Challenge: Furnish & Decorate A Home for $5,000

* (see the update on our budget status as of January 2014 here)

I’ve been wanting to share this tidbit of what’s been going on here for a little while now!  A few weeks ago Karl and I had a “meeting of the minds” to go over a plan for making our house a home – a.k.a. furniture.  To begin truly doing that, we needed to implement a budget.

Let me back up a bit.  We’d always planned on having money saved and set aside for furniture once we bought a house.  During the time we lived in our basement apartment that came with furniture, we thought we’d be moving straight from it to our “forever home”.  So, we saved up for our future furniture.

the basement apartment

Though we’re super glad to now be renting a house versus a dank basement, we’re obviously not yet homeowners.

Not wanting to stay in a state of limbo (we have no idea how long we’ll be renters before becoming homeowners), we decided now is the time to use the money we set aside for furniture.  Plus, we’ll of course still have the furniture when we do move into our own home.

I don’t know where I got this idea, but for the last few years I’ve had the idea that I could furnish & decorate a home for $5,000; $10,000 seemed too much, and less than $5,000 seemed too little.  This may be naive, but $5,000 is what came to both of our minds to budget for furniture, so we’re going to darn well try!  ;)

So, once that first hurdle of a named dollar amount was cleared, the next obstacle was to get into the nitty gritty details.

I’ve been keeping a list of what furniture we need for each room, so I took that and put it into an excel sheet.  Then with each item I tacked its own budget to it, until we had everything we wanted coming in at a total of $5,000.

We’re pretty private people when it comes to finances and what we spend on big-item things, so I’m hesitant to share this….but I also feel like this is a journey and learning experience worth sharing.  Thus, I’ve got a peek at a part of the final excel spreadsheet for y’all here:

Having everything broken down like this really helps get a grip with what we can spend – a way we can gauge how we’re doing.  I love having this tool.  I wouldn’t be too surprised if the budgeted amounts next to each item will change as we go along.  …Move the $50 from being under-budget for one item and move it to another where it was a bit over-budget, etc.  I’ll try to keep showing an updated version of the spreadsheet as we collect items.

Here’s the further breakdown of the decor budgets to keep track of spending:

Next question you may be wondering: how do we expect to find these items for those prices?
Our strategy will be 1) perusing thrift stores, ebay, craigslist, 2nd-hand furniture stores, yardsales, estate auctions, flea markets, etc.  2) negotiating prices.

Possible problems: 1) we may go over budget on some items  2) we may have to sacrifice not getting certain items at all and/or re-prioritize what we need along the way  3) finding these items for these prices will take time.

Can we do this?  I honestly don’t know – we’ve never bought much furniture before (only our mattress and couch to-date – the rest was given or even gained from dumpster dives, lol), let alone bought for a whole home before.  We’ll be taking you along for the ride though!  Cheers for a challenge!

Edit: See updates on our budgeting progress for the porch and living room, as well as this post touring our home Oct 2013 and the totals for each room thus far as of January 2014.

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