How I Furnished My Entire House for $716.97

Photo (cc) by Dee Speed

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 GarageSales.com – 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 Collectors.org – 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 Overstock.com.

  • 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 Overstock.com. 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.

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