Living Large, Spending Small: Tricking Out Your First Apartment on a Budget

I’m done with college and officially a member of the real world. I have a job and a new apartment. I’m feeling safe and secure from those real-world risks with a new renters insurance policy for my apartment.

Now, I just need some new stuff that’s worth insuring. I want my new pad to be a cool, comfortable spot to hang out and entertain; I’m so done with living in sorority house squalor. Luckily, I’ve got $3,000 in graduation gift money saved and, after doing a little research, this is what I’m thinking I’ll pick up.


In school, I spent a lot of time watching Hulu on my laptop, but that doesn’t feel very adult. I’ll need company while I watch hours of reality TV on Sunday afternoons and making my girlfriends huddle around a 13-inch computer screen just isn’t going to cut it.  These days, and especially around the holidays, it’s not unusual to find a 40-inch HDTV on sale for around $375, which would be a great, affordable addition to my living room and will definitely win me brownie points with my football-crazy boyfriend.


My job’s not a simple 9-5, and my boss expects a lot from me. Because I want to do my best, I’m going to need to put in some time after hours and on weekends and I’ll need a reliable computer for that. It’s time to upgrade the 4-year-old fossil I’ve had since freshman year, and a refurbished  laptop looks like the perfect replacement. OK, yes, the fact that I’ll look really cool sitting on my couch while typing on it is a contributing factor.


No more beanbags and blow-up furniture. It’s time for a real couch that hasn’t been dragged inside from a street corner. I’m thinking about going to that gigantic, Scandinavian furniture store to pick up an ultra-sleek loveseat for just over $300. It seems relatively affordable, but its bold style statement makes it look about three times the price.

Record Player

I’m a huge music lover, but I can’t afford a top-notch sound system yet. I could always blast tunes through my laptop, but a $100 record player might be a more interesting aesthetic addition to my living room. Picking one up will also force me to amass a collection of vinyl…which is totally awesome in its own right. Album covers are also a great cheap way to decorate a space if displayed in an interesting way.


Being able to relax in my apartment is a top priority, but I’ll need to get out and show off my heel collection at some point, too. Prepping for nights out with friends is a process, and I need a chic beauty station to make sure all goes to plan. That’s why I’m buying a vanity and stool. It’ll look perfect with my bedroom set and it’s less than $150. Some people say beauty is pain, but no one says it has to cost a lot.