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5 Tips for Financially Savvy Dorm Shopping

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According to a recent HGTV survey, nearly a quarter of college families plan to spend over $500 on dorm decorations. 


Here’s how to save money on dorm room decorations and necessities: 


Electronics such as TVs, tablets, and laptops


For the photojournalism school I recently graduated from, we needed expensive photo gear and a laptop. I started out borrowing photography equipment from school. Then, I waited until Black Friday in November to buy the equipment for a lower price. 


I saved almost $800 dollars on two prime lenses from Canon at B&H that can be resold at similar price to what I bought them for after use. I sold a lens after graduation on Instagram and the student can look for things to sell online in order to buy electronics needed for college. You can also sell equipment by posting flyers on campus for the next batch of students. 


Best Buy and B&H offers price matching guarantees, which means you are guaranteed the best prices on electronics here. You just have to show them proof of lower prices elsewhere for them to reduce the price.


Lamps and other lighting


Thrift Shops and garage sales can be a good way of saving the environment, getting something unique, and saving money at the same time. You can do an internet search for stores in the area near campus. You can also call ahead to student government or student life offices to ask other students for recommendations. 


IKEA, Target, and Bed, Bath and Beyond are popular and inexpensive places for students to get lamps and other furniture. In New York, IKEA blue bags are the most popular laundry bag. Free shuttle operate in Brooklyn and a boat shuttle helps students in Manhattan bring their items back form Red Hook, Brooklyn to their dorms across Manhattan.


New bedding


Bed, Bath and Beyond is a great place for cheap bedding, and you can google the store adding coupons with the search. When I bought my bedding there I found a 20% discount coupon that was added on top of the sales they already had. The set was already on sale for $40 off. A comforter and pillow cases cost me $48. 


Storage bins/shelving


Furniture such as tables, desks, and chairs can easily be bought at IKEA or in a thrift shop. Teaching your student about thrift shopping helps them with saving money on items and clothes they may need while you aren’t there such as clothing. 


You can also reach out to resident assistants in the dorms on campus to see if last year’s students may have flyers up to sell their furniture. I bought my furniture from the student who lived in my room before me and only spent $100 for a chair, a desk, a lamp, and a bed.


For storage, I bought plastic bins I could slide underneath my bed. Other people I know bought plastic cubes. Keep in mind 


Look for student prices and discount clubs


Apple even has discounts on iPads for students.  I always ask about student discounts in all my favorite stores and restaurants. You never know which ones will offer your student an extra 10 percent off.


To eliminate the guesswork, consider getting them a Student Advantage membership. For $30 per year, they’ll have access to hundreds of discounts including discounts on bus rides to travel home.


Speaking of discounts, don’t forget to get a small fridge that can hold breakfast foods. As opposed to other items your student needs, this is one that directly reduces your costs. Substituting a few dining hall breakfasts per week that may cost $8 or more with breakfasts that cost $2 can easily make up the cost of all dorm room furnishings. 


5 Takeaways

  • Dorm decorations can add $500 or more to college costs.
  • Buying a small fridge can save students so much on breakfast versus dining hall breakfasts that it can up the price of all dorm decorations.
  • Ask for price matching on electronics and student discounts on nearly everything whenever possible.
  • Consider the student’s actual space when purchasing items. Otherwise, you could buy items that are unnecessary or don’t fit.
  • Take your student thrift store shopping. Not only does it save money, but it teaches them positive habits about the environment and spending. 

Edmit's advice helps you to be better off after graduation.

  • Merit and financial aid estimates based on your student profile
  • Earnings estimates and financial scores for your college and major
  • Recommendations to save thousands on college

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