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Savvy Ways to Maximize Your Apartment Furnishing Budget


how to maximize furnishing an apartment on a budget- blog header

Trying to balance your budget for furnishing an apartment can be stressful. 

We’ve already detailed how much it costs to furnish an apartment.

Now, we’re here to walk you through how to maximize your apartment furniture budget!

(Including how and where to get the quality furnishings you need, all while saving money.) 

We’ll also cover the factors with the most influence on your furniture spending so you can be aware while shopping around!

If you’re on a tight budget for your apartment furniture, or if you have limited space, your money has to go pretty far for everything you buy. 

Here’s exactly how you can maximize your budget to furnish an apartment that you’ll love! 

Table of Contents

5 Ways to Maximize Your Apartment Budget, Get Furniture You Really Need, & Spend Less

1. Use What You Already Have

The biggest way to stay in control of your apartment furniture budget is to use what you—or family and friends—already have.

Items that you may already have (and don’t have to buy) usually include:

  • Towels/washcloths
  • Bedding/pillows
  • Laundry hamper
  • Clothing hangers

 

Items you can ask family/friends to give you for your new apartment might include:

  • Flatware 
  • Kitchen dish towels
  • Unwanted plates or glassware
  • Cookware, gadgets, pots & pans
  • Console tables (these can get pricey)
  • Dressers
  • Storage boxes
  • Shelves/Bookshelves
  • Small cooking appliances
  • Unwanted TVs in great condition

 

Furniture pieces you can get at thrift or consignment stores for under $1,000:

  • Tables
  • Bed Frames
  • Any seating without fabric or cushioning (to avoid insect pests)
  • Shelves & storage boxes
  • TV console/entertainment centers
  • Plates
  • Dressers
  • Planters for your patio or indoor plants
  • Home decorations
  • Wall art
  • Lamps

 

Apartment furnishings that you can buy brand new for well under $1,000:

  • Sofas/sectionals
  • Bath towels + washcloths
  • Bed linens + pillows
  • Mattresses (get on sale, especially the kind that doesn’t need a box spring)
  • Televisions (look for Black Friday deals or new open box items at Best Buy) 

2. Cap Your Apartment Furniture Budget

Once you’re sure you need to move, your next step is to start your budget planning process.

Essentially, give yourself a cap based on how much you’re willing to spend. 

For obvious reasons, this has to be centered around what you can afford.

$1,000? $3,000? $6,000? 

Whatever your budget cap is, make sure it’s within your reach after factoring in all related moving and rent expenses. 

3. Create a Comprehensive Budget For Every Piece

You need a budget to be able to maximize it in the first place, right?

So, here’s how to furnish your apartment using an actual budget:

  1. Make a list with 2 columns: what you need to buy vs. what you already have 
  2. Create a spreadsheet of options for everything under the ‘Need to Buy’ section and their prices by store 
  3. Find the total cost for purchasing at each store (a simple Google search can turn up items at nearby or online stores, or use our list!)
  4. Calculate how much you have saved vs. the cost of the items at each store

Now you know how much you need to save, AND the most affordable places to buy them!

How to Use the Apartment Essentials Budget Sheet

  1. Click the link below to open the Google Sheet.
  2. Simply go to File > Make a copy. This will automatically add the copy to your Google Drive.
  3. Or, you can download it as an Excel (.xlsx) file!
  4. After that, it’s yours to edit as needed. 

See?

It’s super easy to come up with a quick budget for your apartment furniture—no sweat.

4. Focus on Purchasing Essentials First

What good is a beautiful centerpiece or vase if you don’t have a table to sit and eat on?

Buy the essentials first, and your budget will go a much longer way (instead of buying everything at once.)

It’s a master exercise in patience to wait it out for the little knick-knacks and decorations that make your apartment cozy and personal. 

You’ll also be more likely to buy pieces you actually love on their own merit instead of succumbing to interior design trends. 

Remember, you can always get fancy later.

5. Shop Seasonally For Apartment Furniture

You can easily stay under budget if you know the best seasons to purchase your apartment furniture

Sales in the furniture industry mostly follow a seasonal, bi-annual schedule. 

So, to get the best deals on furnishings, try shopping during one of the following times:  

  • When retailers are getting rid of last season’s inventory prior to bringing in new furniture
  • When there is a holiday or special event sale coming (even if it’s a major competitor’s event, they’ll usually price-match pieces)

Here’s a guide to the best times of year to buy furniture:

Types of Furniture:

Best Times to Buy:

Indoor Furniture

January-February & July-August

Outdoor Furniture

Winter months (can vary by location)

Office Furniture

August-September (during back-to-school season)

Mattresses

3-day weekends & holiday weekends (e.g. Independence Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc.)

Televisions

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and in weeks leading up to Super Bowl Sunday

Electronics

July-August, November-December

Appliances & Kitchen gadgets

Late September-October, Black Friday, Cyber Monday 

General Furniture & Decor

Amazon Prime Day & Wayfair’s Way Day (competitors will usually price match)

Alternatively, you can always shop at thrift stores or garage sales, too! If you love a bargain, that may be a better option than buying brand-new items. 

Newer and pricier decor doesn’t necessarily equal top quality. 

So, buy furniture that piques your interest—not someone else’s.

6. Buy Pieces In Sets

When you’re looking at the smaller items you’ll need to buy for an apartment—like kitchen utensils, garbage cans, end tables, lamps, etc.—you’ll sometimes need more than one piece.

Even if you found a standalone lamp that you like, you’ll probably need two if they’re going in your living room. 

So, why not buy in pairs? 

