Now that I Have A Place Of My Very Own (yes that was absolutely necessary), I have discovered I’m missing some household essentials. The stuff I didn’t have ran the gamut from kitchen utensils to furniture to cleaning supplies.
Is it possible to have a place of your own without an ice cream scoop and pizza pan? Absolutely. Do I want to live somewhere that doesn’t have a pizza pan or ice cream scoop? Absolutely not.
Throughout this whole process, I’ve kept exhaustive notes on where I’ve sourced things to save myself hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. I’ve compiled my notes so you, too, can save hundreds of dollars!
Estate sales are like garage sales, but different in a few aspects. People who are downsizing, moving overseas, or family members of a loved one that’s passed away hire a company to come to their house and sell everything they can. They’re usually held Thursday or Friday through Sunday. The first day of the sale is the best time to find the good stuff, but everything is full price. The last day of the sale is when you get the best deals as the company switches from “get as much as we can” mode to “just get rid of it all” mode.
You can get some really good deals at estate sales, but you can also easily pay a lot for someone’s secondhand stuff. I like estate sales as you find stuff you actually need and can use. I also find it interesting to look at the stuff that makes up a family’s life. I’m a bit voyeuristic that way.
Garage sales are cheaper, but it’s mostly stuff people don’t need any more, so it’s a bit of a crapshoot (hah!) between junk and useful. Estate sales are great for household goods like kitchen utensils, linens, and tools. People usually need those, so they don’t usually sell them at garage sales.
At estate sales in the area, I have found the following for my new place:
-set of four drinking glasses
‑shower curtain (I had to buy the liner and hooks elsewhere)
‑half-used cleaning supplies
‑kitchen utensils (knives, wooden spoons, etc)
*note: the cleaning supplies I did need, but that was more about reducing waste than actual need
I think we all know how thrift stores work, so I’m not going to get into a detailed description. People donate things they don’t need anymore to the store in the hopes they can sell it and make some money. Donations happen when people Kon-Mari their houses, move, have leftover garage sale stuff, or upgrade to nicer stuff. I like going to thrift stores in nicer zip codes, as you can snag brand new stuff for way less than retail.
I usually use thrift stores to source clothes, costume options, and kitchen stuff.
I hit up the thrift store last week and got the following:
‑big skillet pan
I got all that for less than $30! SCORE!!
Your personal network ranges from friends, family, coworkers and even people you know in certain online groups. The important thing about this is to put it out there and let people know you’re looking for things. People often accumulate duplicates of things and are happy to give it to those who don’t have it.
For this apartment stocking bonanza, I relied heavily on my now-former roommate and her boyfriend for things. They went from 2 households to 1, where I went from 2 people to 1, so they had a lot of extra things and I had no things. It actually worked about pretty nicely. My coworker offered me a couch, but I had already gotten that (more on that later).
My in-person network got me:
-craft supplies cabinet
‑nice shelf/drawer buffet thing?
‑kitchen table and chairs
‑misc kitchen stuff like cooking utensils, glasses, measuring cups, cutting board, etc
$150 later, I have things to use and they have space! A win-win for all. Astute readers will notice I have toasters listed in two different categories. Originally, my roommate’s boyfriend gave me his toaster, but it didn’t have a bagel option, so I’m passing that on to someone else and got a Fancy Toaster at the thrift store.
Buy Nothing Project
I first heard of the Buy Nothing Project from Mrs. Frugalwoods. The Buy Nothing Project is a hyper-local group on Facebook that connects things that are no longer needed with those that can use them. I’ve seen things like bunk beds, craft supplies, books, clothes, baby stuff and more pass through the group. At the time I first heard about it, I lived in small-town nowhere that didn’t have any groups. I attempted to join one in Minneapolis, but it wasn’t in my neighborhood and I didn’t have the bandwidth to start one. I joined the one in Northern Virginia when I first moved here, but it wasn’t very active. The one I’m in now is incredibly active! I have gotten a few things from the group so far.
-bag of Reese’s Puffs cereal
‑bag of various picture frames for crafts
‑2 huge bags of clothes (which I’m going to keep 5 or 6 items and then pass on to someone else)
‑cat food feeder with timer (for when I go away on trips)
For every time I go to someone’s house, I intend to post something back to the group. Someone in the group was looking for a baby doll, so I offered up one of my unused Cabbage Patch dolls. I also found someone who needed moving boxes and another person to take my tiedown/ratchet straps. The toaster is next, and then I need to go through more boxes to find other things to give away. I have some things I could bear to part with.
You can snag some seriously great deals from people getting rid of stuff online. I am a big fan of using Craigslist to source the bigger stuff like furniture. I bought two really nice shelves when I first moved to DC for $75. They’re solid wood and worth way more than $75! On the other hand, you have to be careful people are selling what they put in the listing. My dresser is an excellent example. It looked nice online, but when I got there the top had been spraypainted to look nice and the rest is cheap pressboard that’s slowly falling apart on me.
My major score off Craigslist this time around was actually my couch! I stayed with friends in NYC that had the Friheten couch from Ikea. I was immediately enamored with the concept, so when it became clear I was getting my own place I started watching Craigslist. I saw they were going anywhere from $250–350. For reference, they retail for $600. Most people were selling the grey version, but I also saw some orange and cream versions. I didn’t really care what color it was as long as it was clean and worked well. I used a Craigslist app to set an alert so I would be notified immediately when a new one was posted.
