How I Furnished My Entire House for $716.97

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I'm too cheap to buy new furniture, and too style-conscious for an egg-crate coffee table. So I found an affordable middle ground.

A few years ago, I moved to another state carrying only what I could fit in my car: a few boxes of clothes, a stack of books, and a coffee mug. Since moving is expensive – even when you don’t actually move anything – I had to find a way to furnish my entire house without draining what was left of my meager savings.

I started shopping furniture websites and realized I’d have to spend $4,473.73 to get just the basics. That wasn’t happening, so I took an alternate path through garage sales, flea markets, and clearance racks – and I saved a ton of money. Here’s how.

The living room…

1. Couch and matching chair

I got lucky with my living room furniture. My friend offered to give me his old but decent couch-and-chair set for free.  I was off to a good start.

  • Rooms to Go: $879.98
  • Donation: Free!
  • Total savings: $879.98

What I learned: For some reason, it’s not embarrassing to ask friends and family if they have furnishings they no longer need – maybe because they tend to stash the stuff in a garage or spare bedroom, since throwing it away or even donating it to charity is such a hassle.

2. Coffee table and end table

After weeks of searching with no luck, my good fortune was starting to fizzle. But then I found a near-perfect coffee table and matching end table at a garage sale.

  • Havertys: $399.99
  • Garage sale: $26
  • Total savings: $373.99

What I learned: Websites that host garage sale ads – like Yard Sale Search and – are an easy way to find local sales in your neighborhood. But don’t forgo looking for them yourself. I found the best ones by driving around looking for “garage sale” signs.

3. TV stand

For something that just holds up a TV, media stands are overpriced in my opinion.  But I found one for next to nothing at a flea market.

  • Rooms to Go: $299.99
  • Flea market: $45
  • Total savings: $254.99

What I learned: Flea markets can be hard to find on your own, but a few websites – like FleaPortal and – maintain a database of different indoor and outdoor flea markets across the country.

The bedroom…

4. Mattress and box springs

A queen-size mattress and box springs don’t come cheap, but I still found a good deal at Sam’s Club.

  • Mattress Firm: $578
  • Sam’s Club: $394.99
  • Total savings: $183.01

What I learned: My local Sam’s Club had a few mattresses in stock, but I found a better deal by going to the Sam’s Club website. The website had at least double the stock and some pretty good prices.

5. Bed frame, headboard, and footboard

Originally, I had my heart set on a modern bed from Pier One, but I found a nearly identical piece for less than half the price at

  • Pier One: $489.90
  • Overstock: $170.99
  • Total savings:  $318.91

What I learned: By signing up for Omail before you shop, you can save even more on I received a 15-percent-off coupon within a few days of signing up for the email list – and I was able to use it on my first purchase.

6. Nightstand

I stumbled across a nightstand on clearance at Wal-Mart. I was hesitant to buy furniture and socks from the same place, but the piece has held up well and looks great.

  • Pier One: $199.95
  • Wal-Mart: $24.99
  • Total savings: $174.96

What I learned: The beginning of the school year (around the end of September) is the best time to look for clearance deals on furniture and home decor at mega-stores like Wal-Mart or Target. Why? Because those stores stock a ton of accent furniture and home decor items to sell with their dorm collections. Since they don’t keep the dorm-room sections open year-round, the leftovers get put on clearance after school starts.

The kitchen…

7. Table and four chairs

I scored a dining room table and four chairs on the last day of a garage sale. I haggled a bit and got the price down from $100 to $50.

  • Rooms to Go: $799.99
  • Garage sale: $50
  • Total savings: $749.99

The office…

8. Desk and chair

At first I wanted a huge wood desk and matching chair – until I saw the cost. Instead, I found a desk and chair set on Freecycle. They’re not exactly what I wanted, but you can’t beat free.

  • Havertys: $649.98
  • Freecycle: Free
  • Total savings: $649.98

What I learned: I had heard of Freecyle but hadn’t used it before. Then I read Freecycle: Is Free Stuff Worth the Fuss? and gave it a shot. Works as promised.

9. Bookshelf

When I mentioned that I liked the bookshelf that the flea market was using to hold smaller items, the cashier offered to sell it to me for $5.

  • Pier One: $149.95
  • Flea Market: $5
  • Total savings: $144.95

Bottom line: It took some legwork – and a lot of early-morning garage-sale hunting – but I ended up only spending $716.97 for an entire house full of furniture. Considering what I was planning on spending, I saved $3,730.76 (or enough money to pay my rent for four months.) Knowing how much I saved, I’ll probably never buy from a furniture store again.

But if you already have a lot of great pieces that you need to move, check out 7 Tips to Save at Least $1,000 on Your Next Move.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


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