Hidden Apartment Costs
So, why did no one tell me that moving to a new apartment would be so expensive? I just got a new job and had to move across the province. I was happy when I found a good deal on a one-bedroom place but the furnishing costs are getting out of control! I need a bed, blankets, pillows, a couch, pots and pans, a desk, rugs, curtains….ahhhhh… it never ends. I don’t want to spend all my money on stuff for my place, but I also don’t want to be embarrassed to invite my friends over to my house. Is it possible to fill my apartment without emptying my bank account?
Antigonish, Nova Scotia
When I bought my first house, one of my friends told me – “It’s not the mortgage payment that will drive you crazy. It’s the never-ending trips to Canadian Tire and Home Depot that will ruin your weekends”. I didn’t understand what he meant at first, but now I do.
- Don’t rush! – If you buy something because you want it immediately, it’s extremely unlikely you will get the best deal possible. Take your time and look around for the best deal. As my mother used to say, “Good things come to those who wait”. There is a reason that phrase has stood the test of time – because it’s true!
- Put the word out – As soon as you buy a new table, somebody is going to say – “Why’d you do that? My aunt/neighbour/grandmother/bus driver/acupuncturist/plumber just got rid of hers!” To avoid this major annoyance, tell as many people as you can that you are in the market for new stuff for your apartment. Post it on Facebook and Twitter. Send a group email to your friends. Tell your mailman! Before long, you’ll have a home filled with things for a reasonable price – if not free!
- Use the Internet – What’s the Internet for, if not to find cheap stuff? Take a trip to Kijiji, go down the road to Craigslist, and check in at eBay. For the more adventurous, visit the Freecycle website – it’s a place where people offer things they no longer want for free. Yes. Free. That’s actually their main rule. Everything must be free! Sounds good, eh?
- Schmooze the salesperson – If you do decide you want to buy a new item at a store, always ask this simple question to the store staff – “Are there any sales coming up?” Nothing is worse than getting a flyer the day after you bought a $500 mattress advertising “Midnight Mattress Madness!! 80% off new mattresses!” If you are proactive and ask the staff if a sale is coming, they will probably tell about it. Then, you can come back the next day and get a great deal. No schmooze, you lose!
When you are doing your shopping, there’s another thing that you have to consider – only buy what you can afford. Be wary of deals that say “No Interest for 18 months” or “Buy Now, Pay Later”. My advice is that if you can’t afford it now, you shouldn’t have it now. Starting your life with a pile of debt is a terrible burden to have. It’s important to start making wise financial decisions when you are still young.
If you follow these tips, you’ll have a nice place to live in – and enough money left over to actually “live”.
Jeffrey Schwartz is the Executive Director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada and President of the Credit Association of Greater Toronto (CAGT).
If you have a question about a debt management program or just about finance in general, Jeff is here to help. Send us an email with your question to [email protected] You’ll get the expert advice you need and your question may be featured here on our website.