7 Tips For Getting Used Furniture Cheap

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Unless you are heading back to the dorm this fall, you’ll be looking for an apartment instead. Perhaps alone, most likely with a roommate, and in a place large enough for you to house all of your stuff. If you’re lucky, it will come furnished. Then again, an unfurnished place allows you to lay out your abode as you see fit, with no worries that the landlord will be angry with you if you damage his furniture.

That means an unfurnished apartment needs furniture. And that can get expensive. Unless, of course, you go the used furniture route, investing a few hundred dollars in a couch, bed, chair and other needed furnishings. Can you say, risky?

For you, the most cost effective approach should be some sort of happy middle ground, a place between the trappings found at your local Ethan Allen furniture store and the Salvation Army center. I’m not knocking either choice but the former is the place where you’ll shop after you’re established in your career, while the latter is where you go when you are desperate. You’re not in either place right now.

So let’s take a look at your options, exploring seven tips for finding quality used furniture for less:

1. Make a plan. Exactly what do you need for your apartment? You may want lots of stuff, but at some point you will move on and then what will you do with your furniture? Tip: Buy a bed, a chest of drawers and something to sit on, preferably a couch. Beyond that, you’re talking some serious money and a lot more stuff to move or throw out later. Let your roommate spring for a chair, television and stand, etc.

2. Check the classifieds. Craigslist is the easiet place to go when it comes to finding furniture, updated frequently and offering you everything you could possibly need. Yes, save money shopping online and you may have enough left over to buy that floor lamp.

3. Visit furniture liquidators. Used furniture is just that. Used. For some people it is a new bed or nothing else. That can get expensive, but if you want something comfortable for sleeping that can also double as a couch, then a futon is what you want. Metal framed futons are much cheaper than wood frames; both offer something important: a clean, cootie-free mattress!

4. Fix it up. Scratches and dents on furniture mean one thing: you’ll get those items for less, usually a lot less. That means carefully examining drawers, taking a look at fabric and testing a couch for comfort. Small stuff you can live with, but larger repairs may mean paying a furniture guy to fix it. Invest your savings in repairs to extend the life of a sofa or to make good use out of much needed bedroom furniture.

5. Clean it up. The couch is dusty but otherwise in excellent shape. The owner is embarrassed and is willing to sell you that piece for $25, something that could easily fetch $200 or more if it was clean. So take the couch home, stop by your local home improvement store, rent a carpet/furniture cleaning machine and clean the couch yourself. Between the rental fee and using the right chemicals your cost should be about $25 which means you paid $50 for a like-new couch.

6. Get it delivered. If you don’t have the right car or truck to haul furniture, have it delivered to your apartment. Better yet, check around campus to find someone who has the right vehicle and would be happy to help you out in exchange for pizza and drinks plus gas money.

7. Take your time. If you find yourself a bed, but little else, then consider that a victory. You absolutely NEED something to sleep on. The rest can wait especially if your choices are thin. Set aside the remaining budgeted amount to get what you want and not what you have to settle for. Remember: this is your college furniture—it should be comfortable, but it can’t become an expense that will quickly bust your budget.

Still can’t find what you want? Ask your parents and other relatives if they have something they can let you have. Bartering works well too: offer to cut someone’s lawn or paint their garage in exchange for some good, used furniture.

Photo Credit: Sarah Barth

Adv. — Have you exhausted your financial options for college? Let Sallie Mae help! A Smart Option Student Loan could be just the right choice for you.

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