So you have $1000 to spend. WHERE DOES IT GO?

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One Thousand Dollars!

This doesn’t happen often, but sometimes we have some extra money to spend on the house. A few hundred bucks for new speakers, or a grand for a couch. Each time we have a windfall we can put into our home, we stall with anxiety. Scott and I have been living together a long time, and out of our parents’ homes for a decade, and just like most people in their late twenties, money like this needs to be used carefully. We can’t just fritter it away on hookers and beer — we’d like a sensible piece of furniture good for a lifetime.

I know a rainy day fund is the practical choice, but here are a few big-ticket items I’m considering for “found money”.

1: A rug

Tepper Jackson by Surya Goa Contemporary Hand Tufted 100% New Zealand Wool Ivory 7'9" Round Floral Area Rug
Tepper Jackson by Surya Goa Contemporary Hand Tufted 100% New Zealand Wool Ivory 7’9″ Round Floral Area Rug

$1000 isn’t a huge carpet budget, but it’ll get you there. Even if you buy a so-so rug that works for now and alter ends up lining your studio floor, it might still be a good idea.

Thanks to last Thursday’s Nate Berkus, I know that a good area rug should fill “most” of the room, and should be able to fit at least 1/3 of the way under the surrounding furniture.

Anthropologie had a really nice selection. During a recent rug quest I searched Amazon, Overstock, Urban Outfitters, and more — it was thorough. We also visited the home stores in our area — and in Omaha! — and the ReStore. Nuthin’. At least, nothing that fit our budget AND wasn’t ass-ugly.

2: A couch

Roxbury Sofa
Like the Roxbury sofa for $957.

3: A musical instrument

A piano (often easy to find free on Craigslist, but figure in the cost of moving and tuning,) a guitar, or some other fun toy.

4: A space egg chair

LexMod Eero Aarnio Style Ball Chair in Orange Exterior with Green Interior
LexMod Eero Aarnio Style Ball Chair in Orange Exterior with Green Interior

5: Wallpaper


Grasscloth wallpaper is expensive but so worth it.

What household buy is your unexpected fantasty $1000 earmarked for? If you could make an improvement for that much, what would it be?

Comments on So you have $1000 to spend. WHERE DOES IT GO?

  1. I’ve had a hard time finding the exact rug I want for my compy/reading/nap room I’m working on now. I want a black shag rug that will be soft and comfy to step on. I don’t want it to fill most of the room, as I think that may be too much texture in one place; it’s all about breaking rules, right? Another thing I really want is a twin daybed for aforementioned room. I have one picked out, and it’s *only* $700, and we have the extra for it, but spending so much in one place freaks me out for some reason. At least I got the painting in that room done, even if the furnishings are no different than before 🙂

    • There are a couple of shag rugs at Home Depot that look pretty comfy. Big Lots is another awesome place for cheap rugs (especially if you can find a sale).

      But yeah, personally I would spend $1000 on minor home decor stuff. Kinda sad, I’m in my second apartment and yet I still need A LOT of stuff decor wise. Currently planning to get curtains for the kitchen and living room, artwork (usually, I do my own artwork… just need the supplies for new pieces and frames for old pieces), a fluffy/cuddly type rug for reading books on, etc.

      Also, a dvd and book shelf. Being avid movie watchers and book worms (Ravenclaw represent! lol), we have piles of dvds and books lying around the apartment. Would be nice to have it all organized. =)

      • I have adequate DVD and book storage- I still have DVDs and books laying in precarious piles all over the house that the cats use as stepping stones to get from place to place (resulting in a DVD avalanche that wakes the dogs, which is hilarious). I don’t think I’ll ever change.

  2. I LOVE Homegoods, Marshalls, and consignment shops for this kind of thing. They’re the best when you have the time to hunt for the perfect piece. Just moved in to a new place, and I had a little bit of money to burn — I got a $800 rug for $200 at Homegoods, and a *gorgeous* veneer wine bar for $115 at a local consignment shop. Score!

  3. I actually have such an allotment of funds right now that is going to a trip to Ikea for organizational/storage furniture and space saving shelving. I think having the proper way to store all of my art supplies and his gamer geek collection will make a serious contribution to the way our house functions.

