After you move into your first apartment you can’t wait to go shopping. Then you enter your favorite home goods store and you’re faced with the age old battle between wants and needs. You may want a 50 inch HDTV, but do you really need it? You may want one fabulous over-the-top chair, but do you just need something to sit on? You may want an oversized couch, but is a small futon all you really need? When it comes down to it, you have to start your shopping by separating your wants and your needs.
After more than a year of saving, I have $2,000, so I will be trying to get all that I truly need within that budget. I already know that many of my wants will have to wait.
I have started shopping for items I will need immediately after moving in. The first item I bought was actually an online purchase. It was a collapsible over-the-sink dish drainer and a bamboo kitchen caddy and utensil set. I found them on a website that sells a plethora of home goods at discounted prices. I had already priced similar items and I knew their prices were better than anyone else’s so I had to jump on it. I regularly cook meals for myself and I knew that I would definitely be cooking during my first days in my apartment. I also just happened to have taken a trip to my family’s homeland of Jamaica where I bought two Dutch pots. They are a culinary staple in traditional Jamaican food cooking and my kitchen wouldn’t have felt complete without them. Other needs on my shopping list are a couch, a dining table, window curtains, shower curtains & liners, a TV stand/entertainment center, and a full length mirror. I am fortunate enough to already have all of my bedroom furniture so all I have to focus on is the living room and kitchen/dining room. I’ll also make sure to get basic cleaning supplies. My goal is to have at least $200-$500 left over for my decorating wants.
During the first few months of apartment living, you should spend your money on purchasing the basic needs. After you’re able to save up a little bit of change, then you can start indulging in the things you want for your apartment. For example, you’ll definitely need some dining plates and utensils. But you don’t need fancy kitchen appliances like espresso makers. If you buy any appliance for your kitchen in the first couple of months, make sure it’s something you’ll be using regularly, perhaps a toaster or a microwave. (Once settled, throw a housewarming party and you might be surprised by the generosity of family and friends! Stay tuned for a future post about party ideas.) In the living area, a couch is a definite need for me to provide a place to sit and relax. If you already have a TV like I do, I think it’s also necessary to have a stand that can also serve as an entertainment center/storage unit.
You really have to take the time to think about the differences between your wants and your needs. Your budget always plays a key role in that decision, as does your personality and lifestyle. Your needs may also include things that help you take care of your emotional well-being. They may include a bookshelf for your book collection (that’s me!) or a video game set-up if that’s what you need for your relaxation after a long day at work.
So happy shopping, and choose wisely! With time, patience, and sensible spending choices, your apartment will eventually get to where you want it to be.