5 stores to explore when furniture shopping on a budget

In four weeks I will be moving into my first apartment (screams internally with stress and excitement) so I’ve been shopping for odds and ends throughout the summer for my bedroom as well as the kitchen and living room I’ll be sharing with my roommates. This week I was on the hunt for a nightstand to go beside my bed and as a result I ended up visiting a lot of different stores and various websites. I was looking for something affordable, but sturdy and with some storage as well.

Here is my ranking of the five stores I was the most interested in during my search and which one ultimately had the nightstand I was looking for.

Nightstand criteria:

  • Small and easy to assemble
  • Multiple shelves, drawers or a combination of the two
  • Under $50

5. Target


I was really hoping I would be able to find what I was looking for at Target because it is my go to store when it comes to shopping for college, especially for school supplies, but it came last in terms of furniture for me.

There were several tables I found that were very similar to what I wanted, but only a few in my price range. I found this table in the clearance section, my favorite place, and it was marked down to around $30, had a drawer for storage and was pretty sturdy. But I wasn’t a big fan of the natural wood and would’ve preferred a shelf on the bottom.

4. T.J. Maxx


Okay, so I used to hate T.J. Maxx because I was a very impatient shopper. I liked to go into a store, spend about twenty to thirty minutes finding what I was looking for and then leave. But, let me tell you my friends, I have found my patience and discovered the beauty that is T.J. Maxx. If you’re willing to take your time and look at everything in the haphazardly organized clearance sections you can find some amazing things at great prices.

While this is more of a cart than a nightstand, it was more of what I wanted than the previous table because of the multiple shelves. “Why are shelves such a big deal” you ask? I’m kind of a “cluttery” person and stack things wherever I can find the room, especially books that I read before bed or textbooks for class, so I love furniture with shelves. The only problem I had with this one was that it was around $40 which was near the top of my budget.

3. Wayfair

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I love online shopping for the convenience and occasional free shipping, but I have never actually used Wayfair before and only started looking at it this week because of a recommendation from my mom. Upon further exploration of the website, I’ve decided I’ll most likely be a customer in the future.

They have such a huge selection and I did find a really nice nightstand that was on sale for $37.99 and it had the whole drawer-shelf combo going for it. I found it earlier in the week and kept it as my “backup” if I didn’t find anything in a store. It was also going to require some assembling, probably not an insane amount, but enough that I was also deterred from it just a little bit.

2. I’ll Second That Consignment


If you’re a college student on a budget, second hand furniture and consignment stores are your best friend. This store was another recommendation from my mom and is about five minutes away from my house in Indian Trail, North Carolina. I really love consignment stores because the owners usually have high standards when it comes to “gently used” and you can find some amazing furniture, housewares and home decor for a lot less than retail prices.

This wicker nightstand was super affordable at only $18, had several shelves (one already filled with books!) and obviously required no assembly. Similar to the nightstand from Wayfair, I kept this in the back of my mind as a possibility throughout the week. I was sold on the price, but wicker didn’t match the furniture I knew was already going to go in my room.




This store is not for the faint-hearted or someone who isn’t super fond of crowds, especially on a busy Saturday afternoon. Before this trip to the Swedish, home furnishing retailer I had never been to IKEA and was overwhelmed to say the least. But I stuck it out and after looking around for a little while I finally found a winner!

This wire storage table was the perfect combination of drawers, an affordable price of $14.99, and very little assembly. It’s small enough to fit under the desk I also ended up getting at IKEA and matches it too. The slightly stressful trip ended with some frozen yogurt and cinnamon rolls to take home for the next morning, which definitely sweetened the deal.

It can be hard to go shopping for furniture, especially when it’s for your first apartment and you’re on a budget. I was only shopping for a little nightstand this time and had a bit of a hard time choosing which one I wanted. My advice is to shop around and take your time, because if you find something you love that’s also a quality piece of furniture hopefully you can continue to use it for several years.

I hope some of this advice helped and you can use it next time you’re shopping for something specific.

Do you have any stores you love shopping at for your college dorm or apartment? Let me know in the comments!


Back to reality

Ah, the beach, feel the breeze, hear the waves, soak up the sun and on that last day of your vacation let the dread of returning home fill you up.

Okay, so maybe it’s not that dramatic, but we’ve all been there on the last day of vacation, wherever we might be, hoping that we had more time. Part of that dread lies in the knowledge that we’ll have to get back to our commitments, our day-to-day routines and reality in general. As someone who has been on many vacations and school trips, I’ve discovered a few tricks to getting back into a regular routine as quickly and painlessly as possible.


I can’t stress this enough, which is why I’ve put it at the top of this list. In my opinion, if you don’t unpack within the first 24-48 hours it can be really hard to get back in your groove because your luggage is just sitting in the corner of your room mocking you. “We had so much fun,” it says. “Why did we ever leave? Let’s go back now!” Most likely, that isn’t going to be an option for you, so if you can unpack your souvenirs and dirty laundry and put that taunting piece of luggage in its place, it’s going to be so much easier to get back to reality.

Ease back into things

Raise your hand if you didn’t follow your workout or diet plan on vacation…oh my gosh, I’m not alone! Vacation is about relaxing and spending time with your friends and family, so don’t sweat it if you ate some guilty pleasure foods or said peace out to your workout routine for a few days. While it’s important to get back to your healthy lifestyle, know that there might be a little lag time in your workout intensity or vegetables might make you cringe and that’s O.K.  because you had fun and made memories, which is the point! So take this transition step by step and don’t get mad at yourself if it takes a little more time.

No regrets

Helloooooo down therrrre,” I scream into the empty abyss that is my wallet. It’s easy, well it is for me, to spend a little too much money on vacation and when I get back sometimes I start to regret my decisions. But, when you let regrets sneak into your thoughts, they can put a cloud over the great time you had while you were making those decisions. So, my advice is to save a little money in the weeks after your vacation by packing your lunch for work, wait a little bit longer to get those new shoes you’ve been wanting and remember that it’s worth it because you had so much fun!

Hope these tips help you the next time you’re coming back from a vacation, school trip or weekend getaway!

Got your own tips or tricks to share? Let me know in the comments.

(Photo credit Kate Ansel. Carolina Beach, NC. June, 2017)