College/Apartment Furniture for Under $100? Sure!

Spending Plans don’t have to get torpedoed for apartment or dorm move-in day. There ARE inexpensive ways to purchase furniture perfect for dorms/apts/houses.

Avoid Furniture Sticker Shock

You’ve figured out how to pay for your child’s college, you’ve enrolled them, they have a roommate, and have even bought the sports ticket package. You are done, right? We all wish. Perhaps they (or you) are moving into an apartment after graduation.  Many students move directly to an apartment, or a house, or have a college that provides minimal furniture. Here are 4 ideas that just might save the financial day!

#1 Know Thy College Seniors

Rumor has it that kids do eventually graduate from college. At least that’s what I’m counting on! Guess what? There are college grads moving out in December, May, and August. Odds are pretty high that they don’t need nor want their current furniture. And what’s more? They don’t have an easy way to get rid of it. That’s where you come in. Get your incoming college kid to ask around. Have them offer to move the furniture for the grad…and sweetin’ the deal with a bit of cash. Many a senior mentally already thinking of getting their first job will be thrilled to have this furniture problem solved. What’s more, so will the grad parents. Those parents already have their hands full with grandma and grandpa at the overcrowded and under ticket available graduation ceremony. Don’t forget to ask about drapes and rugs, too. You can also e-mail college grad parents and mention what you are looking for as well. You just never know what might turn up.

One more thing, some colleges have a culture where moving out students just take their old furniture and put it in the front yard for anyone to come along and get it.

#2 Visit Flea Markets, Garage Sales, Thrift Stores, Consignment Stores

You know you’ve passed by these places many times. This time, go in…..with a mission. If you find something, make an offer. The worst they can say is no. Be willing to walk away if the price doesn’t make sense. Does it have more wear and tear than is normal? Offer them less than asking price. After you’ve bought your buried furniture treasure, it is easy to buy a bit of furniture spray paint and spruce up almost anything. Remember, we are talking dorm rooms, frat houses, apartments for college kids – not a house needing to look like Downton Abbey! This strategy worked for us: we found an armoire in a second-hand furniture store in her college town. It was missing one shelf. She could easily live without that one shelf and we got 20% knocked off the price and walked out with a great (used) armoire for under $150. Our approach to the owner? “There is a shelf missing here. Would you be willing to take $xx instead? “ Most of their items could be purchased under $100.

Be willing to walk away if you aren’t satisfied with the counter offer.

Some consignment stores drop prices on a regular basis. If you are eyeing a piece that is still out of financial range, let them know you are interested when the price reaches “x” and to call you. Some places even drop their prices on a pre-announced schedule. Consider taking the risk and come back at the next price drop.

#3 Websearch “Used Furniture in (insert name of college city)”

Before you strike out and work thru Craig’s List or anything from someone from the private sector (non-business), think of safety consequences. Take appropriate precautions. It is a great way to get inexpensive furniture though. Ask about the history of the piece before you drive to the seller’s location. Also, if the item is small enough, perhaps meeting them in a public location with them bringing the item with them makes sense.   We always bring a second person (someone burly!) with us.  

We were pleasantly surprised when searching google for “used furniture in xx”. Lots of names of places came up that we had never heard of.  

#4 Avoid College Furniture Freight Issues

Buy furniture in the college town if at all possible, but buy in non-peak season (not August/Sept) if you can. Transportation for furniture can easily wipe out any savings you make. In peak season you will compete with others doing this same shopping as you and negotiating bargains are harder to come by.  Plus, if you get the store to deliver, it might be several days before they can get it to you.  

A few last furniture buying tips:

  • Bring measurements of floor and wall space to store with you.  
  • Take pictures of these rooms you want to furnish with your smart phone.
  • Bring a tape measure with you.
  • Take pictures with your smart phone of items you are considering if you go several places before making your purchasing decision.
  • Thoroughly investigate each piece for drawers closing properly, all crucial parts accounted for, etc.
  • Sit in chairs, especially desk chairs to make sure they are the correct height to the desk you are going to use. 
  • We avoid second hand mattresses (at all costs) and fabric sofas/chairs unless you know the history of the piece. Air mattresses can be good substitute until you can get the real thing.
  • Carry a small notebook with you that lists what you are looking for, and any specific criteria.  This will save you being overwhelmed when you walk into the store - and avoiding buying something you can do without. 
  • Walk in with a max $ amount you are willing to spend.  Then stick to it.  

Is your child leaving the nest soon? Here are 8 lessons they will need to know.  (developed by parents previously in your shoes)

As JellyGeneration says:

You CAN Have Success in the Middle of It ALL
Happy Shopping

Have you faced buying furniture on the cheap for college? What worked for you?

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