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Living well for less

Student and budgeting specialist extraordinaire Ashley Faulkner shares her tips for glamming up your room when living in shared accommodation.

15 March 2023

New year, new me, and a new room makeover please!

It’s that time of the year again when you’re settled in, started work and everything seems back to the same boring routine.

But my room is looking bare, my lamp won’t stop flickering and I can’t find the lid to my favourite pot.

Being a student makes you feel like you are constantly on a financial back foot. Throw in a cost of living crisis in the mix and you really have to pick and choose your luxuries.

Back to Dunedin for my final time and after four years you would think I would have all the money hacks, but I am still finding new ways to live well for less.

A new dress? New running shoes? What about starting a new gym membership? I suppress these urges and remind myself about my wants and needs and what’s financially realistic. But what about a room makeover?

The thought was exciting and then disappointing once I looked at the price of a cushion cover from Citta or a new kettle from Noel Leeming. My hopes and dreams of turning my sad-looking student flat into a little piece of home worsened.

I walked past someone having a garage sale selling a beautiful antique coffee table then it all clicked. It’s not about what brand you’re buying it’s all about where you're looking.

These are my top tips for upgrading your space without downgrading your bank account.

  1. Pre-loved items
    Shop second-hand! This is the easiest cheapest way to go, second-hand stores, garage sales – finders keepers losers weepers!
  2. Keep an eye online
    The power of social media. Join buy and sell Facebook pages for free furniture. Most if not all of my furniture and flat homeware is from these pages or Facebook marketplace! It’s easy for both the seller and the buyer – some people just want their stuff gone and will let go of brand-new items for fraction of the original price.
  3. Kmart/the Warehouse is underrated
    Where everyone gets a bargain and a new crockery set. People often think these places are cheap and their products break easily, when in fact you will find some items like pots and pans or lamps and bedsheets are just replicas of expensive items from Briscoes or Farmers for the fraction of the price. I got a new plate set for half the price!
  4. Sale sale sale
    Who doesn’t love a sale? Don’t block expensive places out of your to-do list. Subscribe to their newsletters and keep an eye on prices, I got a brand new rug for my room for even less than what was selling at op-shops!

Just because you’re saving money, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the little things that matter. Whether it’s a new bed frame or a nice mirror, don’t let your bank account suffer. You just have to know where to look!

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