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Every Single Thing I’ve Bought For My New Apartment & Whether Each Was Worth It

The process of doing up a brand new place can be an expensive one, but if you’re like me, you’re always searching for ways to make it cheaper. I often go the DIY route or look into buying things I want secondhand (I’m all about that Craigslist life when it comes to furniture). All in all, I think I was able to accomplish what I have in my apartment thus far while keeping on track with my budget, and without making a bunch of impulsive, regretful purchases.

There have, however, been a few apartment-specific purchases that simply haven’t been worth it (and I’m still digging through receipts to figure out if I can reverse them — sigh).

I decided that to keep myself on track and prevent myself from making any more mistakes (however small they may be), I’d make a little list of everything I’ve gotten so far, and if it actually worked out well for me. Here is everything I’ve bought, how much I’ve spent on each, and whether or not it was all worth it.

Worth it:

1. An attractive dog bed: $12

Most dog beds are either a shade of tan or brown, or brightly-colored, dog-bone-printed and generally unattractive. When selecting a new bed for my puppy when we moved, I picked one that was in a soft light green material so it would look cute with our furniture when it was out in the room instead of in his little playpen area at night for sleeping. This way, it isn’t a huge eyesore in our room and actually feels like a purposeful piece of décor. Also, it was only $12 at Marshalls — score!

2. Living room lampshades: $20 ($10 each)

We had some ugly-ass lamps in the old place that we planned to replace with new ones once we moved. However, when our budget was feeling tight, I reassessed and realized that the bases of the lamps themselves were actually pretty cute, and they just needed some new, modern-looking lampshades. We tossed the giant, yellowing, pleated lampshades they came with and replaced them with two smaller gray ones. The lamps look entirely different now, and actually fit perfectly in our living room with their new update, so it was definitely $20 well spent.

3. An assortment of decorative & functional trays: Around $30 total on a few of them

These are my favorite thing for two reasons: 1) they are pretty damn cheap, and 2) they are actually super useful. I get most of mine at Home Goods or Target for $10 or less (some were even under $3 in the dollar section at Target!) and they get so much everyday use. I have one on the coffee table for holding candles and coasters, one on the dining table that holds napkins and a vase of flowers, one by the door where we put mail, etc.

4. A shoe rack and coat rack: $50 and $30, respectively

This was a non-negotiable purchase, because although our shoes were always fine left by the door in our old place, we now have a puppy who likes to chew things, so we needed somewhere to hide them. We got a bench/shoe rack and hat/coat rack to go above it in our hallway, and it has been perfect for hanging our coats, bags, and keys, and tucking our shoes away to keep them safe from the puppy toofs.

5. End tables that match pretty much nothing we own: $32 each

This seems like the type of purchase that would end up being quite regretful, because I bought these end tables 100% because I liked the way they looked despite the fact that they matched literally n-o-t-h-i-n-g we owned. (They have elegant silver legs and a white marble top, and our couch and entertainment center are basically clunky and dark brown — so pretty much opposite styles.) Interestingly enough, when I put them into the space (with the tags still on, of course, in case they looked awful) they actually looked really cool and contrasted nicely with everything already existing in the living room. I’m so happy I took a shot on them even though they were so different than what we had — they changed the whole look and feel of the room for under $70!

6. Assorted fake plants: Probably $25 total

We have huge windows with deep windowsills that seem to be the perfect spot for perching little flower pots and picture frames. I only had a few fake plants upon moving in, but we’ve updated the collection a little more to bring a bit of ~botanical flair~ to our all-white walls. I love the way the brighten up each room in the house, and they are often around $5 each, so it is a pretty good décor deal.

Not worth it:

1. A pot rack for the kitchen: $20

We bought this with the intention of hanging our pots on one of our bare walls in the kitchen, but haven’t even hung it up yet because our pots don’t even match enough for us to want to display them. I think we bought it thinking we’d update the cookware collection asap, but we are taking a little longer on that one. For now, it seems like this purchase wasn’t entirely worth it.

2. Two bedroom lamps: $30 each

Since we had no lighting in our bedroom when we moved in, we quickly had to grab a few table lamps so we could at the very least see where we’re walking when we get home at night. I sourced two cute, inexpensive, $30 lamps from Target that I genuinely love, but apparently didn’t notice when I bought them that one of them had a lampshade that was slightly different than the other. They look exactly the same at first glance, but when the lightbulb is turned on, they are completely different colors (one is bright white, one is very yellow). I checked the tags on the inside of the shades, and sure enough, they are different. However, the shades aren’t sold separately, so I’d have to exchange the one with the wrong shade for a whole new lamp — and they are sold out everywhere. (I’ve searched. Ugh.) So, the lamps look hella cute when they’re off, but when we turn them on, it is very noticeable that they are not matching. I remedy this by only turning on one lamp at a time so you can’t see the contrast, but ugh, this was a terrible purchase.

Unsure — stay tuned:

1. A real live plant: $15 for the plant, $25 for the planter it sits in

As you can probably tell from the “fake plants” point on my “worth it” list, I do love the idea of plants. I love the color green basically anywhere, and I think they bring something special to any space. However, aside from a few herbs in a pot by the window that I grow for cooking purposes, I’ve never really kept live plants in my home. However, I found one at Ikea for pretty cheap, and after a light Google search found that I could probably successfully take care of it as long as I leave it by a window and remember to water it at least most days. We’ve had it for a week and it is still alive, so it was $15 well-spent so far. However, we’ll see how long this lasts, and figure out later if living plants are a thing I should continue buying.

2. A new bed: $260

Drew and I had a really nice solid wood bed frame that we gave to his brother in favor of a vastly different and much cheaper Ikea one. Maybe seems like a downgrade, but tbh, our reasoning was simple: the old bed was too freaking big. I’m short with stubby little stems, and he has a bad leg, so climbing into a bed that was many feet off the ground was just generally unpleasant. Getting into (and out of) your bed shouldn’t feel like a chore, so we decided to make a change. Our new bed is much lower, and has under-the-bed storage, which is awesome. However, it doesn’t have a headboard, which we thought we would prefer because our bedroom has huge windows on every wall and a headboard would cover them no matter where we place our bed in the room. But it is slightly annoying to retrieve fallen pillows that sink into the window-area, and I do kind of miss the headboard just for making the bed look cleaner and more put-together when it is made. We’ll see if we continue to like this bed, but for now, it seems like it was a pretty good purchase.

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at mary@thefinancialdiet.com!

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