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Getting the Best Bang for Your Buck: Dorm Room Shopping

Dorm room shopping season is here, which may cue overwhelming stress or joy. Whether you’re the student excited for college or the parent sad about becoming an empty nester, there’s one thing we can all agree on: Dorm room shopping can add up fast.

As a rising freshman at the University of Missouri, here’s some financial tips I’ve picked up to ensure your home on campus fits your style and comfort needs (without breaking the bank!).

1. Develop and stick to a budget.

Incoming dorm residents should budget their dorm expenses. Plan a course of action with your family and roommate(s) with plenty of time to follow suit. These key questions need to be answered:

  • Are there dorm room items you already own? No need to spend your hard-earned money on sheets or towels if you can transfer these items from home.
  • Who’s paying for what? Break up the financial responsibilities between the parties, so that there aren’t unnecessary duplicates of expensive items. Not only will multiples of dorm items be more expensive, but they will also take up more space.
  • Is it better to spend a large sum of money at once or spread it throughout the summer?

2. Decide what means most.

Most dorm rooms are tiny, especially with multiple people living in them. Though decorations can help accentuate your small space, be aware of the space. Only bring your essentials and the decorations that make you happiest. Limiting how much you’re willing to bring to college will help keep your college budget frugal while also keeping your dorm room uncluttered.

3. Don’t spend more on big items than you must.

Utilize Craigslist, thrift stores, garage sales and Facebook Marketplace for big budget items like refrigerators and microwaves. Why spend money on a new mini fridge when you can hit up Facebook Marketplace for a year-old fridge for half the price?

The trick with buying used is to be patient. If you don’t see your item of choice the first time you check, keep visiting. I purchased a stainless-steel lamp at Goodwill for a mere $6 and a mini vacuum cleaner for $10. Granted, you won’t always find steals when thrifting, but you shouldn’t doubt the power of a good thrift.

4. Download automatic coupon extensions to your computer.

Don’t like coupon and promo hunting? No problem — browser extensions like Honey and Amazon Assistant automatically search and apply discounts when online shopping. 

Shortcuts like these have saved me big time with online shopping. However, don’t expect a deal on every purchase.

Going to college is one of life’s most daunting milestones. However, with budgeting and planning, money and stress can be saved in the process.


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