How to Furnish Your Place on a Tight Budget

Need to move on and get a place of your own? Or maybe you just want to set up house without breaking a meager budget. Furnishing your place on a tight budget is not only possible but it's also a very creative exercise that can set you in good stead for mindful purchasing for years to come.


  1. Image titled Furnish Your Place on a Tight Budget Step 1
    Begin by making three lists.
    • List the things you already have.
    • List the things you absolutely need, such as a place to sleep and some way to cook food.
    • Make a wish list. Go crazy here: for example, "I want a large white dresser in French rococo style."
  2. Image titled Furnish Your Place on a Tight Budget Step 2
    See how far items on the first list can cover for items on the second two lists. This will immediately reduce some of your costs if existing things can do double acts, such as a bed with a bland cover and the right pillows along the back can be a couch, and so forth.
    • Throw rugs can become curtains, and bedspreads turned into drapes.
    • Paint on old pieces of furniture can make them seem new again, as well as suggesting new possibilities for ways of reusing them.
    • Throw slip covers over any chair and suddenly the chair becomes respectable again.
  3. Image titled Furnish Your Place on a Tight Budget Step 3
    Start searching. Don't try to buy everything at once. If you snatch the first stick of furniture you find, you pay more than if you wait and look for bargains. When you buy or find any items, think beyond their immediate appearance. You can always paint or alter them. Paint a hideous ecru dresser white and add rococo touches.
  4. Image titled Furnish Your Place on a Tight Budget Step 4
    Consider free furniture. Look on Yahoo Groups for Freecycle. Find one that serves a place near you, for example, Michigan Freecycle. Freecycle is a group that uses email to hook up people who want to give or get something for free. You can also look at Freecycle's official website at
    • Look on If you open your local Craigslist under "for sale" you can find a subcategory "free." This is a great place to find freebies.
    • Ask your family and friends for furniture that they don't need anymore.
    • Get on Facebook and Twitter and let people know you're willing to take their old stuff off their hands for free. Be specific about what you need and let them know it's for a good cause!
    • Don't neglect the chance of trading or bartering your skills in return for furniture and appliances.
  5. Image titled Furnish Your Place on a Tight Budget Step 5
    Go curb shopping. Look for things left on the curb for pick up. Again, with these three entries, think of the long term. College kids leave stuff at the end of a school year, and other people may throw out perfectly good furniture when they buy new furniture.
    • Designated trash days can be a great time to pick up much needed furniture.
    • Visit recycling depots at municipal landfills. Many of these places keep furniture, appliances and other household items that are still in good condition and sell them for very low prices.
  6. Image titled Furnish Your Place on a Tight Budget Step 6
    Look for discounted furniture. If you don't succeed with Freecycle, Craigslist or your Facebook friends, then you could look at Craigslist in the "for sale" category or visit discounts stores.
    • Go the resale route. Look at thrift stores such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army.
    • Visit secondhand furniture stores in your area.
    • Don't neglect normal furniture showrooms. Ask them about their floor stock, damaged stock, and sales items. Ask for deep discounts!
    • There are also unfinished furniture stores with inexpensive unpainted and unvarnished items.


  • Getting rid of things is just as important as getting things. A chair breaks, or you suddenly find yourself with three useless toasters. Recycle stuff you can't use, or let another person have a chance to fix it. Hoarding is dangerous and keeps you from having real furnishings.
  • See if there are any garage sales in your neighborhood. You might fine something nice for a good price.
  • Be flexible. If you want bookshelves, you might use wooden boxes, or milk crates, or bricks and boards. I have even seen books neatly stacked in color-coordinated pyramids, with no further structure needed.
  • Use your gifts in your quest. Do you know how to sew or weave? You can make sheets into fitted cloths or rugs. Can you saw or solder? You will be able to use more of what you find. You can always learn one of these skills from courses.
  • If you live in the UK and are on benefits, the Job Centre will give you vouchers you can use in certain shops for furniture.

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Categories: Budget Decorating