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How To Furnish A Home For One-Fifth The Cost

August 1, 2014

Folks, here it is.

The post many of you have wondered, prayed, and dreamed for.

Today I will share with you our thrifty tricks on how we managed to furnish our first home for one-fifth of the cost!

All the Dave Ramsey “nerds” out there are waiting on pins and needles…I saw you salivating as you read the word thrifty 🙂

I want to address a couple misconceptions first:

  1. Second hand does NOT always equal to dirty, nasty, or ugly. I hear people say things like, “Well we just haaaad to buy a brand new couch, since you know, all those used ones have lice or something.” That’s bologne. You can find some of THE BEST deals on lightly used items that are cute, trendy, clean, and easy on the wallet.
  2. Buying things used is NOT simply for “poor people”. Plenty of poor people only buy new things and plenty of billionaires buy things used. Buying things used and in good condition is SMART because you can take the savings and spend or invest it elsewhere.
  3. Buying and selling things used doesn’t take that much time. Yup, there is a learning curve to learning the art of wheeling and dealing but once you have a few transactions you will be amazed at how easy it can be.
  4. Buying things new is NOT a bad thing. I don’t want anyone to think I refuse to buy new things or am morally opposed to it. I definitely buy some things new, particularly if I can’t find a used item that is similar to what I was looking and hoping for. I simply prefer to minimize expenses on “stuff” so we can give, save, and spend doing things that have more value to us, such as experiences and adventures…oh and that thing called adoption 🙂

So, now that we have that covered, shall we dive right into the deets?

First let’s take a peek at our SOLD list and then we will tell you how we did it. I am a firm believer in turning unused items into cash so you can buy items you want/need. Look what we found laying around the house being unused:

BR Dress $76.00
Lucky Peach $99.99
Nike Shoes $36.49
Charm Bracelet $24.99
Women’s Clothing $17.25
Men’s Clothing $15.99
Pasta Machine $20.00
Leather Couch $50.00
Pub Table $150.00
books on amazon $46.97
Sage Couch $50.00
Vera Bradley Bag $52.99
Swimsuit $9.19
Kenneth Cole Bag $29.99
Skin Care Products $124.99
down comforter $25.00
Coach Bag $19.99
Sperry’s $24.99
green swimsuit top $19.99
Grey puffy vest $9.99
Gym Bag $34.99
Lunch Sack $15.99

Total: $955.78


Where did we sell these items???


Ahhh, my friend ebay.

For more than half of the items we sold, we used ebay since it has a wider network of individuals shopping.

For example – how many people in one city are looking for a Banana Republic dress in a particular size?

Maybe a few.

But on ebay I knew there would be several people probably looking for that type of dress…several people I could entice into a bidding war on my item to drive up the value. 🙂 So any item that would be relatively easy to ship and needed a wide audience got listed on ebay.

There are two types of ways to list an item – auction style or receiving a best offer with a “buy it now” price. We typically did the week long auction on common items, to drive up bidding wars.

On more specific items, like old patterns of Vera Bradley only a small handful of people want, I did the 30 day listing with “buy it now” or “best offer” options. With those items I always set my price at or slightly above competitors with similar items but was absolutely willing to take lesser offers to get the items sold. I always counter-offered to get as much as possible from the sale, aiming for at least 80% of asking price.

And for goodness sake people, the photos matter!!! I can’t tell you how many people take junky photos of a quality item and it makes the item seem lame or less valuable. Below is a collage of a few items we sold on ebay.



My other dear friend, Craigslist.

After spending some time on Craigslist, you realize it’s best for heavier, bigger items that no one would ever think about shipping or items that have common local interest. If you list something on Craigslist and it doesn’t get any hits within one week, try relisting for one more week. If no bites, try ebay to widen the audience,

When listing items on Craigslist, always ask above what you’d be wiling to take, since negotiations are key in this type of sale. By asking higher, you will likely be able to end up getting what you wanted out of a particular item. I always do this, assuming the buyer will try to offer lower. Sometimes they do, and I typically take the offer to get the item sold. Bird in the hand…

Sometimes they don’t offer lower and I feel a little bad…but hey, I was willing to go lower, they just didn’t ask. Not my fault! 🙂

Other tips of the trade – don’t arrange buying or selling when you are alone. Have a second person with you OR if you have to be alone, meet somewhere public. 99.9% of people are amazing and I have not once had issues with Craigslist weirdos but it always pays off to be smart and prepared. Below are a few photos of items we sold on Craigslist.


