Buying Second Hand Furniture to Start a Home

Furnishing a new apartment or house with a limited budget can be overwhelming. Here are some suggestions for beginning a home debt-free with second hand furniture.

Moved to a new city for your first job? Found a great apartment to share with friends off campus? Alone with no furniture and starting over again? Many people of all ages find themselves in transition due to school, work, divorce, or death. Here are some suggestions for buying second-hand furniture to begin a comfortable home.

Step 1: Maximize your resources

Many people go to a store and buy furniture and home decorating items new. Yet second furniture is already out there, produced and waiting to be used. Why not give it a new life, recycle it into your home? Here are a few suggestions for maximizing your resources to keep in budget and find unique pieces that department stores might never carry.

Step 2: Distinguish wants from needs

What do you have that works? What do you need to survive? Bed, table, couch, microwave? Learn to live with a little, and purchase furniture that fits into your budget. Remember, you have the rest of your life to create your home. It does not have to happen right away with a flourish of the Visa card.

Step 3: Don’t be afraid to ask

Asking for help is difficult for everyone, but many people are glad to help if you have a concrete need. Need a friend’s pickup to save on a delivery fee? Struggling to secure a shelf? Tell everyone around you that you are furnishing your place and see what suggestions or help may come your way quite unexpectedly.

Ask family, friends, co-workers, or various groups in your life if they have furniture at home collecting dust. Often, people are happy to give away or sell furniture at a bargain when they know the buyer. You will never know if you don’t ask.

Step 4: Explore Second-Hand Resources

Consignment stores such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army offer second-hand furnishings and other recycled household items. Check the yellow pages or Internet for other second-hand stores in your area. Call the place ahead of time to see what furniture they have, as some carry only smaller items. In some larger cities, consignment stores may be in lower-income parts of town, so go during daylight and take a buddy.

The Internet can also be a source of second hand furniture. Gumtree offers ads by city. You can browse ads or place one yourself for a specific item.

Step 5: Dumpster Diving can be your friend.

No, not just college students pick up items from the curb. The transitional nature of modern life means that many people throw away perfectly good household items as part of a move. Some large apartment complexes have couches, bookshelves and other potential furniture gems sitting by the dumpster that look as though someone placed them there by mistake. As long as they are clean, useful, and attractive, these second-hand pieces are true bargain-free furniture.

Step 6: Be Highly selective.

Before purchasing or hauling home any item, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I need this?
  • Can I afford this?
  • Is this what I want?
  • How does this make my place a home?

The last question invites you to consider how the item changes your empty space into somewhere that you want to relax and enjoy your life.

Making an empty space a home does not happen overnight. Be patient, think outside the corporate consumer box, and over time, your space will become a home both you and your budget, can afford.