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Home Decorating Ideas: How to Furnish Your New Place for Less

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Ah, purchasing a new place to live.

Nothing better.


The arrival fallacy sets in when you realize that after jumping the hurdle of purchasing that big expense, you’re then faced with furnishing it.

That’s a whole other monster, especially if the space is completely different from your last place and nothing seems to work right.

If you’re itching to get the place furnished with little money or looking for a manageable way to save up, there’s hope.

Your Decorating Budget Dilemma (and How to Fix it)

Many people think it’s hard to furnish a home without spending mucho dinero. Whether you’re looking to add a little something new or completely fill up a room, you can decorate on a budget and still have cash left over.

Here’s exactly what I do when I save up for a new item:

  1. Get a ballpark number of how much an item costs. Even if it’s a range.

  2. Determine how long it will take you to save up that amount. For example, if you have your heart set on a new table that costs $500, determine how much you can put away per week and figure out how long it will take you. If you can manage to put away $100 per week, then you can purchase the table in 5 weeks.

  1. Set a goal to save for that item in writing.

  2. Make sure you put the money in a place where you won’t be tempted to touch it. Open up a separate savings account, shove it in an envelope or whatever works best for you and your habits.

  3. I also make sure to take a picture of the space I’m looking to decorate. This way I have a visual with me when I’m out shopping. I did this recently when I was brainstorming living room ideas and trying to figure out what to put in certain spaces.

If you’re patient and save for each item, you can get great home furnishing for a fraction of the cost. Go about decorating it with the same intense focus you had when you saved up for the down payment to land your new space.

This way you don’t have to play finance police with your significant other or yourself.

If you’re patience is waning and you really need items to put on the wall, consider using maps. Nate Berkus did a whole segment on this when he had his show. Here’s the video.


Another option for the walls is to get free posters. You can use old calendars or new, inexpensive ones with artwork on them from the dollar store. There’s also a site that will show you how to get free vintage posters.


This video will show you exactly what to do. (You should watch it now before you forget.)


I also checked in with others people who either write about the topic from time to time or have had experience in dealing with this. There tips are listed below.

Decorating the house doesn’t have to happen all at once. Teresa Mears, writer at Living on the Cheap believes it’s best to go slowly. Mears explains, “I don’t think anyone should buy furniture any way BUT little by little because you need to live in a place for awhile to see what you really need.” She also adds that if you choose to go the IKEA route, purchasing an electric screwdriver for the assembly is a must.

Mears shares her knowledge on the subject and  shows the best way to buy and sell furniture on Craigslist. You can also check out garage and estate sales. She recommends keeping your eyes peeled for store closeouts and good deals at outlet stores.

If you feel funny about buying certain items second hand like soft goods, Kate Horrell, the Military Finance Coach, also votes for outlet stores as a better option.  Horrell explains, “I get odd pieces or ones with damage I can live with”. You have to gauge your comfort level. Horrell adds that all her wood furniture came from thrift stores and she’s just fine with that.

Doug Nordman of the Military Guide, is also a big fan of Craigslist,  Goodwill and even University campuses — every spring.

Kelly Whalen of TheCentsibleLife.com suggests talking to family and friends who are downsizing or in the middle of moving. Sometimes people need to offload items and find it easier to give to people they know. Whalen explains how she scored lamps, prints, a comforter, silverware, wine glasses, and more for nothing!

The Bottom Line

Take the time to save and purchase wanted items for your place. If you consider second hand options, you can find items for a fraction of the cost. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to furnish your home for less — or even for free.

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