Last year about this time I was finishing up my exams, getting ready to graduate and shopping for my dorm room. I know, it’s crazy to start shopping in May but I am so glad I did. I ended up saving a lot of money by shopping early. As a lot of my friends and I were getting ready to head to college and I realized I had a lot of money and time-saving tips that I was sharing with them. So, I am writing this post now because these are all things that I did that helped me while preparing to go off to college. I know this may be a lot but I hope at least one can help someone. Enjoy!
- Like I said, start shopping NOW. I know I had a LONG list of things I needed to buy for my room. By starting to shop early, by the end of the summer I only had a few things left to get. Also by starting early, I didn’t have to fight any crowds or worry about a store not having what I wanted.
- Buy on the sales/always look for a sale. Don’t wait until the last-minute for some things because a lot of the stores will jack up prices of items that they know students will buy. By buying early, you won’t have to worry about the price being too high. Also keep your eye out for a sale price. I feel that buying items on a sale is self-explanatory.
- Compare prices. Take a day to window shop and write down prices of items and then come back, reevaluate and see what store has the best price for what. If you keep track of prices early on, when you do find a sale for something you can be confident in your purchase because you have a list of the prices. Real life example: I wrote down the price of hangers because I wanted to get new, matching ones. Hangers were the best price at Dollar Tree but then one day Target had a better sale price with many colors. I had a running list of prices in my phone so when I saw a much better deal at Target (with pretty colors) I was able to buy them. Protip: Hangers are not the cheapest things. If you want to save money I would suggest using your hangers from home. This will save money but also space when you have to move clothes back home.
- Don’t go by the “everything you will need in college” lists. Like I said in my posts
THE TEN THINGS I COULDN’T SURVIVE FRESHMAN YEAR WITHOUT and THE FIVE THINGS I WISH I HADN’T BOUGHT MY FRESHMAN YEAR, there were things that I bought that I am SO glad I did and also things I bought that I never used. Be realistic. Yes you will need a few different towels in case you don’t do laundry every week but I promise you, you do not need five towels. (I thought this was a good purchase but I never needed five bath towels. However, they were a good deal so it’s fine) Protip: Lists like “The Best College Packing List EVER” can be a good start but I would suggest going through the list and edit it to fit you best. I promise you do not need everything on that list.
- Go for comfort over looks. You can save a good bit of money if you buy just a single color bedspread, towels, etc. I know I had friends who bought designer bed spreads for $100+. I got mine from Walmart. It was just a simple black and gray spread that for $15. If you have the money, great but this is one way to save it if you want. Plus, a lot of students will move out of the dorm room by their sophomore year so they paid a lot of bedding that was only used one year. Protip: Most dorm rooms have Twin XL beds. This is different from just twin bedding. Make sure to take special note on that. This is also why it may be important to but something simpler for the first year because most apartments will have Full beds and a Twin bedspread may not fit the best.
Protip2: If you chose to buy a simpler bedspread, you can dress it up more with some pillows! Stores such as Target, TJMaxx and Walmart have many different kinds of pillows for good prices. This can make your bed cute but also budget friendly.
- Bring items from home. I brought a desk lamp, fan, jewelry holder, storage bins, coffee mugs, travel mugs and more from home. If you have it, bring it! Chances are you won’t miss it in your room at home since you will be living somewhere else. You can always bring the items back home for Winter break too. This will save you money from not purchasing things you already own. This tip will also help you when you move back home for the summer as well. When I moved home I had to find spaces for the items I had doubles of and space was very limited!
- Storage is key. This one I am actually torn on. Storage is a must for organization in your room but you could over buy. I bought an over the door shoe hanger, but with the way my closet was set up I couldn’t hang it. Also, by the end of unpacking my room I realized I didn’t even need it because I didn’t have any stuff to store! It is all about being thrifty with your space. Make sure to know what you are working with and even plan it out beforehand. I made a list of where things were going to go before I even got to school. Protip: Most school’s will have the dorm’s amenities such as dresser, bookshelf, desk, etc on their website so you just have to check and see what your room has. It is always good to have a game plan for storage.
- Save your receipts. When I started shopping, I made a folder that I kept all of my move-in information/dorm information/receipts. If you save your receipts, you will be able to return the things that you don’t use OR if you find a better deal on something you can just return the other items.
- Along with saving your receipts, save the packaging too. When move in came, the same over the door shoe holder that I didn’t need I had already thrown away the packaging so I couldn’t return it. I ended up giving it to my mom and she uses it now so crisis adverted but, if you save the receipts and packagings you will have a fuss-free return at most stores. Again, I feel any dollar saved (or refunded) is good.
- Check with your suite mates. You can spilt things! You probably don’t need 2 vacuums. Last year, we shared a vacuum with our suitemates. You may even be able to split a microwave, Keruig, etc just as long as they are fine with you (or them) using it when the other is not present in your room. If you are sharing, I guess it requires you to be become friends really quickly but there is not a better bonding experience than sharing a vacuum!! (Shoutout to Danielle and Josie for sharing their vacuum all year. They rock)
- Make lists. I had so many lists made for things I needed to buy, pack, return, etc. I had one notebook that I wrote down all my lists in. It was also handy to keep track of prices, times, dates, things to do, etc. I know everyone handles lists differently but to me they were lifesavers.
- Look for college events. Stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond hold a college student event during the summer where if you signed up you could go to BBB and get exclusive deals and coupons for the store. BBB always has 20% coupons in the mail so I would ALWAYS recommend using those. Here they even have a sweepstakes you can enter to win prizes. Protip: Most stores will have big college sales in late July, early August. Here is one link I found for the BBB events. Check and see if your state has one here.
- Go local. Most universities will have college Facebook groups. Amongst these are many “Free and For Sale” pages. If you live close to your school, or another university, maybe join those pages to see what students are selling. There are so many fridges, TVs, futons, microwaves, etc sold on those pages for MUCH cheaper than buying them brand new. If you don’t care about used appliances I would say check these pages out. Most students are pretty honest about if something is wrong with them too because they are trying to get a little extra cash for the summer.
- Buy school supplies, but don’t go crazy. Many classes in college will not require certain notebooks, folders, etc as some did in high school. My biggest tip here is to go ahead and buy some school supplies during the big sales in August. I bought folders, a 5-subject notebook, and some other miscellaneous items. My fall semester I used the five folders for my classes however; during Spring semester I used a binder and five dividers. The way you take/store notes will probably change throughout the semesters because of how differently classes are set up. So I would say stick to the basics here. Protip: Wait until after the first week of class to set up any folder or binders. I always find myself writing on folders with markers only to never use the folder and feel that I can’t use it for another subject because I wrote on it. A tip is to use sticky notes to write what subject it is. If it turns out you didn’t need it, a folder is not wasted and can be reused. Also, see if you can get a feel for the class within that week or ask the professor what the paperwork will be like. If worksheets or handouts are used a lot a binder may be the best option but if it is just notes a notebook may suffice. This is totally personal preference.
- My last tip is just to be smart. I know that money is not a worry for some but for me I tried to be as frugal as possible. I think I had everything I needed for my freshman year and I know I saved a good bit of money. You want to be comfortable your freshman year so get what makes YOU comfortable in your room. These are just my tips incase you want to save a few dollars along the way.
Well, if you have made it to the end of this post I thank you for reading all of my tips! I have enjoyed writing these posts so far. I just have lots to share.
For next week I am thinking about sharing my experience from last semester about taking all “no technology” classes. I actually liked not using my computer more than I thought I would so be on the lookout for that post.