The expenses of college seem to add up quickly. Your bank account is already being drained by rising tuition, books and food. Now you have to pay for housing and in addition, all the dorm stuff to go in it. Surprisingly, it’s the dorm items that can make you break bank and dip further into your savings. However, there are a few tips to saving money on dorm supplies.
First of all, get the basics down by knowing what you need and what you don’t. Figure out whether your dorm or apartment will already be furnished or if it comes with a dishwasher or not. A dorm may provide a bed, dresser, desk, and small refrigerator but an apartment may be furnished with the same items or nothing at all. If you will be sharing living space, you will also want to work out a way to share the larger items. Communicate with your roommates so that you have everything your new place needs and no duplicates. You don’t want to unpack and find out that collectively you have three microwaves but no shower curtain. By doing this, you can also facilitate a way to split the costs for an appliance and have each of you pay half.
Once you’re ready to shop, know your budget. If you don’t start working on a budget now, you will end up taking a crash course in budgeting throughout college. Buying everything new could break your already hurting bank account. Take a step back and realize that there is always someone out there trying to get rid of their old stuff. Some of which may look brand new to you. Practice networking and using your resources, whether it is catching your neighbors redecorating their living room and offering to take their couch off their hands instead of them throwing it out on the curb or visiting websites such as Ebay, Craigslist, BeatYourPrice, and Oodle to connect with people selling used items that you need. Similarly, thrift stores like St. Vincent de Paul and Goodwill sell good used items and when you purchase from there you are supporting charity work as well. Even decorating can be affordable by stopping at the art departments where they often host sales on student artwork at reasonable prices while supporting up-and-coming artists.
Consider your transportation needs as well. Is the convenience of having your own car worth what it will cost in parking fees and insurance? If your campus is small, a bike may be all you need. If you live off campus, form a carpool with friends. If the city has a bus system, take advantage of it; fares are usually reduced or free for students. The more you save outside of the dorm, the more you can afford to put in it.
A laptop has become a must-have for most college students but prices range from $500 to $5000. What kind of laptop do you really need? An expensive laptop may tempt you to play more video games, while a more basic option will work just as well for researching, writing papers and checking email. Buying refurbished can save you hundreds off the original price, and some factory-refurbished laptops even include a warranty. Like it was stated at the beginning, saving money on dorm stuff comes down to, not settling for less, but understanding what is actually needed.