Ways to Save on College Dorm Room Shopping

Ways to Save on College Dorm Room Shopping

Heading to a dorm for the first time? It can be overwhelming to think about the items you need to stock up on for move-in day. Below are some ways to make the process smoother and easier on your budget.

Research Your Dorm

Most colleges have the dimensions and details of an average dorm room posted on their website. This information is important to help determine what items you actually need to buy. For example, if the dorms are air conditioned, you might not need to buy a window fan. Some schools provide pictures or a list of furniture that’s in each room. Checking this information can keep you from wasting money on things you don’t need or won’t work in your room, like bed risers or under-bed storage.

Look for Sales and Freebies

Most department stores hold sales and promotional events throughout the spring and summer on items that are generally purchased by college students. Some stores offer a discount to students with the use of a student ID card. Make sure to check weekly ads and flyers for items like bedding and towels.

Buy Over Time

Stores typically only discount a few select items, usually for a week at a time. For instance, one week towels may be on sale and the next, there may be a special offer on sheets. Instead of waiting to buy the bulk of what you need in one or two shopping trips, start looking early for items you are going to need when they are on sale.

Wait to purchase

When shopping before arriving at school, you may be tempted to buy everything and anything in the back-to-school section. However, if you wait to purchase items until after you’ve actually moved in, you can save money that would have been spent on items you may not need.


While many college dorm shopping lists include the items below, many times students don’t end up using them very often; therefore, they end up being a waste of money. Some of these items include:

Alarm Clocks – In today’s world, almost every student uses the alarm on their phone, and a separate alarm clock just takes up space that could be used for something else.

Printers – Most universities have printers throughout campus buildings and give students a printing allowance each semester, as well as offer low-cost printing once you’ve used your designated number of pages. In addition, many professors prefer students to submit assignments online, making a personal printer unnecessary.

Luggage – Most small dorm rooms don’t have space to store luggage. Try using duffle bags that can be folded and put in a closet or even storage containers that can double as drawers.

Metal Silverware – While most meals can be eaten in the cafeteria, every now and then you may heat up dinner in the microwave. While metal silverware is reusable and better for the environment, you may not have a clean and easily accessible place to wash and dry dishes. For the few times you’ll be using forks and spoons, plastic is the best and easiest option. If you’re concerned about the environmental impact, check out biodegradable or wooden disposable silverware for a slightly higher price.

Determine your priorities

Decide what items you’re realistically going to use the most and what is most important for you to have. Some students may spend more on décor, while others are fine living with white walls and a few pictures. If you know you’re never going to iron your clothes while at college, don’t waste your money on an iron or small ironing board. You’ll likely be able to borrow it from a friend on the few occasions you’ll need it. Think about the items you already use on a daily basis and decide what you won’t be able to live without in your new home away from home.

Good luck with school. As the year unfolds, you may encounter more financial situations where you might want to learn more before making a decision. No worries – we’ve got your back. Check out our  WalletWorks page for more money management tips and resources.

Learn why you should consider switching to a credit union.

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