Spending Money Wisely on Dorm Essentials

By Kaitlin Hurtado on August 29, 2021

This article is brought to you by GradGuard. We protect college students and their families from the financial risks of college life, like providing a refund for tuition or replacing a stolen backpack when your school may not. When the unexpected happens, GradGuard’s tuition insurance and renters insurance can help you get back on track.

If there is one thing most people can agree on, it’s that a college education doesn’t come cheap. There always seems to be something you are having to pay for — tuition fees every semester, rent, textbooks, you name it. If you’re an incoming freshman, one of the first things that you are going to find yourself having to spend money on is getting all your dorm essentials. Your move to your college dorm is likely going to be your first venture outside of your family home. Meaning, you are going to be starting with the bare minimum of belongings as you move into your own space for the first time. The task of getting everything you need for your move into a college dorm can be overwhelming, especially when you have to consider maintaining a budget.

However, there are still plenty of ways you can save your money wisely while shopping for dorm essentials. Keep reading for tips on saving money on the move into your college dorm.

Photo: Pexels

Plan what you need to buy

Any shopping endeavor is going to be made easier when you have a list to guide you along the way. Before you start spending any money, make a cohesive list of things you will need that you can use to plan your budget and avoid impulse buys. Start from larger, basic categories and work your way down.

- Bedding (pillows, comforters, sheets, mattress toppers)

- Clothing/Laundry (hampers, laundry bags, hangers)

- Bathroom items (towels, shower caddy)

- Electronics (fan, vacuum, printer, power strips, mini-fridge, microwave, desk lamp)

- School supplies (notebooks, laptop, dry erase board, stick notes, writing utensils)

If you are already in contact with your roommate, try planning what you are able to share between the two of you so that you can save money on more pricey items like a mini-fridge or printer.

Take advantage of back-to-school shopping

Who said back-to-school shopping ended after high school? In the months before your big move-in day, you will find countless deals geared toward college students moving into their college living spaces. This is the best time to grab your dorm essentials as these are the exact items that are going to be having deals, from a shower caddy and towels to your new dorm bedding.

Don’t be afraid to shop secondhand

Obviously, you aren’t the only one that has to shop for dorm essentials. Years and years of college students before you have also found themselves having to buy the same exact items. Items that they had plenty of use for during their time dorming may not be as useful not that they’ve moved out. Luckily for you, that means you can often find secondhand dorm essentials from students looking to make some quick money on items they only really needed to survive their time in the dorms — fans, printers, mini-fridges, small vacuums, hampers, etc.

Whether they don’t want to go through the trouble of storing it until they might need it next, or they have roommates that already own the same items, students will often try to re-sell these items rather than tossing or donating them. Join Facebook groups for your college that are meant for students to connect to sell and buy anything from textbooks to household goods. Because students often spend less than an entire year in the dorms, the items are typically left in good condition despite coming secondhand.

Wait until you actually need an item 

It’s all too easy to get lost in the whirlwind that is moving out on your own for the first time. If it’s not your parents saying you need anything and everything, or the countless welcome-to-college guides detailing everything you need, you may be worried that you’re going to move in your dorm missing the one thing you’ll actually need. This may leave you overspending, spending all too much money on things you really won’t even end up using. Sure, your cousin may have used it for their own dorm experience, or you may have read it in a shopping guide for college freshmen, but there are things you can afford to wait on.

Unless you find a shopping deal you just can’t turn down, wait until you’re settled into the dorm for your last-minute shopping. For example, you may be considering buying a set of cooking utensils, pots, and pans to cook in the communal dorm kitchen because you can just sense you are going to get sick of dining hall food all too soon. However, just wait until you are actually living in the dorms. You may find that a roommate or hallmate has those same items that they are willing to share on the rare occasion you actually want to cook. Or, you may find that you just don’t want to cook at all and those items would be unused if you had ended up buying them.

An added bonus of waiting until you’re in your dorm to buy an item is having one less thing to worry about packing and moving into your new living space.

There is no perfect one-size-fits-all approach to shopping dorm essentials, but there are definitely ways you can save money in a time where there seem to be no options but to spend money.

It’s no secret that college costs a lot of money. Make sure your investment in higher education is protected with GradGuard. Our affordable tuition insurance and renters insurance plans are specifically designed for college students. Customizable plans make it easy to protect your tuition, room and board, laptop, bike, and so much more.

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