College kids need comfort, too

By Mir
August 7, 2008

The very pretty and witty Victoria took time out from her busy Ivy League schedule to send me the following email:

I am a very poor college student with more student loans than I can possibly pay off in this lifetime. Nevertheless, I would love to be able to furnish my bedroom with furniture not fashioned out of twigs and leaves stolen from the campus green. More specifically, I am looking for a chair: a nice, comfy, lounging kind of chair that can seat one or two, and most importantly, can support a certain amount of weight, as many of my friends are strapping young lads.

That said, I am poor, and at the end of every year I must donate or give away everything because I live on the other side of the country. Which means I would rather not spend more than, say $50 on said chair, though I can probably scrape up $100.

Is this an impossible task? Should I just give up and perhaps pilfer a dining room chair? Please help me! It is only due to my slavish devotion to reading your blog that I can occasionally eat out (! woo!), buy nice shoes (price matching + Amazon Friday sales!), and generally afford life. In any event, thank you! Without Want Not I would still be wearing slippers fashioned of tree sap and bark.

Let me be the first to say that I’m delighted you’re not covered in tree sap, Victoria.

Now, kids, gather round and I’ll tell you all about when I was in college, back in the dark ages. It was a time full of hope and promise, when girls had big hair and everyone wore flannel. Yes. I miss it. In fact, I—

What’s that? Oh, you didn’t want to hear about that? Okay, then.

Anyway, back when I was in college, everyone who was anyone had a bean bag chair. They were cheap and easy and portable, and it made for useful seating. But I guess such things are passe, nowadays.

Or are they?

It turns out that there are now a billion different kinds of bean bag chairs, and Overstock has a bunch of huge onesicon suitable for one or two college students to lounge in. (Be sure to look at the Adult and Jumbo sizes, not the kids’ ones.) Oh, here’s another styleicon, too. These are probably still a nice pliable option for you, unless you hate bean bag chairs.

That’s probably what I’d look for if it was me and I wanted something brand new. But Victoria, you’re a college student. You’ve already said you’re probably going to get rid of whatever you get at the end of the year. This is why the good Lord invented CraigsList and Freecycle: There are lots of people out there who want you to take their futons, their foam loveseats, and other things away for little or no money.

Check out thrift stores and consignment shops, too, if you’re willing to do some in-person shopping. You might not want to furnish your eventual house with an orange-flowered armchair, but it’d be kind of a cool conversation piece for a year in your dorm, no? Round up some of those strapping young lads and hit Goodwill. My guess is that they’ll help you haul furniture for a slice of pizza.


  1. Try the craigslist in your town….

  2. THANK YOU! The beanbags are awesome, but you are right. Strapping young lads are meant to be utilized. The pizza is actually a fantastic idea, and I will do as you say: hit Salvation Army and feed people to move stuff for me.

    Also, I think I might buy a beanbag chair 🙂

    PS. The reason I hadn’t really considered Craigslist/Freecycle an option is that I have no car, most of my friends have no car, and the majority of the things being given away require having a vehicle. Alas.

  3. IKEA is another option if there’s a location close to you.

  4. Something that might or might not be less expensive than replacing everything each year is renting storage space. My daughter’s college is close enough that I am able to put a roof-rack storage bag on my car, load up that and the car interior, and haul her stuff back and forth. One of her friends who lives much further away (and who has more stuff) rents a nearby storage locker over the summer.

    It may be even more affordable if there is enough space for more than one student to utilize and split the cost. Then befriend someone with a large vehicle. 🙂

  5. FWIW, Home Depot and Lowe’s in my area will rent a truck capable of hauling furniture for about $20 for 75 minutes. Their theory is that it’s enough time to get your HD and Lowe’s purchases home and back. My theory is that, with careful planning, you might be able to get your used furniture home in time.

    Alternatively, place your own ad (on craigslist, or better yet, your campus bulletin board) seeking someone with a suitable vehicle to help you out for a nominal fee.

  6. If you’re really clever, you can buy something now and then sell it to someone next spring. I worked on campus several summers; there must be people who work on campus and would like to buy a chair. Profit, maybe not, but you’ll at least recoup the price of the pizza.

