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Outfitting Your New Apartment for $50 at the Habitat ReStore

By Jillian Lawrence, Guest ReStore Blogger

Life in your early 20s is cheap. As a recent college graduate who just landed her first real job, moved out of her parents’ house and into her first “big girl home,” I’m on a budget. However, my new house is bare. So, I did what any 22-year-old who is living paycheck to paycheck does. I headed to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Williamsburg.

With $50 to spend, I walked in and was greeted with large sectionals. As my roommates and I already successfully moved a couch into our house, I happily walked by, knowing that I won’t be having to lug another big piece of furniture up our steep 1800s townhouse set of stairs.

Wall decor. That’s where I went first. The plant mom in me was ecstatic when I found a plant-themed piece of art for the living room for $5. 

Shower curtains next. The beige curtains that came with my shower don’t quite bring life into my bathroom, and since the ReStore has everything, I knew they wouldn’t let me down. After pondering my options, I went with the white and light pink curtains, they were only $7.50. Plus, they had adorable hearts with a paisley pattern on them, it’s a step up from the bland beige that allows me to have creative freedom, not constraining me to a certain color palette.

Since I was already in the mindset of decorating my bathroom, I set out to find a cute soap dispenser. Check! Classic white dispenser with a rooster and only $3. 

With just under $35 left on my budget, I roamed for a bit. I wandered by the table section, where I found tons of kitchen tables. I made a mental note of the ones that I liked and planned to go home and measure the empty space in our kitchen. It would be nice to fill our empty corner with a small table, but that’ll have to wait for another ReStore trip. I continued walking around and walked past the lighting section, all the hutches and armoires, and the exercise equipment.

I walked the entire store until I found an extension cord for $10, and that was a score. Living in a house built in the 1800s has its charm, but only having one outlet in my room is limiting. 

Circling back to the plant mom in me, I couldn’t resist picking up three new pots. Not only do I have plants that need to be repotted, now I have a great excuse to buy a new plant.

Spending $6.50 total for the three pots left me with $18.50. Typically, I would be panicking with less than $20 and still so much to buy. But at the ReStore, $20 goes a long way. 

As I turned the corner, I discovered my own personal treasure trove. The mug section. I spent more time staring at all the mugs than I’d like to admit. There were so many choices. Mugs with hearts, mugs with motivational quotes, mugs celebrating Moms, mugs dedicated to college sports teams. Any and every mug you could imagine, it was there. I was on Cloud Nine. After carefully studying all of my options, I settled on three mugs: one with cactus all around it for one roommate, a plain teal one for my other roommate, and a green square like mug with ridges for myself. Each mug was 50 cents, so I spent a total of $1.50. 

I made a few more laps around the store. I wanted to be smart about how to spend my remaining $16.50. I saw a few interesting things that caught my eye, like the fall decorations and the little glass trinkets, but nothing that made me stop in my tracks.

Until I found the holy grail of ReStore items. A wax melter.

I love candles, but they always leave me a bit worried with having open flames, so finding a wax melter for only $3 left me with no choice but to put it in my cart. I had been eyeing a few wax melters online for a while but couldn’t commit to the prices. Finding something I had been desperately wanting for $3 felt like destiny.

I took a look at everything in my cart and tried to think about what else I needed for my house. Pillows? The ReStore has plenty of those but my bed is already overflowing. Plates? Lots of selections here, but with three of us moving into the house, we have more plates than we can count. Then it hit me. I don’t have a laundry hamper. I scurried down the aisles hoping I could find one, and I struck gold. A nice big hamper for only $12. Score!

With my remaining $1.50, I headed to the register to check out. The ReStore always asks if I want to round up to donate to Habitat for Humanity. I automatically say yes, so I gave my last $1.50 to Habitat because I love its mission. All the proceeds from the ReStore go toward building a Habitat house that will be sold to a local family. By shopping at the ReStore for my house, I am actually helping a family work toward having a home of their own for the very first time. I’ll be sure to come back to the ReStore, and I’ll bring my roommates with me. We have talked about putting a lot of our time and energy into make our house a home and taking a step away from the college lifestyle. The ReStore has everything to make that possible.

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We help as many families as we can, but the lack of decent and affordable housing remains a critical problem in our area. By donating, you will provide upfront funding for building materials and services that makes interest-free loans to Habitat partner families possible. Habitat partner families help to build their own homes - alongside volunteers - and pay an affordable mortgage. Your monetary donations enable us to continue building strength, stability and independence for future local families.