25 Tips for Buying Furniture on a Budget

By Stacey Leasca · June 04, 2021 · 7 minute read

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25 Tips for Buying Furniture on a Budget

Whether you’re updating your space or furnishing a new place from scratch, buying furniture can be a fun, but also stressful, shopping experience–especially if you’re working with a tight budget.

But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck buying pieces that scream “first apartment furniture.” With a little digging (and looking beyond traditional furniture stores), it’s possible to find stylish, good quality, and also affordable–sometimes even free– pieces.

These hacks can help you decorate your place–even if you’re furnishing an apartment on a college student’s budget.

How to Find Cheap Furniture

Scoring great furnishings on a tight budget takes some planning, and also knowing where to buy affordable furniture. Here are 25 ideas for creating a great space without spending a lot.

1. Taking Stock of What You Already Have

Before going out to buy new stuff, you may want to do a walk-through of your space and make a list of what you already have. You can label each item “keep,” “donate/sell” or “toss,” so you know exactly what you need.

2. Taking Stock of Mom’s Basement too

Do you have family members who may be harboring some perfectly good, but no-longer-needed furniture? Consider scoping out their basements, attics, and garages for some free treasures.

3. Making a Wishlist

It’s okay to dream a little. In fact, a good way to start furnishing a new home is to go to your favorite furniture store’s site and fill your cart without considering price. You can then cull down your list to essentials, and start looking for those pieces–or something similar–for a cheaper price tag.

4. Renting Furniture

If your furniture budget is super tight, you may want to consider renting furniture from a company like CORT or Feather , rather than buying everything you need. Renting can also be a good option if you’re only going to be in your current home for a short time.

5. Timing Your Purchases Right

Knowing when to make big purchases can help you get some steep furniture discounts. Furniture stores tend to get new inventory at the end of winter and end of summer. To make room for newer items, they will often run good sales in February and August.

6. Checking Out Freecycle

Cheap is great, but free can be even better. Consider going to a reuse/recycle site like Freecycle to see what people in your area may be looking to get rid of. You may want to keep in mind that good items often go fast.

7. Curbing Impulse Buys

Before you pull the trigger on a pricey new piece of furniture, you may want to press pause. By giving yourself a week or so to really consider the purchase, you may realize you don’t actually need it–or be able to scout out a cheaper, but equally good, option.

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8. Mixing High and Low

You can often get a high-end look by splurging on one or two classic investment pieces, and then going with cheaper, trendier accent pieces and accessories.

9. Putting the Word out on Social Media

You may want to use social media to let people in your network know that you are on the hunt for furniture. You can even specify what you’re looking for, and what you’re willing to offer (or barter) in return. You may be surprised at the response you get.

10. Selling Stuff You Don’t Need

To bolster your furniture budget, you may want to sell pieces that no longer work for your space. If you have a lot to get rid of, you might host a yard sale. For just a few items, you can list them on a resale site like Craigslist, OfferUp, or Facebook Marketplace and see how much you can score.

11. Doing a Furniture Image Search

If you see a piece you love, but doesn’t fit your budget, you can download a photo of the item and then go to Google Images. If you click on the “Search By Image” button (the camera icon) and upload the photo, you can search for similar items.

12. Searching Craigslist

Craigslist may be an oldie, but it’s still a goodie when it comes to finding affordable furniture. You can head to the site (which hasn’t changed much over the years), click the furniture tab, and search the possibilities.

13. Thinking Beyond Furniture Stores

Mass market retailers like Target, Walmart, and Home Depot actually have large furniture departments. You may be able to find stylish pieces at good prices, along with free delivery.

14. Searching Amazon Warehouse

Amazon Warehouse is a corner of Amazon’s main site that is dedicated to selling used, pre-owned and open box products. You can click on the furniture tab and either search for your needs or just see what’s on offer.

15. Hitting the Yard Sales

You can spend a Saturday or Sunday morning driving around town looking for treasures. Or, you can check out yard sales listings online, then map out a route that hits the yards or stoops with the most potential.

16. Asking About the Floor Model

If there’s a piece in a store you absolutely love, but it’s a bit out of budget, you can always ask the manager if they will sell you the floor model for a discount.

17. Combing Flea Markets

It can take a little time and effort, but you can often find great, affordable treasures at flea markets. Sometimes a little DIY is all it takes to transform something past its prime into the perfect thing for your place.

18. Browsing Antique Stores

In the winter months, you can often get the flea market experience by combing through antique stores or, even better, antique malls that have multiple booths housed indoors.

19. Checking Online Resale Marketplaces

Sites like Craigslist, OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace (where you may have listed items to sell) can also be a great resource for finding what you need. You can even do a search for a specific item you saw in store to see if anyone is off-loading that same piece.

20. Thrifting Furniture

Large thrift store chains like Goodwill and Salvation Army typically get lots of donated items every day and can be a great place to find your next book shelf or coffee table. Local thrift shops can be worth checking out too.

21. Checking out Salvage Stores

One of the most widely known salvage stores, Habitat ReStore , has locations throughout the country and often sells new and used furnishings, as well as appliances, for far less than retail.

22. Going Cheap on Art and Accessories

Once you’ve made your big item purchases, it’s time to think small (and cheap) with accent pillows, throws, artwork, and other decorative accessories. These items don’t need to cost a lot to add serious personal style to a space.

23. Stopping by Estate Sales

You can often find beautiful, high quality pieces of furniture, as well as artwork, at estate sales for a fraction of what you’d pay at a store. You can find estate sale listings in your area on Craigslist as well as Estatesale.com and Estatesales.net .

24. Haggling Over the Price

No matter where you are shopping for furniture, it can be worth trying to haggle the price down a bit. You can ask a seller if the listed price is as low as they can go, if they will offer a discount for buying multiple items, or if there is any wiggle room on the delivery fee.

25. Checking In With Neighbors

You can use Nextdoor to let neighbors know what you are looking for, and also scroll through the site’s “For Sale and Free” listings to see what your neighbors are selling or giving away.

The Takeaway

Furnishing a new place can be daunting, especially if you’re shopping with a limited budget.

But by thinking beyond traditional furniture stores, and turning to alternatives like flea markets, resale and salvage shops, estate sales, and online marketplaces, you can often score chic and cheap pieces that won’t fall apart in a year or two.

You can also stretch your furniture budget by mixing higher-end investment pieces with cheaper accent decor.

Don’t have much put aside for furnishing your space? One good way to start saving up is to open a SoFi Checking and Savings® account.

With SoFi Checking and Savings’s special “vaults” feature, you can separate your spending from your savings while earning interest on all your money.

Start saving up for the furniture you want with SoFi Checking and Savings.

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