The cost is almost always substantially lower than buying individually.

The same goes for cooking tools… 

Instead of buying each spatula, tong, and serving spoon separately, get a set that includes them all. 

You’ll inevitably need all of these items in your kitchen anyway, right? 

Not only will this help maximize your budget, but you’ll also save lots of time that’s normally spent shopping around.

Top 3 Factors in the Cost of Furnishing Your Apartment

Even if you have a set budget, your spending can easily get out of hand if you’re not careful. 

If you’re looking to furnish your apartment cheaply, familiarize yourself with the factors that will either increase or decrease your budget. 

For example, if your personal style is more glam or trendy than Scandinavian or minimalist, you may have a harder time staying under budget because certain décor tends to cost more.

(Think: Z Gallerie modern glam vs. IKEA functional minimalism.)

Conversely, if you’re spending only a few months to 1 year in your new apartment, or if you’re saving up for a house, you may not feel the need to invest in high-end or heavy, solid pieces which often cost more. 

How much it will cost to fully furnish your apartment depends on several factors

#1- Your Furniture Style Preferences

Some people prefer IKEA while others fawn over Z Gallerie or Pottery Barn. 

While each has its own merits, they’re clearly in different price ranges.

Your personal tastes will have a huge impact on how much you’re willing to save or stretch your apartment furniture budget…

But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to expand your furniture-buying options by:

  • Doing your research to catch a sale
  • Browsing furniture consignment shops, wholesalers (e.g. Sam’s, Costco), or outlets
  • Saving your online favorites to get alerts when they’re on sale using Shoptagr (now, Karma) or Honey
  • Finding gently-used options on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or neighborhood garage sales
  • Checking out Etsy, Overstock, or flash-sale sites like Gilt and Nordstrom Rack Home

Pro Tip: 

No matter what your favorite furniture style is, look for deals whenever possible!

Always sign up for the company’s texts/emails.

You’ll be alerted when there’s a sale, and you’ll typically get a first-time buyer discount. 

#2- Where You Purchase Apartment Furniture

Will you buy from a direct-to-consumer (DTC) company? Are they also designing your space? 

Despite the upfront sticker shock, DTC furniture brands will surely save you some cash in the long run. 

You can save thousands of dollars by skipping the retail middlemen and going straight to the source.

Just be aware that DTC brands may not always have flexible delivery options. If a design team is involved, you’ll also have to make time to communicate with them clearly about your needs. 

(But hey, it beats finding every piece by yourself through hours of internet research or weekend store trips!)

If you’re a busy workaholic or non-creative type who craves a chic-looking apartment, you’ll love having your furniture and interior design needs taken care of at the same time!

Our picks for top (DTC) furniture brands and furnishing design services:

  • Furnishr. Work with experts to fully design and furnish any apartment size.
  • Modsy. Starts from $159-$499/room, or $299 for multiple rooms.
  • Havenly. Starts at $129 for decorating from scratch + 0% APR financing via Affirm.
  • Article. Sells furniture, but also offers from-scratch interior design.
  • Burrow. Durable + luxury-focused. USA-made and affordable with plenty of unique patents pending.
  • Interior Define. Chic meets mid-century modern. They’ve got an Austin-based shop and a virtual room in Houston.
  • Inside Weather. Sustainably made-to-order with upcycled plastic by California artisans.
  • Maidenhome. Superb quality pieces by the world-renowned furniture craftsmen of North Carolina + lifetime cushion warranties.
  • Sabai. Cozy, sustainable seating with affordable repair pieces & a waste-busting trade-in program that sells refurbished pieces up to 30% off original pricing.
  • The Inside. Be your own designer and customize your fabrics on everything from sofas to peel & stick wallpaper.
  • Albany Park. What’s not to love about designer pieces in apartment-friendly boxes with easy assembly and a 30-day warranty?

Pros & Cons of Buying From Retail Furniture Shops

Conversely, if you choose a local furniture retail shop, you’ll probably have a lot more style options.

However, your pieces may not arrive all at once. 

And, of course, there’s the drawback of having to look for it all on your own, then pray that everything looks great together in your new place. 

Retailers may charge anywhere from $150-$300 for delivery, not including the markup of furniture itself. 

Assembly of your new furniture may or may not be included, so consult the store to be certain. 

#3- How Long You Plan To Live in Your Apartment

Moving into an apartment for the short term?

You probably won’t want to make a big investment in super high-end furniture and lots of decorations. 

In that case, your budget will probably be substantially lower than if you’re moving into a new apartment for your long-term dream job.

Consider renting furniture or possibly even choosing a fully furnished apartment. 

Heck, even an extended stay hotel can be cheaper if you’re moving for a temporary job and want to maximize your salary. 

You could pay thousands of dollars less in an extended-stay suite instead of paying for apartment rent, furniture, and utilities. 

Not only can you bypass purchasing furniture for an apartment, but there are plenty of other things you don’t have to worry about by living in a temporary stay hotel, like:

  • Paying for utilities, WiFi, & cable
  • Lugging your clothes to a communal laundromat
  • Cleaning up (in hotels that have a daily housekeeper)
  • Having a lease

It may be cheaper for you to choose a temporary or extended stay versus buying furniture for an entire apartment. 

Just note that this option is more financially worthwhile if you plan to live in a new apartment anywhere from one month to a year.  

Wrapping Up

Creating your apartment budget doesn’t have to be super time-consuming. 

Now that you have it done and understand all the factors that will affect your budget, you can get to the fun part—decorating! 

Was this budget sheet helpful? Let us know on social media!

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