So you have a new home to fill: Where should you shop?

Moving into a new home can be daunting, especially if you’re also on the market for new furniture for that new home. The good news is that there are plenty of options for saving money, and those options just keep getting better.

guest bedroom/home office
We found this futon at Walmart. Its black faux leather is just the right look for extra seating in a home office. Plus, it lets the room double as a guest bedroom.
  • Ask around. Most people have stuff they don’t use. From surplus silverware and china to old dining sets, if you ask enough friends and relatives, you can cobble together almost an entire household. If you have a trustworthy source, you could go so far as to get a mattress for super cheap. (Maybe even for free!) Though you shouldn’t accept upholstery without first giving it a thorough inspection. After all, your Aunt Marge might have an old sofa that she’ll give you if you’ll just come pick it up, but you might show up for it and realize it smells worse than her ash tray.
  • Go thrifting first. Spend a weekend visiting garage and estate sales, check your local Goodwill, visit flea markets. Any place that sells used items is going to have at least some of what you need for cheaper than if you were to buy it new. But thrift smart. Haggle for a lower price when possible, and don’t buy anything that’s so worn out that it’ll cost more to fix it than to buy the same thing new.

    home office/guest bedroom
    This desk is from IKEA, and the chair–believe it or not–is from Costco!
  • Buy new upholstery. Yes, coffee tables and shelving units are easy to find on the cheap and easy to fix up if they’re a little worn, but couches are a different story. Just like you should always buy mattresses and box-springs new, it’s safer to buy upholstery new. If you’re buying a ratty old thing with plans of re-upholstering, forget it. Unless you know how to do it yourself or know someone who’ll do it for cheap or even free, re-upholstering won’t save you money. Besides, old upholstery is dusty, musty, hard to clean, and possibly full of bedbugs. Safer to buy new for sure.
  • Comparison shop. Where you find the cheapest version of what you’re looking for will depend on what it is you need. Walmart’s furniture selection has gotten trendier over the years, but they still don’t have much beyond futons. Places like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond regularly have sales, but you might have to wade past stuff aimed at college kids to find the classier items. Check TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods for smaller pieces like accent chairs and storage benches as well as decor to tie a room together. Amazon, Overstock.com, and Wayfair have competitive prices, but stick to free shipping to really keep that price low. IKEA is still an excellent place to get everything you need, especially if you browse their as-is section as well as the store itself.
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Fun at the library

Yes, summer vacation is officially over, and as kids head back to school, they might need some extra help with homework, or just a safe, fun place to hang out. Luckily, the Castle Shannon Public Library is offering just that—for free!

back to school safety
The library is a great place for kids to spend time after school.

Starting at 4:30 p.m. every Wednesday, the library is hosting School Age Free Time for kids ages eight to eighteen. During this time, the library is open not just for socializing with friends, but for getting help with homework as well. So if your kids need a safe, fun place to spend a weekday afternoon, the library is the place to go.

In the same time-slot on Thursdays, the library invites kids ages ten to seventeen to participate in Fitness Frenzy. Each week will focus on a new form of exercise. No experience is needed to join in on the fun.

Here’s a bonus fact: the Castle Shannon Public Library earns money by collecting recycling. So if you have recyclables at home, take them to the library.

Back to school safety

Pittsburgh schools celebrated the start of the 2014-2015 school year this week, and there are schools and school bus stops all over the place so safety is important.

While following traffic laws such as speed limits and school zone is advisable year-round, it’s crucial now that kids are back in those school zones. Drivers: lay off the gas, keep your eyes open, obey the crossing guards, and stop when the school bus tells you to.

back to school safety
Motorists need to pay special attention in school zones and areas with school bus stops.

If you’re stopped at a 4-way intersection, you need to wait for the bus to tuck in its stop sign before you continue driving. When the kids get off at an intersection, they could be crossing the street in any direction. The bus’s stop sign is meant to stop all traffic in the area until the kids are off the street.

For your reference, here are some important spots around Prudential Communities to look out for students:

Please do your part to keep our communities safe: don’t speed, don’t text and drive, signal your turns, and keep your eyes on the road.