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You don't want to sit on cardboard boxes all year. So get some furniture; make yourself at home.


So, what about furniture? Your choices will depend on the size of your budget. If you have enough money to buy a small, island nation, go ahead and buy brand-new furniture. (And while you're at it, buy some furniture for your friends. Otherwise, they may resent you.) Here are some places to start looking, along with your local furniture stores and department stores:

  • Living.com is packed with fabulous features, a marvelous magazine, and sensational strategies for decorating your house or apartment.
  • IKEA has a great selection for your everyday needs and the prices are reasonable. Check to see if there is an IKEA near where you live.

However, if you are like most of us, you'll probably want to furnish your house or apartment without spending too much money. If so, then try these ideas:

Second-Hand Furniture and Appliances
This is the most effective way to find affordable furniture and housewares. You can buy used furniture, dishes, and appliances from local thrift stores, or check your local newspaper, campus and apartment building message boards, and on-line listings for furniture and appliances for sale. Around colleges, someone is always moving or graduating, and most of these people will want to get rid of their excess stuff as quickly as possible. So you may be able to buy their appliances and furniture very cheaply.

Yard and Garage Sales
This a quaint American tradition. People with things to get rid of will hold "yard sales" or "garage sales" in front of their homes - often on Sundays. They will put cardboard signs up all over the neighborhood saying when and where the sale will be. Prices are usually quite low, and you can often enjoy negotiating for an even lower price with the seller. The atmosphere is generally casual, friendly, and relaxed.

Renting Furniture
In theory, renting allows you the convenience of low monthly payments. Delivery and set-up of the furniture and appliances is often done for you, for free. Renting appeals to students who only plan to stay for a short time, and don't want to worry about selling their furniture when they leave. If you are interested in renting, check out these sites:

  • IFRA is an association of furniture rental professionals. They list the locations of rental furniture shops around the country.
  • CORT Furniture Rental provides a full line of rentals for home or office. Previously rented furniture is also available for sale.
  • Aaron Rents gives you lots of choices for renting furniture, appliances, electronics, or computers.
  • For students who live in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa, Instant Furniture Rental provides several packages and collections that can make getting a full set of furniture easy.

Next: Tips for Decorating on a Budget

Decorating on a Budget
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