Almost everyone has gone through a time when you realize you have too much stuff in your summer apartment to fit into a dorm room, or when you’re rushing to put things into storage while you find temporary housing for a few months. However, not many people talk about what can happen when the opposite occurs. How do you avoid going into major debt and a money pit when you have a large brand new house and very little furniture to fill it?
Loading up on credit card debt can get you in trouble fast, but do you really want an entire empty house bringing home the fact to guests that you only have one small apartment’s worth of stuff?
The good news is that there are several great ways to get high quality furniture way below the sticker shock prices new stores may give you. Your first step is to start looking at the following options:
Estate sales are a great place to find some inexpensive deals. Whether you’re looking for full furniture sets or just a few end pieces, you will often find older and more unique or antique options that have a look that’s just hard to find nowadays. Generally speaking, in my experience it’s easier to get a large storage trunk, an individual end table, or something in that vein as opposed to an entire matching room set as these tend to be bid up, but each auction is different and you never know what you might find.
Small Town Auction Houses
This might be one of the most overlooked opportunities. I lived in a town of only 3,000 people in Iowa, and was amazed how often decent living room sets went for as low as $40-50, or how often spare pieces of furniture that really were decent would be put out to be thrown away since they didn’t get any bids. Since most of the bidders were in their late 30’s to early 50’s they didn’t need new furniture – so a lot of good pieces went unclaimed or even out to the jump.
Many small town auction houses have listings every week or every other week and allow you to check out everything before the actual auction. This can be a chance to eye a few pieces, or even decide if this auction is worth your time or if it’s worth it to wait another couple of weeks.
College Move-out Day
Living near a large college town has its advantages. This is especially true if you keep track of the classic move out days before summer. While it seems inconceivable to those of us who scrimped and saved to make each semester, especially in larger towns there are often student housing where really nice things get thrown out because students are going home overseas for the summer or they’re just from upper class backgrounds and will get something new next fall.
In fact, I had a friend who rented several moving trucks every year when the University of Iowa started letting out and went along picking up what other people tossed, and then used that as inventory for his second hand store. I couldn’t believe how many nice things he had. If you live near a college town, it’s worth a weekend drive.
Use these sources and no matter how big your house, you’ll be able to load it up fast at a price that won’t bust your budget!