A new renter's guide to buying furniture on a budget


Whether you’re a fledgling renter who has just left the family home and you need to furnish your new place or you want to give the furniture in your share house or flat a makeover, buying new can easily put a large dent in your savings. Buying new is an attractive option but it can also lead to a tempting downward spending spiral (bye bye house deposit!) when it isn’t always necessary.

As a renter it’s still possible to achieve a stylish homely look without blowing the budget completely.

Top 3 tips for saving money on furniture:

There are many means of saving money when furnishing a home and it doesn’t mean you have to settle for inferior furniture or items no better than the ones you wish to replace.

1. Ask around- More often than not family and friends will have furniture in their spare bedroom or storage collecting dust or someone will be looking to upgrade their dining or living room set. In these cases they might be happy just to give you their old furniture or maybe sell it to you at a discounted price or for a trade (you could offer to cook them dinner or clean their car etc.).

2. Look out for warehouse sales- If you want just one or two new designer items keep your eyes peeled for discount offers and sales at certain times of year for great savings. Big furniture stores often have warehouse and stock take sales a couple of times a year with up to 70 per cent off clearance, damaged, display stock and discontinued items.

3. Second-hand steals- If you can live without the latest designer stool or that new leather sofa smell and your budget is tight check out:

  • Charity stores, op shops, car boot sales, flea markets and garage sales.
  • Free footpath pickups come hard rubbish time.
  • Online marketplaces and buy, swap and sell groups.
  • Even the buy-back section of your local rubbish tip.
furniture yard sale.jpg

Things to consider-

Always buy the essentials first

The top priorities when furnishing a home for the first time is a comfy bed, so you can get a good night’s rest and kitchenware, so you can prepare your own meals (and save money not getting takeaway too often!). Buy a good quality sofa too, as you’ll want to sit back and relax to enjoy your new home, especially after a long day of unpacking and getting organised.

You also want to ensure you put your money in the right place. If you hardly ever watch television for example there’s no sense in splashing out on a flat screen state-of-the-art monster that takes up the whole wall. Better to buy something more fitting and functional in the space, like a cosy armchair for reading and a dining setting for entertaining. If you spend a lot of time on your computer or work from home, then an ergonomic chair and computer desk would be money well spent too.

Measure your rooms

Another thing to consider is how much space you have. Measure the space and entryway to the area carefully before hitting the shops. Trust us you don’t want to make the mistake of buying something you can’t even get up the stairs or through the front door.

Base your purchases on the length of time you intend staying in the rental. There’s really no sense in spending all your hard-earned dollars on furniture that is difficult to maneuver or so heavy and awkward it takes five men and a pulley to get it out the door and down the stairs. If you think you’ll be renting the place long-term then you’re probably safe to invest in larger pieces you want to keep for years to come.

The best time to buy

Try to hold off making any big purchases until the sales at the end of the financial year, on public holidays (Boxing Day, Easter etc.) and for big events are running. Don’t forget retailers mostly try to sell off old stock before the end of the season, so look out for spring and winter sales, almost every season has some type of sale.

shopping at ikea.jpg

Going second-hand

You’d be amazed at how often people visualise a piece of furniture or decor only to find that there’s one exactly like it in an op shop or on a second-hand furniture marketplace for a quarter of the price or less.

If you decide to buy second-hand furniture study it carefully in-person before buying for things that you may not be able to see in photographs. Check for insect infestations (we do have bedbugs in Australia that live in the tiny cracks in old wooden furniture), stains, scratches, unsightly wear and tear or irreparable damage.

Haggle for extra savings

Look for inexpensive accessories such as colourful cushions, beanbags and lamps to add some chic style to your rental. And remember, no matter what the price, always haggle, no matter how shy you are, the more you do it the better you get at it and make sure that what you get is the absolute bottom line. You can potentially save a lot of cash by driving a hard bargain.

While on that subject, haggle on delivery costs as well and don’t forget to include them and shipping costs in your initial budget. If you know someone with a van or ute who doesn’t mind helping out, that can save you a fair bit of money on delivery fees as well.

Pace yourself

You don’t need to fill the place with new furniture in one weekend. Not even if you’re a first-time renter. Your parents might have some old furniture to lend you for a while until you’ve saved enough to get exactly what you want.

So, buy essentials first, don’t rush to fill the house with furniture, shop around, and be aware that cheap (or free!) furniture doesn’t always mean a lack of quality.

Author bio:

Gabrielle Kupke has worked for Cosh Living since its inception some 9 years ago. Her role at Cosh Living includes looking after the Cosh social media channels and purchasing.

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