Beat the higher costs of living by buying at auction

Save money and buy quality big-ticket items – and more – by bidding on auctions.

The high costs of living: it’s probably one of the most commonly heard phrases at the moment. Over the last year or so, many news outlets have reported that the economic downturn is affecting household spending.  

Higher cost of living pressures are affecting behaviour and this will be impacted further in coming months. The ABC reported a year ago that “People are holding off on buying big-ticket items like couches as spending pressures bite” (ABC News: Kate Ainsworth and Emilia Terzon, Wed 15 March 2023). Again in December, The Sydney Morning Herald reported a similar story saying “….shoppers have cut spending on big ticket discretionary items such as electronics, furniture and other household goods.” (Sydney Morning Herald: Matt Wade). That trend has not changed. Just a few days ago, Forbes reported that “discretionary spending fell 0.7%—the third decline in as many months—as consumers cut back on clothing and footwear, goods for recreation and culture and furniture, floor coverings and household items“. (, Johanna Leggatt, May 2024)

So what does this mean for people moving home?  How can people set themselves up with the essentials and furnish their home at a better rate than retail (without taking a massive chunk out of their savings or their credit cards)?

You won’t just find antiques at public auction!

A common misconception is that auction houses only sell antiques or older style items – that’s simply not the case”, said Tom Farrelly, Auction Manager at Abbeys Auctions.  “We hold Furniture and Estate auctions and Modern Living auctions on a weekly basis. Both contain high quality modern furniture from retailers looking to clear stock to make way for new product lines.  The best thing for buyers is that they can win an item at auction and have it in their homes the same day!

We have many items auctioned weekly that are in near new condition. Big ticket items, such as couches and dining tables are readily available and are being sold at a fraction of their original price.

With that in mind, we put the auction team to the test – to pick out quality items in an upcoming auction for less than $2500 that can furnish a small house. 

All items were found in a recent Abbeys Auctions Weekly Furniture & Estate Auction. If you’re not in a hurry, taking your time to find the right items is the way to go, and you don’t have to wait long given that auctions are held weekly.    

What we found: 14 ‘big-ticket’ items needed to furnish a home

ItemDescriptionApprox RRPAbbeys
sold price
FridgeFisher & Paykel upside down stainless steel two door refrigerator1800180
MicrowaveSanyo Microwave Oven20020
Washing MachineAEG Electolux Lavamat washing machine1500150
DryerElectrolux sensor dry 5kg dryer40090
TelevisionLG 75″ Smart TV Model No. 75UJ75T1395400
CouchPair of Dover two seater light blue fabric upholstered couches2698350
Coffee TableModern stained pine coffee table25040
Entertainment UnitModern black entertainment unit with two bi-fold doors and two drawers349150
Buffet Modern dark stained hardwood buffet with 4 drawers and 4 doors1000100
Dining room Table and ChairsBlackwood 9 piece dining suite with cream fabric upholstered dining chairs2500220
Chest of DrawersOriental style chest of 6 drawers with black ring handles30080
Bedside Tables2 x Oriental style 2 drawer bedside tables10060
Art / PaintingFramed mixed media on canvas of girl in vibrant tones, unsigned 97 x 97cm.10050

After adding the buyers’ commission, this haul of items came in at $2343.60:  that’s $156.40 under budget – and a massive estimated $10,000 of savings compared to purchasing similar items brand new in retail stores!

Images of the items found in a recent Weekly Furniture & Estates auction (microwave image is missing)

Stock Changes every week

With the money saved on these big-ticket items there just might be room in the budget to bid on cutlery, dinner settings, lamps, rugs, lawnmowers…. the list is endless, and as stock changes every week, you never know what you’ll find!  Abbeys also holds regular Unclaimed Goods auctions that include brand new ‘in the box’ items such as vacuum cleaners and dinner sets, amongst a host of other treasures!

The Modern Living auctions also enable savvy shoppers to own designer furniture at a fraction of the price. Whilst small, often having under 100 items in each auction, items in these auctions have seen minimal, if any use. They can be bought and picked up on the same day in many cases – no waiting periods to have your treasures delivered!

With the cost of living impacting households every day, and with the doom and gloom of recession in coming months very much on the agenda, auction houses provide a fantastic alternative – there’s value to be found with an ever-changing stock rotation weekly – not to mention saving items that may otherwise end up in landfill.

Abbeys is open for in-person viewing every Thursday, at 80 – 86 Highbury Road, Burwood and all auctions are held online, with several photos available of every item.  Visit