Home guide

When you buy your first home, odds are, you don’t have much in the way of furniture and decor, and you’ve probably just spent a lot of money to move into it. One of the worst things you can do is go all out, using your credit cards to buy it and racking up a lot of debt – it can cost $15,000 to $50,000 or more just to furnish the living room.

Of course, you also want to enjoy a comfortable place to live. These tips can help you furnish that home without spending an arm and a leg.

Start with Free Items

Odds are, your family, friends or co-workers will want to help you out. Provided that the pieces are in good condition or be easily restored, this can be a great place to start. Just be sure each piece has a room it will fit in or you could end up with a bunch of furniture you don’t really need. You can also get freebies from places like Craigslist and Freecycle. People often give away items for free and you can score some great furniture, especially from those who are moving and can’t take the pieces with them.

Search through listings daily – the key is to be consistent. You may not find what you’re looking for the first time, but if you keep checking back, odds are you will find just the right items. If you don’t find what you need for free, you may be able to score a great deal – don’t be afraid to negotiate.

Visit Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops

Head to places like Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity and other thrift stores as well as consignment shops. While it may take some time, if you’re willing to visit multiple locations you’re likely to find plenty of good deals.

Shop Online

If you don’t mind buying without actually seeing the items in person, places like Overstock, Amazon and Wayfair tend to sell items priced much lower than what you’d buy in a furniture or department store. Plus, shopping online makes it easier to find just what you’re looking for when it comes to size and color. Don’t forget to look for cheap giant rugs as they can tie a room together, setting the tone for an entire space at a very low cost.

Check Out Estate Sales

When people go through a divorce or a loved one dies, their belongings often need to be sold quickly, which is why estate sales are frequently held. They can be a very good way to furnish your first home on a tight budget. They’re typically advertised in the classifieds in local newspapers as well as on Craigslist, estatesales.com and estatesales.net.

While you’re likely to end up with multiple individual pieces rather than matched sets when you buy used, if you’re willing to put in a little extra effort, it’s possible to make those items look like they’re part of a matching set. Most of the time all that’s needed is a DIY tutorial and a few coats of paint.