Cheap (and Chic!) Furniture by Craigslist

Get Great Furniture on the Cheap at CraigslistGet Great Furniture on the Cheap at CraigslistBy: Juliana Weiss-Roessler

It's finally happening. You're moving out of your parents' house for college and getting your first apartment. Or maybe you're tired of living with roommates and have managed to scrape together enough cash to get your own place. Or perhaps you're upgrading from renting to buying.

Whatever the situation, chances are after paying for the place itself, your funds are going to be a little low, which is going to make shopping for furniture tough. You might think places like Target would be great for furniture bargains, but a lot of their stock is as much, if not more than Ikea!

Yes, that's right, I'm talking about finding less expensive furniture than what you'll uncover at Ikea, that bastion of generally affordable home furnishings. Why? Because whatever experts say, it's a recession, and money is hard to come by.

So where are you going to find better deals than Ikea and Target? Craigslist.

It takes a willingness to sift through the clutter and check out some furniture that looks good online but ends up falling short… but if you stick it out, you'll be surprised by how many great bargains you'll find. Thousand-dollar couches selling for less than $100. TVs for pennies on the dollar. And lots and lots of Ikea furniture that's in perfect condition, but people for some reason or another are selling for huge discounts - even better, it's already built!

But before you log on, here are some rules of the road:

Pictures only. If the person doesn't have a picture to show along with the item description, move on. Think about it this way - even with a picture, there's a chance you'll arrive to check out the item and discover flaws that didn't show… but if there's no picture at all, you're walking in blind and just hoping for the best. Unless it's an amazing bargain or a very rare item, don't bother without a picture.

Phone a friend. When it comes time to actually check out the item in person, most likely you'll have to go to someone's house or apartment. Don't be afraid to bring a buddy with you for backup. The vast majority of people on Craigslist are just like you and me, but there's no reason to risk it. Safety first.

Comparison shop.
Craigslist is the ultimate classifieds ad compendium and there's every chance that if you see that dresser you want today, someone else will be selling it tomorrow - possibly even cheaper to beat their competition!

Wait a day… or a week. Oftentimes, people who post their items on Craigslist just want to get rid of them because they're moving or need quick cash, and many people game the system and repost their stuff everyday. Because of this, if something doesn't sell right away, you'll often notice that prices drop the longer a person has an ad up. Be patient and you just might get a better deal. Also, don't be afraid to haggle when you get there. It's part of the process.

Sterilize! When you do finally pull the trigger and buy that couch you've had your eye on, remember that this is something that has been owned by a stranger and do your best to clean and sterilize it before moving it into your nice, new place.

Give Craigslist a try. When you're eating at your antique dining room table five years from now that you bought for a fraction of its retail price, you'll be glad you did.

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