  4. If I honestly found $1000 with no set use it would honestly go into us getting a car (which we don’t have) and put some into paying off my student loans. I’d rather scrounge at the thrift store or DIY a crochet rug for eternity than live in fear that my relatively small student loan will become too much for us to bear.

    But say I’m living in my own little Utopia and we had a car and no debt: Probably a sweet rug or an old, sturdy dining room table or an old sturdy sofa.

    • I’m with you on non-fun uses. I can’t even get past how nice it would feel to take a grand out of student loans, or to know the “Oh Shit! Fund” was well stocked.

      I’ve gotten some rugs I’m very happy with off craigslist, by waiting patiently and sticking to my price point, which is a strategy I can’t use with the U.S. government or for emergency medical bills/rent/vet bills/last minute plane ticket home to see a dying loved one or whatever else might come up through the Oh Shit! Fund. I can’t tell you how good it feels in an emergency to have a well stocked emergency fund and not have to calculate your finances while emotionally distraught.

  5. Fantasy? New table and chairs for the dining room. I hate our set (I do not care that my great great grandfather made it. It’s awful. My mother doesn’t seem to want it either, so there’s that).

    Reality? We need a new oven. We haven’t had a working one since…. December. But I’m not buying a cheap oven. The one I want is two grand, so we’re saving up for it. If I’m going to replace the damn thing, I’m only going to do it once, and with something that I will actually enjoy using.

    • We also have a “family heirloom” table and chairs. I hate gifts with strings. Ours is falling apart and we are not allowed to get rid of it, and nobody else will take it! So it lives in the garden shed…

  6. I like the idea of a list of five.

    1.) Couch. We have an ENORMOUS sectional that is so, so heavy. We dread moving out so much just because of that one thing. Replacing it with a couch and maybe a couple armchairs would be a delight.
    2.) Curtains. We’re only allowed to hang curtains if they’re backed with white, so we’ve never bothered. But I think it would make everything feel more cozy.
    3.) Washer/dryer. This would make our lives infinitely better, I’m sure of it.
    4.) Cookware. Again, not decor, but c’mon. A dutch oven would result in SO many more home-cooked meals. Ooh, and a big stockpot! And new knives! And a griddle! And a grill!
    5.) A rug or twelve. Our carpets are beige. Our walls are beige. Our blinds are beige. Our couch is beigey.

  7. A rug! We have nice hardwood floors, but I would like a big soft rug. Playing with the baby on the hard floor and thin rug is not comfortable. Also I think a rug would protect the floors from all the stuff that kids drop and spill. We’ll probably just get a carpet remnant with padding for now. I just don’t want it to look shabby and tacky.

  8. Right now it’d probably be a new fridge freezer. Our old one packed up and we’re making do with a tiny-ass fridge with a useless freezer compartment about the size of an ice cream tub.

    But if that wasn’t an issue I’d want to replace most of the shelving in the living room. We have a lot of books, DVDs and CDs and they’re currently spread around the room on an assortment of second hand or cheap self-assembly shelves that are either worn out, broken or just plain crap. I’d like to get rid of them all and get a matching set that actually suits our needs instead of being whatever we could get our hands on.

    It doesn’t even have to be something fancy. I’d probably go for one of those mix-and-match dealies from Ikea. Just something that looks more “Here is our awesome collection of stuff we’re in to” and less “Here is a random jumble of stuff”.

  9. I could easily spend a grand on kitchen gadgets (food processor, dehydrator and deep fryer are on my list). Actual decor items I could probably nicely finish my space for that. So blackboard paint, peg board and accessories, and an art table.

    • I’m with you on the kitchen gadgets. I don’t know how much I’d use, or where I’d put it on our already-crowded counter, but I yearn for a robin’s egg blue Kitchenaid mixer. Le sigh….

    • A new bread machine. Mine attempted suicide by shaking itself off the counter and now I have to reassemble the top every time I use it. But as long as it works I can’t justify spending money on a new one – no matter how annoying it is.

