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When you’re setting up your first place, it can be hard to decide where to spend your money. I know firsthand that it can be all-too-easy to hang on to a mattress that’s past its prime and spend your money on the perfect comforter set instead. It’s totally normal to want to spend your money on the visuals (because no one is going to see your old, stained mattress), but knowing what to invest in and what to skimp on will save you money in the long run.
For me, this is a no-brainer. You sleep eight hours a day. A day has 24 hours. Ergo, you spend 30% of time in your bed. That’s worth shelling out a little bit of cash for. Experts recommend keeping your bed for around seven years, so even if you pay up to $1,000 for a bed, when you do the math, that’s only $12 a month. You spend more than that on a delivery pizza. For more affordable alternatives to traditional mattress stores, check out some of the companies disrupting the mattress market, like Nectar Mattress and Eight Sleep, among others.
In your bedroom, your nightstands aren’t doing any heavy-lifting. For most people, they’re just there to hold a reading lamp, a book, and whatever else may tickle your fancy. A $35 nightstand can do that job just as well as a $300 nightstand. My personal tip? Change out the cheap-looking knob for a nifty Anthropologie knob for a quick facelift.
Furniture you use every single day needs to be able to stand up to the everyday wear and tear. Your Target dresser might have worked fine in your dorm, but don’t count on it lasting much longer. When it bites the dust, go ahead and invest in a solid piece.
If you don’t want to actually invest a lot of cash, check thrift shops for an out-of-date dresser with solid “bones,” then invest some elbow grease. From personal experience, I can tell you that the key here is to look for real wood. Wood furniture lasts much longer than cheap, particle board furniture, and is way easier to refinish.
You do not need designer curtains. Or even high-end curtains. They just hang on your windows, so they don’t see a lot of wear and tear (unless you have pets or babies, and then you really don’t want expensive curtains).
You can find a decent blackout curtain (my personal bedroom preference) for about $15 a panel at Target, so $30 a window. Go ahead and watch for a sale, by all means, but avoid curtains that are $30 and up at all costs. Expensive blinds aren’t going to be worth splurging on, either.
There isn’t a good, straightforward answer here. I can confidently tell you that cheap sheets (and I mean $20-a-set cheap) are not worth it. They will pill and wear out and just get plain ratty-looking before you know it. Experts tell us that insanely expensive sheets aren’t worth it either, though, because thread counts are often inflated. The best advice I can give is to invest in a set or two of better quality sheets (look for sheets with longer fibers in a percale weave) to get the most bang for your buck.
Save a lot, actually. You’re not supposed to have a TV in your bedroom at all — it’s bad for your sleep. If you live with roommates and a TV in your bedroom is really the only way you’ll ever get to watch Marriage Boot Camp, you can snag a perfectly serviceable TV from Craigslist (or even a Black Friday sale) for around $100. It won’t be a glorious 50 inch, at-home-cinema experience, but do you really need 1080p to watch trashy reality TV?
Area Rugs: Save
I love a good area rug. They break up monotony and protect your floors from stains and wear and tear (especially important if you rent your place). Not to mention that a bright, fun rug can tie together your style like no other piece can. That said, the neon rug with an abstract print that rocked your post-grad world might not hold the same place in your heart in five years. Go ahead and let your cheap rugs protect your floors, but don’t expect them to stick around forever.