So you've finally found a place to live, but now it's time to furnish your new pad and let's face it -- furniture is expensive. While you could sit on the floor for the rest of the year while you save, when you search for budget furnishings you can start enjoying your home sooner. Often the eclectic nature of the furnishings purchased on a budget is a truer reflection of you than those purchased full price from home decor centers.
Make a trip to your local thrift store. Thrift stores such as Goodwill are often the first places people think of when they need to get rid of a piece of furniture in a hurry (see Resources). People don't just donate old things, either; you can often find dining room sets, end tables, lamps and desks in good shape for very low prices. Since some thrift store chains keep their furniture in a local warehouse location, you should call a store to ask where to go to find the biggest selection possible.
Make your rounds at garage sales. People still put on good, old-fashioned garage sales as a convenient way of making money and moving things out from the comfort of their homes. In addition to finding garage sales by signs posted around neighborhoods, you might also have luck with garage sale postings on Internet community message boards or in your local newspaper. Be sure to get to garage sales as soon as they open to nab furniture items, as they are typically the first items to go.
Look for deals online. People listing single pieces of furniture often use online community message boards to post a description and photo of the item at hand. Once you find a piece of furniture that interests you, you contact the seller directly for directions so that you can see the piece in person. For safety's sake, you should never go to a private home alone. Other online resources, such as auction sites, are excellent sources for finding deals on new and used furnishings. Even better are local online swap groups, where people offer things they no longer need and you may request items that you do need.
Ask furniture stores about floor samples. Some pieces of furniture, like couches and beds, are worth spending money on if you absolutely love them because they will last for years and because you'll use them so much. If you fall for a pricey piece of furniture, ask the store manager about purchasing a floor sample. Most stores turn over their furniture at least once a year -- usually during the summertime -- and the floor samples are offered at a highly discounted rate.
Joy Uyeno has been writing about travel, food, fashion, culture and finance since 2005. For three years she wrote a column for the "Honolulu Star-Bulletin" aimed at young and first-time travelers. Her writing has appeared in several local and national publications, including the 2008 anthology "Honolulu Stories." She holds a Master of Arts in writing and publishing from Emerson College.