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. In reality any extra money goes to pay off my car. Our goal is to have it done by the end of 2012. It’ll be a challenge, but doable.

    In my fantasy land where the car and our student loans are paid off already, I’d love to have a deep freeze and dining room table and chairs set.

    Also, it’s the wrong time of year now, but next spring we’re finally going to be able to garden. Previous landlords did not allow this. So any left over money could go toward irrigation hose, plants, setting up a composting area, and any other necessary supplies. In the past we’ve helped in a friend’s garden in exchange for produce, but we’re pumped to do our own. Fresh herbs! Tomatoes! I love fall, but I already miss summer food.

  2. Ooh, tough choice. First response would be to pay off debt. But if we didn’t have debt (actually if we didn’t have debt we would HAVE almost $1000 a month to spend on the house!) or had to spend it on BUYING something…

    A mattress. An honest-to-goodness, sleeping-on-a-cloud, mattress. I’ve been sleeping on futons since I was 3 years old, but as my body has grown and my deteriorating joints accelerate, I find more and more that the futon system is just not for me. I want to be able to live and move around when we have kids, so a good mattress (and soon) would be the best choice.

  3. i would….
    1.) aaah, buy a table made of real solid wood. not that plasticy-wood-glue-stuff.and big enough for everyone.
    2.) get new loudspeakers. heck,or a whole lot of new audio equipment… and a mirror ball.
    3.) have a super-duper-mega-sized bed.
    4.) turn the bathroom into carribean wonderland with color, plants, rugs….
    5.) probably fill all the existing gaps: a washer, new socks, car seat for the kid, some clothes… (lame, i know)

  4. if i had $1000 for house stuff, no debt and weren’t planning on shifting countries soon, i would like:
    1: A bed i wasn’t conceived in 😀 (hey, a free bed is a free bed…)
    2: A Brandon Bird print. We’ve had our eye on No-One Wants to Play Sega with Harrison Ford for months, but hopefully shifting so…
    3: a griddle. or a waffle maker. or both.
    4: new couch. ten-year-old thrifted armchairs are holding up surprisingly well, but it would still be nice to actually have a couch.
    5: Lamps. i would love one of those flash daylight-lamps for crafting.

    This of course is all hypothetical considering it’s going to be a few transient years before we’re somewhere for any length of time… but boy can i dream.

    • You don’t need to have a $1,000 to make your griddle/waffle maker dreams come true. I just picked up one of each for $2.95 apiece at my local thrift store.

  5. A really nice bed. We have the best mattress in the world, but it lives on a horrible metal frame and some plywood. I want my bedroom to be pretty, dammit!

  6. I am tempted to say a new roof and loft insulation because we are currently bleeding energy big time. Alas we rent and it would be a debatable waste.

    Failing that I would ask my Aunt to make us a dining set out of English oak.

  7. You know, as soon as you buy a home it seems like there’s a never-ending list of things to buy/replace/repair…

    1. A bed. We have a mattress, but it sits on our floor. Our warped floor, as the house is 104 years old. It would be really swell to have a level surface to sleep on, even if it means jimmy-rigging the corners with pieces of wood!

    2. Finish replacing the windows. One of the previous owners put vinyl replacements in most spots, but we have three standard windows, four arched ones, and all the crappy storm windows on the front porch that need to be replaced.

    3. Repair the basement. Again, 104 year old house with a brick foundation–nuff said.

    4. Have someone come level out the back yard and plant grass.

    5. A new front door and surrounding wood. I can stick my finger underneath the one we have now…

    Cat–we’re in Des Moines. We have an antique upright piano. It needs some love, but if you want it, you can have it! LOL it came with the house when we bought it.

  8. Each one of these would be $1000 on their own (if not more), but here’s my top five list:

    1) Have an electrician come out and fix whatever is wrong in our garage so that the doors will open and all the outlets will work again.

