9 Dorm Room Budgeting Tips

August 11, 2016 : Allie Freeland


Headed off to college soon? With tuition on the rise at many colleges around the country, it’s important to feel in control of your expenses outside of the classroom. Here is how to snag your dorm room essentials on a budget so you have plenty of cash left over for late-night snacks and fun with friends!

1 – Come with a Plan.

Minimize the time you spend in-store and make a list of everything you need. Most colleges offer a list of dorm room items – so check with them before you start your list from scratch.

2 – Download Cost-Saving Apps.

You do not want to scavenge through a store for hours to find the best deal. Do yourself a favor and download an app or two! Apps like EbatesRetailMeNotCoupons.comFlipp or Amazon Price Check are great resources for dorm room shopping.

3 – Split the Cost.

Dorm rooms are not known for being spacious or luxurious, so save square footage and cash by coordinating with your roomie before you move into the dorms. If one of you brings the mini-fridge and the other brings the TV, you’ll have more room for the fun stuff – décor, bean bag chairs, or even a futon!

4 – Use the Buddy System.

For décor like rugs, curtains and pillows, consider scheduling a shopping trip with your roommate. It offers a great opportunity to bond and will allow you to pick out stuff that you both like.

5 – Do It Yourself.

Resist the urge to buy everything new. It will leave you broke and with the same stuff that everyone else has. Spend some time fantasizing about what you’d do with your dorm room, if you could afford to buy whatever you wanted. Flip through your favorite magazines and catalogs or surf the web to really nail down that image. Then, once you have your wish list, go around your parents’ house and see how much of it you can make happen. Often the difference between what you have and what you want comes as a quick fix. Reinvent your belongings with paint, fabric and a creative eye. This is your chance to create dorm accessories that really show off your personality.

6 – Get Thrifty.

Thrift stores are a great source for cheap sofas, desk chairs, storage containers and lamps, and they often offer student discounts. If you prefer to buy new, many big-box stores, including Bed Bath & Beyond offer “scan and send” programs where you can scan the items you want at a store near your home and have them waiting for you at the store closest to your school.

7 – Wait to Shop.

Want to save even more? Schedule your shopping trip for a few weeks after school starts. By then, dorm furnishings and décor will be on clearance, and you’ll pay considerably less than the original cost. Plus, you can avoid the hassle of hauling large items from home by buying them once you get to school.

8 – Check for Student Discounts.

There are hundreds of retailers that offer a special discount to students. Check out this list of essential items from The Simple Dollar.

9 – Ask Around.

Still have some things on your wish list? Let your friends and family know what you’re looking for. The item on your wish list could be in their basement or attic. Think of how cool it would be to furnish your dorm room with things that remind you of all of your favorite people!

Kick off an epic new school year without breaking the bank. It is possible. Just follow the above strategies and you will be on your way to big savings!

Related Topics

Allie Freeland

Allie Freeland

Contributing Editor, H&R Block

Allie is the Contributing Editor of the H&R Block blog, Block Talk. She has been a practicing grammar geek since 2007.

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