Empower Blog

college student using laptop in dorm
July 22, 2021

Deck Out the Dorm Room Without Breaking the Bank

College-Career Planning, Money Management
The 2021-2022 school year is quickly approaching. If you are sending a child off to college for the first time, it only takes a few minutes on Pinterest to realize how difficult it is to resist going overboard with dorm room furniture and decorations. You want your child to feel at home in their new space, but you also need to determine which items are really necessary. With some self-control, planning, and research – you can get all of the necessities, as well as a few aesthetic touches, without breaking the bank.

Take Inventory

If you know who the roommates will be, get in touch with them beforehand and split up any big purchases. There is no need – let alone space – for two fridges, microwaves, couches, and so on. You will also want to take inventory of what furniture the school has already provided. You may have all your bookshelf or dresser needs taken care of, for instance. It is also a good idea to find out what items are not allowed in the dorms. Schools have specific rules on electrical items such as hot plates and lamps, so save yourself the hassle, and money, by knowing what is banned beforehand.

Make a List – Have a Plan

Make a master list of everything you will really need to find or buy to avoid that dreaded last minute Walmart stop before you parents head out of town. Most dorms provide the basics of a bed and mattress, desk and chair, and some closet space with drawers – so you will likely want to focus on storage and décor. Look for items like furniture cubes that do double duty as storage pods and an extra place to sit. IKEA is the perfect place to shop for affordable, small space storage solutions and furniture. Just ensure your plan leaves enough room to move around!

Hit the Stores … Or Don’t

When it’s time to buy, hit resale shops and garage sales. Buying anything new might not make much sense for the college lifestyle. This stuff is going to get studied on, slept on, and spilled on. Remind your child that vintage is in.

Or don’t buy at all – look in your basement or garage for unused or lightly-used items that can be salvaged with a little cleaning or repainting. If you have got a crafty kid, encourage creative recycling for items like curtains and décor. Using materials from your house can help when it comes to homesickness, too.

If you start to unpack and realize you have forgotten something basic like a comforter or laundry basket, leave your child with some cash or gift cards and permission to figure it out. A shopping trip or two can ease those first lonely nights before classes start and even create a bonding experience with new roomies.

Do not be surprised if your kid’s first trip home ends with a trunk stuffed full of keepsakes. For many college students, it turns out that after a few months, they really do want that teddy bear or bowling trophy after all. The stress of going off to college can absolutely be overwhelming – for both parents and students – but having a plan in place and being prepared before move-in weekend is sure to ease those nerves!
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About the Author
Professional Picture of Kat Hnatyshyn
Kat Hnatyshyn

Indirect Lending Program Director

Kat Hnatyshyn currently serves as the Indirect Lending Program Director at CommunityAmerica Credit Union, overseeing the program and our partnership with approximately 160 auto and Harley Davidson dealerships throughout the Kansas City metro. This partnership gives CommunityAmerica members a smooth auto buying experience by allowing them to finance their vehicle through us, directly from the dealership.