How to furnish your home without breaking the bank

House furnishings can be difficult to decide on, stressful to find, and expensive to buy, but many find a way through. (Photo Illustration by Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

“The dorm life” isn’t for everyone. It’s hard. Sharing a room can be a pain, no matter how close you are to your roommate. Community showers and bathrooms are disgusting. Worst of all (for me), it never feels like home.

After living in Wefald Hall for my first two semesters, I decided to live off campus. One of the most exciting and difficult aspects of moving into a house off campus was coming up with its furnishings.

Go to any furniture store, online or otherwise, and look up the price of the cheapest sofa. It’s probably at least $300. You know what $300 can pay for? Almost a whole semester’s worth of privilege fees, hundreds of meals, numerous gallons of gas or a couple textbooks.

But you don’t have to break the bank to furnish your house or apartment. Here are a few tips my roommates and I used to hunt down furniture and decor for our space.

Watch Craigslist and the Facebook Marketplace like a hawk.

Yes, you will have to sift through hundreds of low-quality and irrelevant postings, but your bank account will thank you. Sort posts from lowest price to highest price and bask in the glory of $100 sofas.

Of course, they won’t be the most beautiful couches, but you are a college student who is (probably) renting a space with multiple roommates. In the next couple years, any piece of furniture you buy will inevitably end up with blotches of Sriracha and various other unidentifiable stains before you graduate. There’s no need to ruin a pretty sofa, so buy an ugly one instead.

Don’t limit your search to the Manhattan city limits.

There are other excellent picking grounds in the area. People are always moving in and out of Fort Riley, and Topeka is a sizable city that’s only an hour away. Don’t forget about your hometown, too!

Timing is everything.

Certain months of the year are prime for furniture hunting. At the end of each semester, there is a mass exodus of graduates skipping town and leaving their used furniture behind. Free furniture by the dumpster is a common sight when the semester is over.

When April and May roll around, Craigslist and the Facebook Marketplace are bound to see more traffic, and not only from sellers. Other people are looking for the same deals on the same items. Act fast when you see a deal.

Also, spread out your purchases if you can. You don’t have to buy everything at once. It took my roommates and I almost six months to furnish our house.

Take advantage of your family.

Reach out to your aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Have your roommates do the same. Ask if they have any furniture they’re looking to get rid of — chances are, they’ll give it to you for free or at a low price.

You could get two couches, a bedside table, a kitchen table and chairs, patio furniture, a bed frame, a rug and a Christmas tree out of it. Totally worth it.

Hey, hi, hello! I’m Rachel Hogan, the copy chief for The Collegian. I’m a senior in journalism from Olathe, Kansas. When I’m not at work in the newsroom, I like to spend my time cuddling with my dog, working as a barista and laughing with my friends.