Now that the excitement of landing your first apartment has finally died down, and you find yourself sitting in camp chairs watching movies on your laptop, perhaps it's time to consider furnishings. To make your apartment a home, you are going to need furniture and cookware at the least, and more than that if you want to live in comfort.
Stop using cardboard boxes as tables and eating with your hands. Use these four ideas to affordably make your place not only livable, but enjoyable to be in.
1. Grow Something
Houseplants are a great way to improve the look and feel of your home without spending a lot of money. This is especially true if you are willing to start with small ones and grow them over time. Frugal shoppers should be able to pick up a few pots, some potting soil and seeds for under $30.
Many young people try one houseplant, kill it, and then give up. Maybe you are hopeless with plants, but you've probably just picked the wrong ones. The right houseplant will survive almost anything, at least in the short term. Look for low-maintenance plants like rabbit's root ferns, snake plants, crotons, ponytail palms, aloe vera and peace lilies. Just remember, less is usually more when it comes to watering.
2. Budget for Furnishings
Presumably, you're using some sort of budget to manage your money. Don't forget to make a place in it for furnishings and home improvement expenses. Even an extra $50 or $100 a month can help you deck out your place the way you like it – especially if you are a smart shopper. Before you head to specialty furniture stores, try looking at local thrift shops. For the price of a new, flimsy particleboard piece of furniture you could find a slightly worn, sturdy, solid wood item that will last a lot longer. Thrift and consignment shopping take more time, but it pays off in the long run. You can always paint or update the hardware on solid wood furniture to suit your style.
3. Do it Yourself
Buy an adjustable wrench, a flat head and a Phillips screwdriver, a hammer and a pair of pliers. If you go to a thrift store or a used tool store, you may be able to get all of them for less than $10. With these tools, you can manage almost any project that pops up in your apartment.
Learning to fix little things yourself, even dismantling or assembling furniture, will help save you money. It will also allow you to customize your space. You can even get DIY home security kits and install them with your tools.
4. Time your street search
If you live in a college town, the end of semester can be a great time to scour the street corners for furnishings. College students leave the dorms and nearby apartments in a hurry, and sometimes can't (or won't) take their furniture with them. If you are looking for larger pieces of furniture, try to recruit a friend to help you haul it and be sure you have a large enough vehicle.