Smart Dorm Shopping: How Not to Go Bankrupt as You Start Your Studies
Updated: May 12
September is fast approaching, and even though first-year college students are not yet busy with their studies, they do have a lot on their minds. The majority of them are moving out of their parents’ homes and to their dorm rooms – which is just as exciting as it is challenging.
The list of dorm room essentials might go on forever in your head, but you must weigh the budget and storage space you have – and both of these are typically pretty limited. Don’t worry: the Honeygain team members have been there, done that, and are ready to share some handy tips from their personal experience to help you save on dorm shopping!
Start by checking the rules of your dorm
If you thought dorm rules are limited to silent hours and no-substance policies – think again! While these examples are certainly the most common, it’s not unusual for a dorm building to also forbid you from storing specific items in your room. Candles and electric appliances can be a fire hazard. Pets in shared spaces might cause allergies. Some places won’t even allow you to add any holes in the walls – which means no nails and no extra shelving. Make sure you know what’s allowed before you start your dorm shopping!
Get to know the room itself
While some things can be forbidden, others might simply prove inconvenient. If possible, visit the room or have a virtual tour before you actually move in to see what needs improvements and what doesn’t! Simply stepping inside will show you whether you’ll need to invest in extra lighting, and checking your mattress will help you understand whether you need a topper. You might also find buying an inexpensive set of bed risers could help you get that precious extra bit of storage space!
Contact your future roommates
While most college essentials are pretty personal, some can actually be shared easily. Hence, it makes no sense to have multiples in the same room: not only is it an unnecessary expense, but it also eats up a ton of space in that tiny dorm room. If your dorm allows using small electric appliances in rooms, for example, you could share things like a microwave, an iron, or a hairdryer. You also won’t need three shower curtains or area rugs. If you’re going to have roommates, see if it’s possible to get their contact information in advance and plan who’s going to bring what!
See what you can take from home
We’re not saying dorm shopping cannot be fun – but before you start, go through a careful inspection of your room in your parents’ house. Chances are, you already possess some of the college essentials you thought you’d have to splurge on! Aside from the obvious stuff like clothes and toiletries, you can surely take your favorite pillow and comforter (double-check the mattress size if you want to bring sheets too, though!), things like storage bins or electronics. Just don’t pack something the entire family uses, too!
Don’t think of these buys as temporary
One of the mistakes many first-year college students make is not being careful enough when buying dorm room essentials. They think those are just temporary buys they won’t be using once their studies are over – however, there are two reasons why this approach is faulty. First, even if you’re going to throw this stuff out once you graduate, it still has to last you a few years – and cheap stuff often has a lifespan of months. Second, not needing college essentials anymore doesn’t mean others don’t need it, too – you can usually resell things like electronics or decor items right there on campus!
Don’t say no to used
Did your ears perk up a bit when we mentioned reselling stuff? Because they should! You can certainly save a lot of money if you don’t restrict your dorm shopping to stores and check out secondhand offers first, be they on campus or on Craigslist. Better yet, you can ask your siblings or friends who have just completed (or are about to complete) their studies: they might be willing to offer you a really low price or even give some stuff away – and they’re also less likely to lie about any faults.
Opt for multifunctional
The less space you have, the less likely you’d want to sacrifice it for things that only serve one purpose. Whenever possible, try to buy dorm room essentials that can be used in more ways than one. For example, a 3-in-1 printer can print, copy and scan, and a multicooker like InstantPot can be used to sauté, steam, pressure-cook, slow-cook, and do a whole lot more while only taking up the space of one appliance. You could even benefit from having an actual Swiss army knife in your room, as they often include nail files, can openers, corkscrews, scissors, rulers, LED lights, screwdrivers, and more!
Think of transportation in advance
When you’re having fun dorm shopping, don’t forget to think about the next stage: moving all those things to your new dorm room. First of all, are you going by plane, train, bus, or car? The answer will dictate just how much of your college essentials you will be able to take with you on that first trip. Next, what are you packing your stuff into? Try to go for bags that take up the least space once you’re done with them: a duffel bag is way better than a hard-shelled suitcase, and if you’re going by car, huge plastic bags are ideal (think the blue ones from IKEA or even massive trash bags with drawstrings at the top!).
Leave decor for later
If your idea of what a typical dorm room looks like is shaped by YA movies, you might have already added a bunch of things like string lights, bulletin boards, picture frames and posters to your dorm shopping list. We’d actually recommend you to leave those for later, as it’s pretty easy to make a small room feel cluttered! Get all of your must-haves where they’re supposed to be first, and then decide whether you need to add anything (by the way – minimalism is in style now!). Truth be told, with all the lectures, projects, events, dates, and parties, you might decide you’re spending too little time in your actual room to waste time and money decorating it anyways!
Ask older students about the local places
When it comes to dorm shopping, it’s always better to buy too little than too much. You can always purchase additional items as time passes – and once you befriend some older students who have been living in their dorms for longer, they might share valuable advice on local shops and markets where you can save a dime or two. They might also tell you about local eateries or smaller e-shops they’ve discovered and grew to like. What’s better than an honest recommendation coming from someone who’s been in your shoes?
Use your student discounts
Check with your college or university on how quickly they typically issue student cards for first-year students: some might take a few weeks or even a month, but others are a lot quicker or can even print them on the spot as you sign your student contract. Once you have your student card and your academic email address, you can benefit from many offers like discounts and free shopping, so make the most out of it! Amazon Prime is notorious for its excellent student plan, for example – it’s actually free for your first six months, and you might save hundreds of dollars on shipping alone during that time!
Take on passive income
Obviously, the best way to not feel completely broke as you’re doing your dorm shopping is to boost your earnings and have more money at hand. However, it might be hard to find a job before you even start your studies. In addition to that, you’re most likely to be moving soon, so most employers don’t even want to waste their time and money training you. Luckily, some passive income ideas don’t require you to be in a specific location, work a predetermined amount of hours every week, or even have a diploma!
Take Honeygain, for example: once you download and install the application on your mobile or desktop device, you’ll start generating free money by simply running it and sharing your Internet connection with the world-leading crowdsourced web intelligence network! According to our latest user survey, the majority of Honeygainers are actually students. Got you interested? Click the button below to register and collect a $5 starting gift right now!