Used furniture: really cheap or even free

When I started writing about where peoples’ money goes, I identified rent or mortgage, car payments, and food (including groceries and eating out) as the three big expenses which gobble up most of the paycheck each month.  It didn’t even occur to me at that time that some people spend alot of money on furniture because I’ve never really spent much money on furniture.  I have looked at new furniture over the years, though, and realized that it can be very expensive.

This weekend, my wife said, “I need you to come with me to load the new dresser.”  My response was “What new dresser?”  She went on to explain that she had found a dresser on a community trading post type page on Facebook.  An older gentlemen was downsizing to a smaller house and was giving away various pieces of furniture that he now longer needed.  My wife graciously offered to help him in his efforts to make his possessions fit into the new, smaller house – and also she wanted a “new” dresser.

This has happened to me many times over the last twenty years.  I usually complain that we don’t need whatever it is that she is picking up, then go and get it anyway.  What I don’t complain about, though, is that we have spent next to nothing on furniture for twenty years.  Almost every piece of furniture in our house was acquired used.  Much of it was given to her.  Some pieces were acquired at yard sales.  We do buy new mattresses and I would not recommend used mattresses to anyone.  Occasionally, she will find some unique piece at an antique shop.  Those purchases usually turn into a weekend (or longer) project to refinish something to make a nice piece of furniture out of it.

Here is the bottom line.  You can spend a ton of money buying new furniture or you can pay attention to all the sources of used furniture and save a small furniture while still nicely furnishing your house, though it does require patience.  Here are some sources of cheap or free furniture:

Yard sales.  It is spring now, the time for yard sales to start in earnest.  If you regularly check out yard sales in your area, you are sure to find plenty of furniture.  People frequently are more concerned about just getting rid of something than making much money.

Online.  There are numerous sources online.  Craigslist is a great place to start.  They have a category for free stuff and many people post items for sale at practically give-away prices.  You can also look for community bulletin board type sites for your local area.

Family.  Many people have family members who like to buy new furniture to replace perfectly good items.  Then they want to get rid of their old, but still really good, items.

Consignment shops.  Prices can vary widely, but if you spend some time looking you can find good deals.  This may require some refinishing, but you will end up with beautiful furniture that will have special significance because you have invested yourself in it.

Thrift stores.  Much like consignment shops, you can find plenty of overpriced pieces, but you will also find great deals.  In thrift stores, such as Goodwill, in more upscale areas you can frequently find really high quality pieces cheap.

If you keep your eyes open, you can find plenty of other sources too.  I’ve even taken a few pieces out of dumpsters and refinished them to produce good furniture.

So there you have it – you can spend a huge chunk of your paycheck and run up debt for furniture or you can find for practically nothing.  Now leave a comment.  Are you a frugal furniture collector?  What are you favorite finds?

This post is linked to Your Green Resource.  Check out the great blogs linked there.

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