  10. My top five list for things to do with $1000:
    1. Reparging the basement. There’s one corner where water seeps in when we get heavy rain, which has happened a ridiculous number of times on the East Coast since we bought the house. Some day we want to finish the basement, but step one is making sure it’s reliably dry down there.
    2. New washer/dryer. The ones we have work, but they’re not energy efficient. Oh, and they’re kinda beat up and plug-ugly. Ok, we’d probably need more than a grand, but it would be a start!
    3. New bed (queen size!) for the master bedroom. And maybe a couple other pieces of furniture to round it out, since it’s a huge space with a sitting area and bathroom, and currently feels kind of cavernous.
    4. Start renovating the kitchen! I love our knotty pine cabinets, but the counter top is ancient Formica and the shelves underneath have no doors (they’re covered with curtains, which is cute but kinda weird). We want to swap the placement of the stove and dishwasher so the dishwasher is next to the sink and get a new counter top with cabinets beneath.
    5. Extra mortgage payment! It’s 30 years down the road, but we don’t have to pay a penalty if we pay our mortgage off early, so why not? Either that, or a nice huge credit card payment!

  11. We just bought our house a few months ago, so we’re kinda the opposite of having extra money to put into stuff right now, but we’ve talked about setting up a running list of projects/improvements we want to make (like repainting a room, replacing a faucet, etc.) and instead of buying each other gifts on our anniversary, choosing something affordable from the list to tackle.

  12. NEW CARPETS! my fiance and i have a 2 bedroom condo that had a bunch of cosmetic problems when we got it, and we’re sloooooooowly trying to mzke it as pretty as we know it can be. mos of the repairs were pretty simple and cheap, but we haven’t had enough money to replace the grimy, disgusting carpets.

  13. Storage. One of those storage units that goes over the toilet, and something for our tv/dvd player. Or slipcovers for our couch and comfy chair. They were given to us to us by a family friend (brand new, but too soft for her back problems) but…the floral pattern is a little too little-old-lady for my tastes, and I would love to have something other than ye olde student solution of blankets and throws to cover them up.

  14. I’d buy lumber. We’re building built-in bookshelves, more shelf and closet space, a low platform bed, and a hanging daybed on the front porch, and we’re doing it all ourselves. Being able to buy high quality woods and a power tool or two would make me very happy.

  15. Things I would possibly do with $1k, neat to think about, someone else started with the 5’s, so I’ll continue.
    1> Two new appliances: Chest freezer and gas dryer.
    2> My college tuition, every bit I don’t have to borrow is a good thing.
    3> My crafting/business workspace.
    4> A blackcat cougar cutting machine.
    5> Tiling our dining room, kitchen, bathroom floors with the heating tubes underneath. Mmmm, warm floors.

  16. If we found a grand, it would probably go somewhere else besides our current living space. We’re toying with buying in the next year, in order to accomplish that we need to pay off our car (so close!) and get a few grand together for closing costs. Plus we have a wedding to pay for.
    And we want new backpacking equipment…
    But, our current space needs things too, like curtains to block out the blazingly bright street lamps, and a new couch that doesn’t have a broken spring. And I really want a deep freezer and a stocked bar.

  17. My vote is to update your closets. If you have the standard “pole and board” like I did, changing it to a combination of bins, drawers, multi-level hangers and shoe racks is a huge improvement. (Pull out laundry bin? Yes please! )

    It’s not sexy, I know. But you will feel so good every time you open your closet! $1000 would probably cover all the closets in your house if you DIY it and you can easily find “kits” to do what you want.

    • We have huge closets, but the space is so poorly utilized. I fantasize about gutting them and going all Elfa on their asses. In the meanwhile, though, I try to make them more efficient with old plastic drawers from college and various bins and baskets.

  18. this time of year we spend a lot on neat or vintage looking halloween items. And since we got all the big stuff when we got in the apartment I’d have to spend it on the fantasy trip to new orleans I’m planning. Lol.

  19. These comments make me feel a lot better about our lack of money situation. It’s nice to know we’re not alone! $1000 would go towards patching the crummy parts of the roof before it starts leaking. We have a working fridge and oven and washing machine. A dryer and a dishwasher would be nice. We can make do with hand-me-down furniture for now.

  20. A king-size canopy bed! With matching furniture! Our current bed was originally a floor model at ikea, and our non-matching bedside tables were half off at Meijer’s. Which is great when you’re broke newlyweds, but it’s time for us to get an upgrade. Unfortunately we’re also saving for a house, so a new bedroom might not happen for quite a while since I want to put high-quality stuff in it.

  21. Before this, I would have said new bookcases before my books stage a coup and actually take over the entire house. But now I really, really want that egg chair. My dissertation would get written so much faster if I had a comfy chair in my office, right? Right?

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