Useful)

A big money-saving hack when purchasing furniture, especially if you live in a small apartment or studio: look for pieces that are functional. Better yet, get pieces that are multifunctional. Whether purposefully built that way or you use a little imagination, there are lots of ways to make furnishings do double-duty for you. Consider kitchen benches that double as storage or couches that convert into pull-out beds or futons as just a couple of examples.

While these items in and of themselves may not be significantly cheaper, they will reduce your cost of buying additional items like shelves, bookcases and air mattresses for guests.

Consider the Best Time of Year to Shop

You’ll begin to notice that there are better times during the year than others to purchase furniture, appliances and other larger home items. Many retailers normally debut new products, styles and inventory in April and October (to align with the seasons throughout the year). To make room for these new arrivals, out-of-season furniture typically becomes discounted a few months prior. Sales and offers will depend on the particular store of course, but this is a good rule of thumb when you’re ready to shop.

Keep in mind that “out of season” doesn’t mean outdated or no longer in style. It just means that if you are patient, you can find your perfect piece at a much better price than if you bought it when it first arrived at the store.

Keep It Simple

Sure, you want to have some fun and show your style savviness with unique conversation pieces, but you're probably going to have to spend more for those choices. Since they’re not commonly purchased items, there will be fewer of them in the marketplace which means retailers can (and will) give it a larger price tag.

When looking to spend wisely, you can’t go wrong with purchasing “anchor” furniture items in neutral shades (such as black, tan, brown or white). Then accessorize with throw pillows, blankets, curtains, wall art, etc. to add those pops of personality and color.

Again, you should think of sofas, beds and other larger furniture items as long-term investments. Ask yourself, “Will I really still like that leopard print couch five years from now?” If the answer could be “no”, then don't go for it. You’ll just end up having to spend more for a new couch down the line.

Try a Little DIY for Creative Cost-Cutting

Whether it’s a new project or repurposing what you have, using your creativity is an incredibly simple (and affordable) way to put your personal stamp on your space. Bring in old high school or college artwork for the walls. Get stencils to create patterns on tile. Put some string lights above your bed for a fun canopy.

But DIY doesn’t have to stop with decor. Load up your Pinterest board with all of the amazing storage and organizational ideas you’ll find that will maximize your space. As we said before, items that do double duty are the way to go. For example, make a keyholder or a coat rack from recycled wood and a few hooks for hanging on the wall, then paint your own inspirational quote. Not only can these pieces serve a purpose, but they can be as unique and interesting as you are.

Now, How to Pay for It? Consider a Lease

A lease-purchase agreement (otherwise known as lease-to-own),* like one with Acima, can be a great way to get those larger room sets, appliances, TVs or other larger home furnishings you need while staying within budget and not spending all of your money at once. This is especially true because a lease typically allows you to get what you need right away, but then make renewal payments on it over time that are designed to work with your particular budget. Then once you make the required number of lease renewal payments, you can own the product outright. You also have the option to purchase the merchandise early at a discount.

For anyone who’s just graduated and moving into their first apartment, just got a new job and can finally afford their own place, or just moved out of the parents’ house and struck out on their own, this alternative to financing (especially for furniture and appliances) can be truly life changing. What’s more, it’s available in national and local retailers around the country and quickly becoming a popular option for shoppers in all stages of life. So if you’ve never considered it before, now’s the time!

Get Smart with Your Style and Your Shopping

Now that you have some creative shopping and designing hacks for your new apartment life including how to buy complete living room sets, a TV, mattress, whatever you need on a budget there’s only one thing left to do: Start shopping! Better yet, shop for what you want, all without credit*. It’s as easy as finding a store that offers Acima. Happy furnishing!