A dog in a cardboard moving box.

It finally happened — you’ve moved into your first-ever apartment. Congrats! Finding the perfect place, moving and working through the unpacking process is a huge accomplishment.

Now let’s do the fun stuff: shopping and decorating. You probably need a few essentials you don’t own yet and you’d probably like to find a decor vibe that suits your personality. Most importantly, though, you’re likely looking to accomplish all this on the cheap.

So, here’s how to furnish your first apartment on a budget.

Making a plan for smart spending success

Start by making a list. You’ll want to have two columns: essentials and nonessentials. The must-have essentials would include things you need daily like sheets for your bed, bath towels and silverware. The wish-list nonessentials that will transform your new place into a home are accessories like fuzzy blankets for the couch, artwork for the walls and scented candles to add a warm ambiance.

Next, estimate how much you’re willing to spend on each item. How much could you manage to spend and still live comfortably? Then, space out the purchasing so you don’t overspend during the first month or two in your new home, leaving it hard to pay rent and utilities.

Thankfully, we also have plenty of ideas for stretching your dollars when it comes to bills!

Saving money in a new apartment

You’ve got your list and spending plan, now let’s dive into the creative, budget-friendly ways you can get all the things you need (and want!) for your new pad without living on ramen and PB&Js, shall we?

Get creative and upcycle

So many things can have a second life if you just look at them a bit differently. That empty pasta sauce jar that’s headed for the recycling bin works well as storage for your cotton balls or swabs in the bathroom — or to store future leftovers in lieu of buying food storage containers. Your bank account and the environment will thank you.

Additional things that can easily be upcycled include old T-shirts into dusting/cleaning rags, lightbulbs into holiday ornaments and flat bedsheets into sheer curtains.

Shop at thrift stores

When others are packing up to move, they often deep clean and declutter their current property. Those unwanted home decor pieces, kitchen supplies, extra blankets and unworn clothes can easily become treasures for you to seek out.

Browse local thrift stores for both essentials and nonessentials at a fraction of the price of buying new. After all, do you really need brand-new cookie sheets or soup bowls? Probably not!

Ask your friends and family

If your home-owning friends mention a spring cleaning spree, let them know you’re in the market for a few things to set up your new apartment. That couch they have tucked away in the basement or unused set of pots and pans from a wedding guest might be just what you need — and helps them declutter their space. It’s a win-win for you both.

Go to rummage sales

Whether you hit up outdoor garage sales in your neighborhood or go to a larger community rummage, you’ll find bargains at every turn. The sellers want to get rid of the things they’re no longer using, which means you can haggle and get even lower prices on some items. Simply say you’re setting up a new apartment and ask if they can offer a deal.

Use coupons and cash back offers

Okay, so we know some things simply need to be purchased at the store, like fresh towels, groceries to stock the pantry and bottles of cleaning supplies. Before filling up that online shopping cart, be sure to download the Coupons.com app so you can stock up on cash back offers to reduce the cost of your purchases and earn some extra bucks to put toward future purchases. Stocking that pantry from scratch can be pricey — don’t try to do it without using coupons and cash back offers to cut those prices down.

Striking out on your own

It can be intimidating to move into your first apartment, especially if you’re alone. You may feel the need to get situated all at once — but there’s no rush. Take your time and shop smart, especially now that you know how to furnish your first apartment on a budget.

Here’s to starting a new chapter in your life. You’ve got this.!