Saving money while getting good quality is hard. It gets worse when the time comes to buy furniture or other relatively expensive items.

Of course, you could always just head to the thrift stores. Run by various charities, thrift stores offer used furniture of varying quality. I’ve seen couches as low as $30, although most people probably wouldn’t welcome that particular couch in their living room.

If you want to go a little higher quality, consignment stores can be the answer. They are more picky about what they accept, and many have discontinued merchandise from stores, not just used items.

My husband and I recently bought a couch from a consignment shop. We knew we couldn’t afford much, and it was quickly apparent that even the low end new couches were out of the question. The very few we could consider price-wise we couldn’t stand either in terms of appearance or comfort.

The couch we bought at the consignment shop is amazing. It was about $350 – not cheap, certainly, but much less than just about any new couch. It is in beautiful condition, filled with down, and was more than $2000 brand new. We love how it looks in our home.

When you go to the consignment shop, be ready to ask if the price can go any lower. Our couch had been marked at about $470, but when we hedged, that being more than we wanted to spend, the salesperson went to the computer and discovered that the couch was due for another markdown. Saving $120 on a couch is certainly worth a few minutes. That’s about 25% off the price.

Even if you’re looking to decorate with higher end items, consignment shops can have amazing deals. We had more fun looking at furniture that would fit beautifully in our dream house, whenever we may buy it.

You can find consignment shops for clothing as well. I particularly enjoy buying baby clothes from consignment shops. My daughter’s holiday dresses always come from consignment shops. Why pay $30-100 for a dress she’ll only wear once, and probably has to be dry cleaned if she’s ever to wear it again, when there are beautiful dresses available for $5-15, and many of them have been worn once or never? Everyday clothes for babies are available as well, and are typically in much better condition than you find at the thrift stores.

You may hear grumbles from family members who aren’t struggling with money. My inlaws had a terrible time understanding why I would buy used clothing for my daughter when she was first born, until they took a good look at the quality I was finding and the relative prices. My mother-in-law has gone shopping with me now, and she was one of the most vocal opponents to her first grandchild having just about anything that had been used by another child. I enjoy telling people about my better finds, the new items with tags from the store still attached, the jeans in perfect condition – even those who have plenty of money will be amazed at what you can find.

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