We didn’t ONLY score deals by turning unused items into cash. We also bought things for the house at a FRACTION of the cost.

Here’s our BUY list:

Couch, Chaise, Lamp $350.00 $760.00
Table + Chairs $300.00 $773.94
Ceiling Fan $64.95 $118.37
Bathroom Rug $5.95 $20.00
Euro Pillows $17.90 $40.00
Kitchen Lights $30.00 $43.03
Bathroom Shelf $0.00 $25.00
Vizio 5.1 $230.00 $290.00
Sectional Couch $340.00 $750.00
lamps, drapes, etc. $250.00 $400.00
mattress + box $100.00 $700.00
coffee table $0.00 $119.00

Total: $1,688.80

The price on the LEFT is what we paid for the item. The price on the RIGHT is what we should have paid, had we paid retail.

Where did we do all this bargain buying?

You guessed it…our friends ebay and Craigslist. For good measure we threw in a local thrift store and even snagged some deals with manufacturer’s rebates at Costco.

On the buying side, the tips I have for you are to always offer fair but under asking price. Don’t be that guy who low balls everything. Do your research on what the competitors are offering and then try just a bit under that. Use this tactic on Craigslist and ebay “best offer” items. In general, I try to snag snag 40%  off the asking price, which is already low since item is used.

For the ebay auction items? Click “watch item” and DO NOT BID until the last MINUTE it’s up for auction. This way, the bidding isn’t being driven upwards all week long. The person “winning” the item feels comfortable…like they are the only ones who want the item so will they be at the computer during that last minute? No. You will likely walk away with the item and the best possible price by waiting to bid until the end.

Below are some of the items we purchased second hand:


Every item was brand name but just happened to be second hand. We bought the dinning room/living room matching Ikea sets from a girl moving to Seattle. The lights were all Hampton Bay. The lamps were from World Market.

All classy and clean, my friends, but very easy on the wallet! 🙂

For all you math nerds out there wondering how we came up with saying we paid only one-fifth of the price to furnish the home?

We took the amount we paid ($1,688.80) and subtracted what we sold ($955.78) for a net total of: $733.02

Then we took our net total ($733.02) and divided it by what retail price would have been ($4,039.34) for a total of 18% which is approximately one-fifth of retail cost.

If anyone has questions or stories about deals you’ve snagged – fire away in the comments section. I want to hear from you!

Have a great weekend! 🙂

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  • Reply beingmrsmurray August 2, 2014 at 5:56 am

    You did a GREAT job!! and your new furniture is lovely! When we got married I furnished practically our whole entire house using Craigslist (the only pieces of furniture I did not get off Craigslist were items I could not find, so I bought inexpensively from IKEA). I found some really really beautiful things using Craigslist. Whenever people come over and comment on any of our furniture, we proudly tell them “we got it off Craigslist!”

    Just a couple highlights….we bought a huge L couch in great condition for only $275. Just the other day a neighbor was over. They are moving and looking for a new, big, couch like ours. She asked where we got it and I mentioned Craigslist and the price. Her mouth literally dropped wide-open when she told me they have been looking for couches and ours would have cost at least $3,000 new. Yikes! I also bought a huge (can seat up to 10 with extensions) wood, dining room table with chairs. I knew the brand so was able to look up the actual cost $4,000 – if you include the cost of each of the 6 chairs which, alone were almost $300 each. We got the entire table and 6 chairs for around $400 (can’t remember exact price now).

    Anyway, we bought a lot of other beautiful things as well. I hear Craigslist isn’t as good in some areas though…so that’s the only downside. I also recommend checking it super often. I didn’t have a job when we first got married so I literally checked Craigslist obsessively. You just never know when something great is going to come up for sale and usually those things usually get snatched up pretty quickly.

    I’ve only used Ebay once and that was to buy my DLSR. I waited until Nikon released a newer version so tons of photographers were selling their older one at a discounted price. My camera new would have cost over 3k and I got it for around $1,200. Still a ton of money but that’s just how it goes with professional cameras.