The day before I moved, it happened. A Friheten couch was posted. Since I’d been watching the space for a few weeks, I knew immediately it was a great deal at $150. I messaged them, wrangled a friend into helping me, and bought the couch in the space of a few hours. If you buy one, I recommend not trying to pack the disassembled couch into your car in the middle of an intense thunderstorm.
That experience came in handy as a week later I helped my former roommate and her boyfriend move their new Friheten couch to their new place and assisted in assembling it!
For everything else, there are cheap discount big box stores. I still needed some things that I couldn’t find secondhand (or was unwilling to buy second hand…) so I hit up the retail sector. Picture me, incredibly exhausted, wandering around Wal-Mart at 11 pm trying to find everything on my list. I ended up spending about $60 there on a new kitchen garbage can, garbage bags, shower liner, shower hooks, paper towels, tissues, soap, sponges and probably other things I forgot in the haze of moving.
OH. I can’t forget I bought a plunger and toilet brush.
Protip: Buy those two things BEFORE you need them. Otherwise, you end up in line with just those things and everyone knows exactly why you’re there.
So, if you find yourself needing to furnish (or mostly furnish) a new place, I highly recommend checking out the secondhand scene before you pay retail for anything. I saved at least $800 on my new to me things! I’m very grateful I was able to get most of this secondhand, as I would’ve otherwise had to go without for a while or maybe not even get them at all.
As always, thanks for reading! What are some of the best deals you’ve gotten in the secondhand market? Sound off in the comments below!
Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early says
This is such a great list! One of my friends has gotten some crazy awesome good deals for kid stuff off of Buy Nothing — like a perfectly good trampoline 🙂
Angela @ Tread Lightly Retire Early recently posted…Women’s Personal Finance: Week 47 Roundup
Elise @ Financial Fitness Fanatic says
We recently downsized apartments and became obsessed with OfferUp and Letgo, mostly as sellers. For some reason, Craigslist buyers were always incredibly flakey. They seemed more like window shoppers rather than seriously interested buyers, and I got ghosted so many times! We had an initial goal with the move to not buy a single new thing, but ultimately had to cave to get a kitchen island due to the fact that our kitchen is incredibly teeny tiny for four people. We ended up finding an island on OfferUp for 1⁄3 the original selling price, in brand new condition, AND already put together for us (which would have been a nightmare for us to try to figure out).My fiancé had never been too keen on the used gear market before, but I think I’ve got him hooked now! Awesome tips!
Triple Bottom Line FI says
I’ve retrieved many household items from the dumpsters of small, independent, well-loved thrift stores. (The dumpsters at larger stores such as Goodwill and Salvation Army are less accessible or productive as those stores have trash compactors and more staffing to deal with the influx of items we Americans rid ourselves of on a daily basis.) Some of the items I kept for myself, some I gave away to members of my Buy Nothing Group or our local Time Bank. I even sold a number of those items on eBay and Etsy.
I’ve also taken these still usable, sometimes brand new items to swap meets, which are a wonderful place to acquire smaller household items and clothing in my town. The swap meet for parents with young children to exchange children’s and household items in my town is also well attended. I especially enjoy the one that is convened by a member of our local time bank and for which we receive time bank credit for attending. I really enjoy hanging out at these swap meets and socializing with like-minded people. My favorite one is held at a very community-minded café and the swap is as much a social occasion as an opportunity to exchange goods.
I prefer to hit estate and garage sales during the last hour or so when the sellers are more open to bargaining or just getting rid of things. Perusing Craigslist later in the afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays can also be beneficial as people often post garage sale leftovers they don’t want to deal with or bring back inside online for free.
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David | Embracing Lagom says
Great list, Gwen! Sounds like you definitely “won” at the apartment furnishings game. Just the reduction in decision fatigue is a benefit, let alone the savings and env. benefit (how are there 300 different ice cream scoops on Amazon?!). The couch seems like a great score! Also, the Mew photo — amazing!
One I’d nominate for the list is eBay. Not the best for home furnishings, but it can be good if you’re wanting a specific model of something (esp. electronics)…or simply feeling too lazy/time crunched to scour local sources. Phone ($50 saved), laptop ($600+ saved), tile wet saw ($60 saved), and a fancy rapid photo scanner for my dad ($150 saved) are some recent examples over the past 2 years. Plus, since it’s eBay, you can stack with occasional eBay coupons, cash-back portals, and discounted gift cards.
Not always a win though — a few months ago I tried to get an iron there and found its power cord was sliced open. Got it returned at no cost though!
David | Embracing Lagom recently posted…Stop Taking On Life-Debt
this is a very nice article, but I personally use facebook marketplace for sorting out used stuff and for buy, trading and more!
This is such a great list! I wish we had thrift stores or craiglists in India. we have classifieds like Olx or quickr but things are really expensive on it.
Nomadcareers recently posted…Savings Update – August 2019
Sana Haris says
I personally use the Facebook marketplace for sorting out used stuff and for buy, trading and more! That is the proper blog for anybody who wants to search out out about this topic.