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.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Starving Student Survivor June 9, 2010 at 9:26 am

We’ve been married for six years, have two kids, and nearly all our furniture has been gifted/handed down to us, too. We bought a used TV a couple of years ago after using a hand-me-down TV that never had a very good picture. We bought one bookshelf to match another that was a gift, and we bought our “dining set” (a cheap card table with folding chairs).

We also bought a piano as an investment so I could teach lessons, allowing me to stay home with our kids. We paid cash for all the furniture we bought. Everything else is old and mismatched, but the price is perfect!

Vicki June 9, 2010 at 11:43 am

Been married 31 years and still most of our stuff is hand-me downs. We choose to spend our budget on other things.

eemusings June 9, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Oooh, great post!

We don’t have couches anymore, but when we did, they were either given to us, picked up off the road during inorganic collections, or bought for under $10. My desk I pinched from my very first flat, our TV was basically free (owner thought it was broken; BF took it off their hands and fixed a broken fuse or some equally small problem), I think we swapped our TV cabinet for something else, and we’ve had a lot of other things given to us.

So yeah, no, we don’t really pay for furniture either.

Mrs. Micah June 9, 2010 at 8:59 pm

@SSS “the price is perfect!” Amen! There are reasons for having a matched home and if you can afford it I don’t think it’s a bad thing. But I grew up in a home where not too much was coordinated and it was a real home, not a showcase. So I’m more comfortable with this furniture than I’d be with “nicer” stuff anyway. πŸ™‚

@Vicki Well, having 5 kids…that’s a reason to spend elsewhere and not really an incentive to buy pricy stuff anyway. Especially 4 boys. πŸ˜‰

@eemusings very nice! We haven’t gotten anything off the side of the road yet, but I got a couch that way in college. The only problem was that it smelled of dog & then of Febreeze. But it was big, wraparound, and great for 4 girls living in a 1-room quad.

Rainy-Day Saver June 9, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Most of my stuff is hand-me-downs or from people we’ve helped move. Just scored a nice coffee table and end table set from a friend we helped move a few weeks ago. Much of my first apartment was furnished by scouting curbsides the night before bulk garbage pickup — you’d be surprised what gets thrown away, especially after weekend garage sales.

Jesse June 10, 2010 at 3:10 pm

When we first got married and got our own place, we just planned to deal with having nothing for a while but we had so much family around, every few weeks someone would bring us something. We got a couple of couches, a entertainment center, some book cases, etc. It’s amazing what some people get rid of πŸ™‚ We soon filled our little apartment, and we still use a bunch of the furniture we got that first year of marriage.

Penniless Parenting June 10, 2010 at 4:47 pm

I like this post- it hits home!
I’ve been married 4 years. We officially have 3 pieces of furniture we bought new- 2 custom made bookshelves that are beautiful and were cheap as anything, and an oven that we bought dirt cheap brand new after our old 4th hand oven died. We got our bed sets for free, as well as our table, couches, dresser, desk, refrigerator, kitchen and corner bookshelf. These were either dumpster dived or hand me downs. We bought a bunch of bookshelves second hand, as well as a refurbished washing machine, chairs, and pretty much everything else.
Yes, my apartment looks a bit of a hodge podge, but I’m really glad to know we didnt waste lots of money on something that in 4 years would anyhow look like our furniture does now. We have kids afterall- our furniture would never stay in pristine condition anyhow!

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