    2) Have a plumber come out and just completely redo our showers. They were clearly do it yourself kits put in by the former owners. The leak, the handles fall off, and they’re just generally problematic.

    3) Cleaning up all the water damage/mold in the basement. We seem to have stopped the worst of the flooding (for the time being) with our last $1000+ house expense, but we haven’t even started on repairs.

    4) A new mattress. None of this Craigslist BS. Not that I’m certain you can get a king sized mattress for under $1000.

    5) Custom frames for all the various sized pictures I want to hang on the walls plus buying the Blurb photo albums I’ve put together, but can’t afford to actually purchase.

  9. I actually had this happen recently. My husband’s grandmother sends us a $1,000 check whenever her bank account gets too big (it rocks, I know!). Usually it goes straight to bills or house payment or something responsible like that but this time we’re doing alright so we spent it all on fun stuff.

    With the $1,000, we…

    Stayed in a hotel on the way back from visiting Grandma

    Bought VIP tickets to Yo Gabba Gabba Live!!!

    Went on a shopping spree at Goodwill (everything I’m wearing now is from that spree, wee!)

    Spent $100 at Toys R Us

    Bought $60 worth of small things on Amazon that I’ve been wanting to get (baby-proofing things, some hard-to-find VHS tapes, etc)

    Got groceries at the local/fair trade organic grocery store

    Bought a few used cloth diapers at a local consignment store

    Stocked the fruck UP on baking soda and vinegar and essential oils (I am SET for like a year now!)

    Bought $50 worth of mama cloth.

    Also, now that I look at this list I have to chuckle. It’s all either practical and still frugal or it’s super awesome and for our kids, ha.

  10. I would probably spend it on non-sexy ivy removal. Well, that’s what I should do with it. But I’d be really tempted to spend it on a Juki sewing machine.

  11. We just spent ours on a proper sofa, to replace the overstuffed jobber I bought off an old coworker five years ago.
    Incidentally, Cat — my husband and I live north of Des Moines, and picked up said sofa at Homemakers — they of the gigantic showroom in Urbandale. They have some pretty sweet-ass stuff there (i.e. sofas that resemble the Karlstad but may cost less AND don’t require a drive to Minneapolis! w00t). If you’re still shopping around I’d give them a look.
    Also, I’m pretty sure I could drop a grand on stuff from this place:

  12. My husband actually won $1200 over the summer. We bought a new laptop, and a bunch of little things. If we get another windfall, my list is :
    1. A new couch. Our current couch was found by a dumpster by my husband and his old roomate. It looks like hell and smells… salty…, but is ridiculously comfortable. So the new couch has to be of equivalent comfort, in addition to looking/smelling nice, which may be hard to find.
    2. I’d like to get rid of this bulky horrible desk. In my dreams I replace it with a mid century sewing table or a secretary.
    3. Book cases. Most of my books are in boxes, but since my daughter likes pulling books out of her bookcase and leaving them all over the floor, the boxes might be a better idea for the time being.

  13. I’d go with a good area rug, or maybe some nice window treatments. A fresh coat of paint if that’s what was dragging me down.

    I’d steer clear from big-ticket items like couches, it seems like $1000 is barely scratching the surface for a good couch, and I learned the hard way that going for the cheap stuff isn’t always cost-effective in the long run.

  14. For everyone that dreams of rugs, I’ve had excellent luck on There are some pretty lame ugly ones, but sometimes you can find good ones too. I’m a total rug fiend (hardwood floors).

  15. 1.Tempered Glass to cover the fantastic dining room table Derrik made out of a par of doors from ReStore.
    2.Cloth napkins so I can stop wasting so many paper towels!
    3. Supplies for all those DIY craft projects I’ve got in my head.

  16. 1. deep freezer
    2. shelves for the garage
    3. a new laptop (mine is on its last leg…)
    4. a HEPA air purifier
    5. or put into savings to go towards a new (used) car

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