  7. One more idea: I bought tables one time that I realized, AFTER I got them out to the parking lot, were too big to fit in my car. I called the local taxi service and asked them to send over a minivan. Because I was willing to load/unload myself (or make my husband do it), they were cool with it. It cost under $20 to get everything home.

  8. I’m shocked no one has mentioned the perennial favorite of college students everywhere: the papasan chair!!!

    The Pier One version is relatively inexpensive (see:, but at the upper range of Victoria’s budget, once the cushion is included.

    BUT! Because it is a perennial favorite among college students, they’re pretty easy to find used. Definitely check Craigslist and use the ingenious (seriously! ingenious! you guys are so smart and pretty!) solutions of my fellow commenters above and maybe you’ll find a gem! If the cushion seems sketchy or doesn’t match, you can always just buy a new cushion at Pier One (or World Market…see: –their chairs seem cheaper, but their cushions are more expsensive. *sigh*).

    Good luck, Victoria! As someone who is only barely on the other side of your situation (as in, aged out, not about to age in), I sympathize completely.

  9. I too can sympathize, as a graduate student (older, and wiser, but still strapped for cash!). I have a furnished place, so I don’t need to buy any furniture at the moment — that was the solution for me. BUT, I did go and buy the one thing that I cannot live without. My lovesac ( It is AMAZING, and super super comfy. I sit in it over the couch every time. It’s a giant memory foam filled bean bag type sac that fits two people very comfortably, possibly 3 or more. They are normally very expensive, but I searched Craigslist forever and was able to get mine for less than $100 — if you’re not picky about your cover, then you might have an easier time finding one.

    They are huge though. You will need a truck or equivalent to move it (it completely filled every square inch of my Explorer – it was like my car had been taken over by this giant marshmallow!)

  10. I bought a round chair for my daughter from Target and it is huge! I see online that they are marked down to $27.99 right now. We got the one with 4 feet and it is very stable. I like to sit in it because it’s comfy.

    I agree about renting a storage unit. I rent a 5×10 foot one where I live for $40 a month. Well worth the money for what I need.

  11. Check out the Ikea Poang chair. Around $90 if you have one close by, or you can probably get it shipped for around $40. So a little more than you are looking at, but a great looking chair!

  12. I used the “I’ll give you a case of beer if you move or bring xyz” not that you drink or consume alcholic beverages. But that’s how I found guys with pickup trucks that would go curbsiding with me to get stuff for my apartment. My parents scored at biglots for some coffee and end tables

  13. Some second-hand stores will deliver, if you have no car. But you can also rent a van for a day and buy a used chair and still come out ahead. Especially if you use the van to do all the errands you’ve been putting off doing on foot.

    Also, there’s a freebie section on Craig’sList – people giving stuff away. Go for it!

  14. I have this chair from Ikea and love it.

    But having been through the poor student phase myself I think its much better to buy stuff second hand. You need to time things so as to be aware when other students are moving out etc. For e.g. the end of semester is a really good time. Most universities have online message boards for furniture etc. We had something called which I trawled extensively. Sometimes you can find people selling stuff and willing to deliver it just to be able to get rid of it.
    Good luck 🙂

  15. Fold-up beach chairs are pretty cheap, if you can find some sturdy enough for hefty folk (though that might not be quite as cushy as you’re looking for).

    I had a giant yellow beanbag back in the day, pilfered from my family’s living room. It was quite popular!

  16. Yay, Brigitte! I was going to suggest checking w-m, target, home depot, lowes, etc. for outdoor furniture. They go on clearance this time of year, and many have big foofy cushions and are comfy enough to put inside.

  17. I forgot about camping furniture. You can get a lightweight, comfortable camping loveseat that folds up small enough that you may even be able to transport it back and forth. That is under $50. Single chairs, also. There is even inflatable furniture, though I don’t recommend that if you have cats.

    My daughter’s school has movie nights out on the quad and she has a camping chair stored in her closet for those, as well as visits from friends.

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