Apartment setup

When you move in, the leasing office will give you an entry checklist. If you find any issues with the apartment, mention it in the checklist. They can be rusts, stains on the carpet, holes in the walls or cabinets provided, leakages etc. When you move out, your apartment will be checked and and you will be charged for any issues. So if they are already mentioned in the entry checklist you will not be charged for it.
The following ideas will work good who are not planning to stay for long i.e. you will be selling/throwing away your things before you leave. If you are planning to settle plan for getting quality items the first time itself.

Furniture: Buy minimum essential furniture. Also keep in mind that they should be comfortable. Do not buy a chair difficult to sit on for a long time or a bed without a good mattress. You will end up with body aches and spend on medication. Some of the essential furniture can be bed, futon, dining table, TV stand and coffee table. I found a futon to be more useful than a sofa in the living room. You can turn it into a full bed for 2 to sleep. You can expect guests anytime.
If you are planning to buy new furniture IKEA will be a reasonable store. They have their products online. However they charge for home delivery in case the bill amount is less than a certain amount. It can be checked with the store. For used furniture, check craigslist.org. You need to contact the person selling the item and pick up from specified place. There are also discount stores like Biglots that sell new furniture for a reasonable price. Walmart too sells furniture.
You will also need floor lamps on the first day of shifting to the apartment. They can be bought from IKEA/craigslist/Walmart. Walmart sells good floor lamps for $8-$10. If you are used to white lights like in India, get Daylight bulbs for the lamps. There are also Soft White bulbs available in the market which actually give yellow light.

Kitchen: A dinner set and cookware are the most important buys for your kitchen. Though you get the minimal from India, you will need some more for daily use.
During my stay, I found some good dinner sets in Biglots store. They are sold there for around $20-$30 and of good brands and appealing designs. You can also get the kitchen accessories like spatulas, salt pepper set, boxes for storage there. If there is a outlet store for Corelle dinner sets you can check that out too.
For cookware, I found a good deal at Macys. They sell their own brand, Tools of the Trade non stick cookware set for around $40. They also have their 1 day sale almost every other month when they give out a 10 off 25 coupons. So you will get this set for around $30. This is a very good deal when each piece is sold for about $10. Their coupon can be found online on their website during the sale. Try to buy the non stick sets as you need to take more care while cooking with steel utensils.

TV: You can compare prices on Amazon, Sears and Walmart. If you are in US during the Thanksgiving sale (4th week of Nov) you are lucky. There are a lot of good deals on electronics during this time.

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