Google will give you 72,800,000 results when you search “what to bring to college.”
You don’t need that much stuff. I promise you.
It’s very easy to get swept up in the excitement of college that you end up buying more than you need. But if there are so many ways to get cheap and awesome things. I spent most of my senior year compiling stuff for cheap so by the time I moved in, I’d already gotten most of my items. So here are a few tips to save while you shop for dorm room items!
Look around the house.
You probably have a lot of stuff in your room already that you can simply reuse. I brought my comforter even though it was technically a full size, so I just bought twin XL bedsheets. I used ottoman and all my desk stuff. I know it’s a time to reinvent yourself, but you don’t have to buy a trendy throw pillow right now if you don’t want to.
Strategically ask for gifts you’ll actually need.
If you know that you really want a new laptop, a piece of art, a printer, or any other expensive thing, ask for it for a birthday or holiday. You can tell different people different things, or everyone the same thing for a huge purchase. My friend spent a year asking for only Apple gift cards so she could save up for a laptop. If you know what you want to buy, try asking for it from others so people can get you things you’ll really use.
Take advantage of thrift stores.
Even Macklemore goes thrift shopping. This is the best place to get some of the random things you need. For example, you’ll probably only need one or two plates/bowls/cups/sets of silverware for your first dorm room. You can buy each for $1 at a thrift store, and pass them down to your siblings or donate them when you’re done.
Ask siblings for stuff.
If you’re lucky enough to have an older sibling, ask for their stuff. If they had plates or twin XL sheets, ask for them! As I went through school, I kept giving my siblings things like my single plates and cups, to an entire set of pots and pans when I left my college apartment.
Bring one season of clothes at a time.
Okay, you don’t need a tank top in winter. You don’t need snow boots in May. Only bring a season of clothes (and a couple extra things just in case) at a time. This can help you save on storage or shipping. You can always switch out your wardrobe during breaks or visits home.
Always ask your roommate what they’re bringing.
I kid you not, I know a pair of roommates who both showed up with a futon on move-in day. They didn’t know what to do, so they had two futons in their room all year. So please ask your roommate what they have and what they want to bring. If they already have a mini-fridge, don’t buy one. If you have a TV, bring it so they don’t buy it. It saves you both and makes splitting things at the end of the year very easy.
Avoid the superstores on move-in weekend.
They all know that the college students are arriving then. It’s an absolute madhouse. Bring everything you can and save your first trip for after that weekend. If you’re lucky enough to move in early, get everything you can before everyone else arrives. If you’re traveling far to school, I wish you luck.
Once you get there: get the free stuff!
Move-in weekend usually has lots of branded giveaways with cups and shirts and other things. Also, at the end of the year, hoards of college students give away the stuff they don’t want to take home. We decided to designate our laundry room as the area to offer up free stuff to your neighbors, and then the RAs donated everything that wasn’t gone when finals were over. I got so much stuff that I still use now.
Anticipate your extra costs.
Do you really need your car? Sometimes it’s really easy to get by without one. Since parking passes can get expensive, make sure you know if you need to bring it before just bringing it. Your room may already come with cable, so you may not need to splurge for that.
Do you have any ideas for scoring cheap stuff for a dorm room or college? Comment it or share it with me in a message!
Hi, I'm Riley! I graduated from college in December 2016, after working to earn over $100,000 in scholarships and aid.