4 Tips to Furnishing a Dorm Room Without Going Broke

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With shower shoes, concrete floors and compact beds, getting acclimated to dorm life can be tough. You can try to make the transition easier by purchasing furnishings that feel more like home, but minimal space paired with the financial burden of tuition, means spending a bundle on furnishing temporary quarters just isn’t practical.

Whether you are getting ready to start the next chapter of your education in college dorms, or you’re anxiously awaiting your teenager’s move into adulthood, here’s everything you need to do to save while still creating a livable dorm space.

Know what you need – and what you don’t

First things first: not everything you would purchase for a home is essential in a dorm. Here are a few things to avoid:

  • Items that are top-of-the-line
    Before purchasing expensive bedding, TVs, or laptops, consider the likelihood of something happening to these items before year-end.
  • Items that take up too much space
    Again, most dorm rooms are extremely limited when it comes to space. Avoid items that could be rented or borrowed if need be – like a vacuum.
  • Items that won’t be used on a regular basis
    Food consumed in a college dorm isn’t cooked as much as it is unwrapped and heated. So extensive kitchen ware, for instance, just isn’t a necessity. If it won’t be used consistently, it shouldn’t make your list.

Shop in the right places for the right things

It can be easy to pick one store and hope to check off everything on your list, but that’s not the most cost-effective route to take. Different stores cater to different areas of dorm room essentials.

Organization and Storage
Walmart or your local dollar store sell storage containers that will keep a tiny dorm room in order at a lower price than other big box stores.

Small Accessories
IKEA might be a nightmare to navigate, but it’s worth it once you reach the accessories. Things like picture frames and decorative posters are extremely reasonable — without looking cheap.

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Bedding and Towels
There’s not much room to show a splash of personality in a dorm room, so bedding is key. Target offers sets geared toward dorm-room living that are budget-friendly, yet durable.

Don’t stock up on everything for the entire year

What you think is a necessity at the beginning of the year might prove otherwise once school is in session. Other things might suddenly become a must-have halfway through the year. Therefore, spending a bundle to stock up on everything beforehand isn’t practical – from both a budgetary and logistical standpoint.

Buy the things that are necessary to make your room complete and livable with the idea that you may need to revisit making some purchasing a few weeks or months into the school year. This will also ensure your space isn’t filled to the brim with stuff and no place to actually live.

Take advantage of your student status

Before you agree to pay full price, make sure you know all of the discounts available to those with a college student status.

Here are just a few:

PBteen: Receive 10% off your order with a valid college ID or .edu email address.
Amazon: Receive 50% off Amazon Prime (which includes free, two-day shipping).
Sam’s Club: Collegiate membership offers savings geared towards students, plus a $15 gift card when you sign up.
Best Buy: Students have access to several exclusive tech deals by signing up for their email list.
Target: If you spend $100, you can save $25 off eligible dorm-related purchases by using the promo code COLLEGE.

In addition, if you’re doing most of your shopping online, make sure to check out Upromise. This unique site offers cash back on eligible purchases to be applied towards tuition and other college costs.

With college costs already at an all-time high and increasing annually, spending a significant amount on things to fill new, cramped living quarters isn’t the way to go. Now is the time to be diligent with limited funds – and the dorm is the best place to start.

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