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Home Products You Don't Need to Buy

Some ways to outfit your apartment for cheap or free

Apartment living as a young adult can be tricky at first. You're still figuring out how to take care of the new place you call home, how to cook and clean up after yourself unassisted. And then there's all this stuff that people want to sell you. Since I moved into my first apartment two years ago, I've found that a lot of standard home products are easily replaced by cheap or free solutions. If you're new to the apartment game, budgeting is always good. These are five things I eventually realized I didn't really need to buy.

An Electric Coffee Maker

If you don't drink coffee, you obviously don't need a coffee maker. But for those of us hooked on this sweet black nectar, there are other options too. Unless you're brewing coffee for a ton of people every day, a simple coffee cone or French press will suffice. The latter is a good option because you save money on paper filters. I personally use a little ceramic cone and "tea" pot to brew about 16 ounces daily. You use less electricity and your water gets hotter when kettle-boiled. 

A Full Knife Set

If you're cooking for yourself, you'll definitely need knives. But most companies will package six, nine, or twelve into one set and price it accordingly. Really, you'll only need three knives starting out--a big one, a small one, and a serrated one. Your big guy works for bigger vegetables and meat, while your little guy acts as a paring knife for things like garlic. The serrated knife should be big enough to be a bread knife, but can double as a tomato knife in a pinch. Unless you're doing some gourmet foodwork in your kitchen, you're not going to need a big expensive knife kit anytime soon. 

Drinking Glasses

"What?" I hear you say. "But how will I sip my lemonade without a drinking glass?" Here's what you do: go buy a jar of jam, use the whole thing, then rinse it out. Tell me it doesn't bear a striking resemblance to those glasses that can cost you three, four, five dollars a pop, or more. Just reuse every jar you buy until you've got a steady supply of glasses to drink out of. On that note, you also won't need to buy...

Storage Jars

Hey, I have a lot of these! They came free with my pasta sauce. Why IKEA and Crate & Barrel charge money for glass lidded jars is beyond me. Sure, if you need a really big storage container, you might want to buy one. But for most of your bulk storage needs, a good mason jar will do the trick. 

Cleaning Fluids

Unless you've got some heavy duty mess, you don't need to shell out on chemicals to clean your home. Vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda are time-tested substances that will disinfect and clean most bathroom and kitchen surfaces. Just mix one part water with one part vinegar or lemon juice and put it in a spray bottle: instant counter and tile cleaner. Or mix baking soda with lemon juice or vinegar and put it on a sponge for a deodorizing cleaning paste. It's way cheaper than buying the pre-bottled stuff, and much greener too. 

I'm sure there are other clever alternatives to common home products. What cheap solutions have you found to work for you?