Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Grad School Secrets: Furniture on a budget

As a perpetual student I've moved across the country and around the world several times.  This results in having to find the basics again and again and, as always, with practice you start to get pretty good at it.  Here are some of the thing's I've done to save money.

  • Almost everything I own was bought off of craigslist.
  • Reuse lists.  Many communities have these in place if you know where to look.  This is usually a list where people can post items they don't need and are giving away for free.  People on the list can then step forward and claim those items.  I've gotten my coffee table, side table, night side table, lamps, dresser off of various reuse lists in my area.
  • Picking things up off the curb.  Often times these items will be posted to the free section on craigslist or reuse lists.  Other times you stumble upon them by walking down the street.  I have two wooden chairs in my apartment that I've collected this way.
  • Friends and family moving.  My eating table, throw rug, bed and second night side table were collected in this fashion.  After college I moved across the country to start my graduate degree in a city a good friend was just leaving.  I borrowed several items from him (bed, lamp, bike) while he was abroad for a year and when he moved back (at the same time that I was moving to France) he collected his things.  Free storage for him and free furniture for me.  Networking can really pay off in situations like these.  There are ALWAYS people moving to and from your area and that can mean stumbling upon good deals and situations.  Just being open about your situation and things you are looking for will make these deals appear.
  • Police Auctions.  Places like sell tons of items and are definitely a good place to look.  I've used this site to find my bike.
  • Being able to be patient and wait until a good opportunity arrives.  For example, I slept on an air mattress for 9 months because I knew I was going to have to move across the country and because I didn't have the cash to buy one.  Yes, my back complained, but not having the cost of interest weighing over my head from putting a mattress on my credit card was totally worth it.

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