Around the end of May, our tv started going on the fritz. A connection has probably worked itself loose and Micah and I are trying to figure out whether to see if we can fix it ourselves or start looking for a new one or just live with it for now (I lived for years with a tv whose picture went out spontaneously, if you don’t watch too much it’s easy to deal with).
This got me wondering how old the tv is, since it was a gift from friends who were upgrading. In fact, every piece of furniture in our apartment is a gift of one kind or another. Though we’ve been married for three years, Micah and I have never purchased a piece of furniture on our own.
No, it’s not that we have incredibly rich friends or parents (though we received a few generous gifts of brand-new furniture as wedding presents from family and we’re quite grateful for that), but most of it’s because we took what people didn’t need any longer.
Our tv came from a couple who’d just bought a flatscreen and needed a bigger entertainment center. So we got the entertainment center too. Our couches go pretty well together but come from separate friends, one of whom was replacing the older couch and another who simply didn’t have room in their new apartment for it. Our dining room set came from a family replacing theirs. The bookcases were all gifts I’d gotten over the years from family members and things my mom found on the side of the road. A desk and end-tables came from a friend whose grandfather had died and who was disposing of his furniture.
How did we get it?
1) Social network. Friendship shouldn’t be looked at for its value in tangible rewards, but it can be incredibly helpful when you’re just starting out. We didn’t push needing this, but because people knew we were getting married and just starting out, they told us when they were getting rid of furniture or suggested us to friends who had extra furniture (which especially touched me). I hope we can do the same for friends when we actually get rid of anything.
2) Lending a hand. Micah hates moving. But he’s also a very big, strong guy and an incredibly helpful guy so he tends to help friends and family move. A side perk is that sometimes people he’s helping out offer him something they discover they don’t have room for (at most 10% of the time, so that’s not why he does it).
We also lend a hand by picking it up and getting it off their hands. Depending on where you live, it can be hard to get rid of a piece of furniture, and getting it picked up from your home is even more convenient than dragging it outside.
As the saying goes, “One person’s trash is another’s treasure.” There’s nothing structurally wrong with anything in our apartment and until the tv went out we hadn’t even thought of replacing it.
When you’re just starting out, don’t be ashamed to rely on friends to help you get going. Don’t even be ashamed if you hear someone talking about buying new furniture to ask what they’ll be doing with the old one. We didn’t have to, but we would have politely offered to take it off their hands if they didn’t have plans for it.
And give back, whether it’s gratitude or other favors or something to someone else down the road. It’ll make the world a better place.