Millennial Money: Furnish Your New Place on a Budget | Ways of life

The moving season is almost over. But if you’re one of the many people currently settling into a new home, you may feel like furniture shopping season is just getting started. And it can be expensive.

After paying your rent, security deposit, or down payment on your mortgage—and all the expenses associated with moving—furniture can be an afterthought, leaving you with a less-than-ideal budget for items that will make your new home feel like home.

Even with lower prices on items from budget retailers like Amazon and Target, furnishing an entire space gets expensive. And if you want higher-end items, a premium couch or bedroom suite alone can cost several thousand dollars.

To save on furniture, try reaching out to community and peer-to-peer resale platforms to find quality pre-owned items and strategically space out your purchases.

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GET STARTED, SEE WHAT YOU CAN GET FOR FREE

Before you head into the maze of Ikea or down the rabbit hole of online shopping, check out what your local community has to offer. Ask people you know what they get rid of.

“Your friends and family can move in, too,” says Hena Noor, a full-time student at the University of California, Irvine. Noor recently moved into her first apartment with a furniture budget of less than $700 and received a free couch from her girlfriend’s parents. “It may be beneficial for them to get rid of the item without having to pay to move it or try to sell it before they leave.”

Don’t be afraid to talk to your neighbors or make a request on social media; the people in your life are likely excited to help you navigate this exciting life change. Many areas also have Buy Nothing Facebook groups that you can join to give and receive household items. However, you will likely need to find a way to transport the items, perhaps by renting or borrowing a truck, or enlisting the help of a friend.

TRY SIMPLE PLATFORMS

Peer-to-peer resale platforms like OfferUp, Letgo, and Facebook Marketplace feature thousands of used items. You may be able to find hidden gems within a 5 mile radius of your new location.

“In a store like Ikea, you have limited options,” says Miranda Escobar, a marketing manager for a New York-based tech startup who moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn in April. “The analog market exposes you to different, unexpected styles of furniture.”

Escobar chooses Facebook Marketplace, where she searches for a single keyword, such as “dresser,” and then refines the results by color, material, price and location. For example, she can look for wood items for less than $50 within 2 miles of her new address.

However, some locales have more listings than others and it can take a long time to sort through the results. Also, not all items are sold at cost; some sellers are more motivated to make a profit than to get rid of old stuff.

“It can take hours of digging to find the real steals,” Noor says. Noor checked OfferUp daily in the week leading up to her move, keeping an eye out for fresh listings from users who needed to get rid of things quickly.

If you shop at peer-to-peer markets, garage sales, or estate sales, take advantage of the opportunity to bargain. Note that the seller is often trying to get rid of the item, but also try to offer a price in a reasonable range – a low price may not get you a response.

“I always compare with similar items on the market,” says Escobar. If it’s a branded or vintage item, see how much it would cost to buy new or what other dealers are offering it for. Knowing the standard price of the item you want can help you negotiate with the seller more confidently and avoid listings with unreasonable prices.

“Of course you want your new place to feel like home right away,” says Escobar. “But it’s better to be patient and wait for pieces at the right prices that really fit the space.”

Waiting for lower-priority items can ensure that you’ll be ready to get the lowest-priced pieces from users who are facing backlogs; they are more likely to accept the best offer available.

Patience also comes in handy when shopping retail: Discount on off-season furniture in winter and summer to make room for new items that arrive in the spring and fall, and most stores offer significant discounts around holidays like Black Friday and Labor Day. At thrift stores, furniture inventory can change regularly, and waiting for a good deal on a used item can save you more than buying new.

If you need something immediately, such as a table, try to find an inexpensive placeholder to use for now, such as an inexpensive folding table. You can always upgrade later when you have the funds.

This column was provided to The Associated Press by personal finance website NerdWallet. Dalia Ramirez is a writer at NerdWallet. email: dramirez@nerdwallet.com.

NerdWallet: When is the Best Time to Buy Furniture? https://bit.ly/nerdwallet-best-time-to-buy-furniture

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, copied or distributed without permission.

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