We here at SoYouWanna.net are very practical (translation: we're tightwads), and we understand that most of you can't afford a shopping spree at Pottery Barn. That said, we'd like to clue you in on a few tried-and-true money-saving methods. Don't worry, they're all perfectly legal.

Finagle freebies

We mentioned it before, and we'll say it again: get as much as you possibly can for free. Check out the recliner that's collecting dust in your uncle's garage. Convince your parents to buy a new couch so you can have their old one. Ask Grandma what she does with her old curtains (you know she doesn't throw those things away, so follow her up to the attic and take a peek). Find out if your school or office is looking to unload a halfway-decent desk. You get the idea. You can also wake up before the garbage men on trash day. Hey, we didn't say getting something for nothing would be pretty.

Take a trip to the thrift shop

Remember the old grade school insult, "Where did you get your outfit, the Salvation Army?" Well, now that can be taken as a compliment. Now that retro is cool, there's no better place to scope out blissfully ugly '70s lamps than your local thrift shop - especially if you've chosen "Eclectic" or "Kitsch" as your theme. Knickknacks, vases, framed pictures - they're all there. It's also a great place to get furniture. Couches, for example, go for as little as forty bucks. If you're sceeved out by the idea of sitting on someone else's sofa (because God only knows what that baby has been through), seek professional help for your paranoia. Better yet, get it cleaned or re-upholstered, or try covering it up with a colorful sheet to make it look like new.

Be a garage sale groupie

Every neighborhood has them, and now you'll get to see what all the fuss is about. Garage sales (a.k.a. yard sales or tag sales) have a lot of the same finds that thrift stores have, and sometimes the stuff is even cheaper. You may have to haggle ("Forty dollars for this? I'll give you a buck and a half."), but it's worth it. Go early, before the crowd shuffles in and gets all the good crap.

Outfit your bathroom at the 99-cent store

If you buy your bathroom stuff from a department store, we can't be your friends anymore. It hurts too much to see someone pay ten times the price. Dollar stores (or even better, 99-cent stores) are the only logical choice for items like shower curtains, toothbrush holders, soap dishes, waste paper baskets, bath mats, etc. They won't literally be 99 cents each (false advertising to lure you in), but they'll be dirt cheap and well worth the seedy atmosphere.

Dress your windows at the discount store

Places like Kmart, Wal-Mart and Target have the best window treatments around, hands down. Whether it's curtains, rods, blinds or shades, look no further than your favorite mass-market megastore. Great selection, ridiculously low prices, and blue light specials left and right. You can't beat it.

Buy furniture you assemble yourself

You may be surrounded by planks of fake wood and assorted nuts and bolts for a couple of hours, but you do what you have to do to save a buck. Places like IKEA and the aforementioned discount stores offer an array of inexpensive pieces that come in boxes and require assembly. The quality of the furniture isn't always premium, but it will look just fine and last you a few years - which is probably the amount of time it will take you to be able to afford the better stuff. You can get dressers, bookcases, kitchen tables, entertainment centers, you name it. Isn't life grand? If you're weary of wielding tools, recruit a couple of handy friends. Buy them a pizza or something.

Don't purchase pricey pictures

Why buy an expensive framed picture when you get the same effect for a fraction of the cost? Simply buy a print from a poster shop, then buy a frame from a discount store. Voila! Instant chic.

Seek out knockoffs

This is one of our favorites. Go to stores that are out of your price range and scout out looks you really dig. Nine times out of ten, you can get them cheaper somewhere else. Like that metallic trash can at Urban Outfitters? There's a similar one at Target. Cool wrought iron magazine rack at Pier One? We saw the same one at Odd Job. Great oriental tapestry at the museum shop? Hang up a sheet of funky, Far Eastern-inspired material instead, courtesy of the local fabric store. O.K., we'll shut up now.

And now your new apartment is decorated, and you have enough money left over to throw together a little shindig! But don't forget to invite us to that party. We're dying to see your place.