If you are moving into your first apartment, you are probably excited to “make it yours” by decorating it and adding lots of personal touches. However, you are also probably on a budget, which means a lot of the items you want to buy will be off-limits. Don’t worry. Even with a limited budget, you can still get your new apartment set up and feeling like yours so long as you know how to prioritize.
1. Establish Your Budget
Before you buy a single thing, you need to establish a budget for your new apartment. Calculate how much you can spend immediately on must-have items (like a bed, sofa, cutlery, etc.) and also calculate how much you will be able to spend in the future for less important purchases (like decorative throw pillows and extra linens).
2. Make a List of Essentials
Start by writing down each room in your new apartment. Then list all the items which you must have to make these rooms functional. Here’s an example of what this would look like, depending on how many items you already have.
Kitchen and Dining:
• Table and chairs
• Plates, bowls, cups
• Pots and pans
• Cutting board
• Sheets, pillowcases, blankets
• Full-length mirror
• Coffee table
• End table
• Book shelves
Obviously, you could add a lot more item to these lists. Include everything that you think you need to be comfortable in your new home.
3. Purchase Priority Items First
Even though a bookshelf might be one of your “must have” items on the list, you can probably get by for a few weeks with having your books stacked neatly in a corner. By comparison, it will be a lot harder for you to get by without a sofa, bed, and linens.
Purchase these priority items first. You can shop around for deals at places like Craigslist or local thrift stores. Check the classifieds to see if any garage sales are going on.
Remember, it is worth it to spend more on a quality bed and sofa as these items are crucial to your comfort.
4. Purchase All Low-Cost Items
Items like your bed and sofa are going to take a huge chunk out of your budget. Make sure you don’t forget to budget for all of the low-cost items which are absolutely necessary for your new apartment. These items may be cheap on their own, but can add up to a significant expense. Examples of must-have items include:
• Light bulbs
• Cleaning supplies
• Surge protectors
• Fire extinguisher
• Shower curtain
• Waste baskets
• Kitchen tools
5. Set a Monthly Budget
Once you have all the absolutely-necessary items for your new apartment out of the way, you can start gradually getting all of the other items you’d like to have but aren't absolutely necessary – like a nice rug or some decorative throw pillows.
To help keep your purchases under control, set a monthly budget for how much you will spend on furnishing and decorating your apartment. As tempting as it is, don’t let yourself go over this budget. Otherwise, you will probably end up with a lot of items which you don’t really need or ever use – something that often happens to people!