Instead of wasting what money you do have on crap at expensive stores, hit the local ones.
The Plaza District is a perfect spot to start the hunt. First up: Bad Grannys Bazaar (1759 N.W. 16th; 528-4585). Like other vintage stores, theres a lot of variety, from fantastic Southwest-style chunky rings for around $20 to a vintage brass peacock mounted on wood for just $12.
I liked the brightly painted ceramics from Mexico. There are small pots (to hold office supplies) and light covers for around $6 and fun Dia de los Muertos skeleton tiles for just $2.
Bad Grannys has a ton of clothing. I fell in love with a black sequined minidress for $45, but a lot of it is really reasonable, like soft, 50s-style cardigans for around $10 and a cool knee-length plaid wool pencil skirt for just $8. A steal, right?
Around the corner at RetrOKC (1609 N. Blackwelder; 922-9981), look for vintage decor and amazing furniture, but it can be a bit pricey on a super-tight budget. I found a cool, white egg chair for just $25, but other pieces may run about $100 or more.
No more lavender carpet last popular in 1989!
For the kitchen, check out the retro glasses and cups. I loved the set of four During my freshman year of college, I lived across the street from an Urban Outfitters. Like, literally across the street. This did not bode well for my Busch Bavarian beer glasses featuring a guitar and the unforgettable tagline Toe-tapping goodness, for $20. For something cheaper, check out the set of six small coffee mugs with a 60s kitchen motif for only $12. There are also vintage serving bowls with glass lids (think what Grandma brought the potato salad over in) that range from about $12 to $30.
My favorite, however, were the vintage glasses (the kind you wear on your face). You could keep the frames and swap out the lenses with your own prescription. The variety of frames start at just $2.
Dont rule out garage sales. My roommate and I furnished and decorated our first apartment with such finds. With imagination, you can turn any old thing into something really fun. Example: In my house, an abomination of a chandelier in the dining room became an amazingly bright, retro-esque piece with a can of chartruese spray paint and a clear lacquer coat. (One note when using spray paint: Theyre not effing around with the whole only use in well-ventilated areas caution.)
You can find garage and estate sales on Craigslist. Just head out with an open mind. And maybe some hand sanitizer.