    I’ve never thought to SELL any of our stuff. You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve just given away. Especially recently. I gave away some pretty nice dresses that I’m wishing I would have tried and sold. I guess I figured none of my stuff could sell for much but when you add it all up it can work out to be quite a bit. Hmmm I think we might try this before our next big move.

    Thanks for the great post! 🙂

    • Reply Amanda August 2, 2014 at 10:17 am

      Katie – Nice snags!!!! Sounds like you are a Craigslist and ebay pro! 🙂 You are right, there are absolutely areas where things aren’t likely as good. Larger cities are most likely the best places due to larger supply. Ebay tends to always have a lot since it’s national.I love that you checked CL obsessively…sounds like me as well! 🙂 I love even logging in some times to check what’s “free” in the local area. I found a brand new rocking chair FREE once. And a large dog crate. You just never know what you will find 🙂

      I encourage looking into selling – especially since you will be moving out of the country! Get some extra spending cash for your adventures!!!

      • Reply beingmrsmurray August 3, 2014 at 5:59 am

        I would have never of thought to check the free section!! What a great idea! I talked to Luke last night and we decided we are going to go through our house and put together a list of things we’d like to sell. Then we’ll decide what we can sell now and what needs to wait till right before our move. Hopefully we’ll get some extra cash for our move! 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Reply Grace of Adoption August 2, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Great job, everything looks so pretty in your new home! love the practical tips on deal finding. We love Craigslist and ebay!!!!! ….and have bought and sold on both. I need lessons on style and taste, I always feel less than confident when decorating or choosing lamps, curtains, furniture.

    • Reply Amanda August 10, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      Hi there! I am NOT a decorating guru at all. Basically I got on Pintrest and pinned things that looked good then copied them in our house. I totally recommend doing that for the creatively challenged out there, LOL.

  • Reply DavyS (@davyjs) August 2, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Those are great finds! We are trying to furnish our new home on a budget, and it is difficult. So far, our best deals have been at a flea market.

  • Reply Stephanie August 3, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    You guys are an inspiration! I’ll definitely consider using CL next time we’re looking for some furniture, so thanks for that. 🙂 Our big couch was basically a gift from some friends who were moving. Our dinner table was bought with a groupon deal, as was our coffee table. Actually, now that I think of it, most of our furniture was donated or bought on the cheap. I suppose this is just the “newly married” way of furnishing your new home. 🙂

  • Reply Kate Wurtz August 5, 2014 at 9:01 am

    I LOVE what you have done on such a low budget!!!! Genius 🙂 I would love to have coffee sometime, pick each others brains. If you are looking for low cost outdoor furniture or feeling like building things for less money Thomas built our outdoor table for less than $100 using http://ana-white.com/. I am serious about having coffee, sometime soon 🙂

    • Reply Amanda August 10, 2014 at 11:02 pm

      I’ll call you this week about that coffee! 🙂

  • Reply All in His Perfect Timing August 10, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    I love this post! You got some AMAZING finds!! Such a beautiful home!! I love Dave Ramsey and saving money as well and am always on the local Buy-Sell-Trade sites. I’m in a smaller city so I don’t have the wide selection of availability of nice goods, but there are some finds. We got a taller height table for 8 with a butterfly leaf and the 8 chairs off of the Buy-Sell-Trade sites and we just love it! And the thrift stores are a good place to check out as well – Catholic Social Services in our town has some great deals.

    • Reply Amanda August 10, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      That’s awesome you found such a great table second hand! I haven’t even looked into local buy-sell-trade sites or CSS…great ideas! Those sound like the way to go in a smaller city – way to be resourceful!

  • Reply Drea August 10, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    I love this post! I haven’t ever tried to sell anything on ebay or Craigslist, but these tips are great and have me thinking of all the stuff around my house that could be sold. I’ve been wanting to try selling things as per Dave Ramsey’s advice, but wasn’t exactly sure how to get started. Also, your finds look GREAT in your new home! Looks like a really lovely place!

    • Reply Amanda August 10, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      Good to hear this post has inspired you to start selling too! It’s really a lot of fun and sort of addicting. Now we go to the Thrift Store and try to buy things we believe we could resell for much more just for fun 🙂 Hope it goes well for you!

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