Off to College: Getting What You Need Affordably

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Sending a freshman off to college is not only an emotional and life-changing event for the whole family — it’s an expensive proposition! Piled on top of the cost of a college education itself are the student’s living expenses. Even when living a a dorm, he or she has the challenge of setting up a whole new household, in cramped quarters and with an equally cramped budget. How can these young adults get what they need to make dorm life comfortable, convenient and affordable while acclimating to the demands of college life?

I’ve assembled the best wisdom offered by a number of sources, from former dorm dwellers, to parents, to financial advisers, to coupon and discount services, to provide a frugal guide to Freshman living. Here’s what they advise:

  • Make a list of what’s necessary after consulting with your roommate. Considering the expense of setting up housekeeping and the limited space available in a dorm room, check with your roommate as to what he or she will provide, to avoid duplicate items.
  • Make that list of necessities early so you can be on the lookout for discounts, sales and coupons on what you need and want. Rather than wait for ‘Back to School’ sales, start looking for what you need as soon as possible. Check out garage sales, thrift stores, flea markets and clearance racks to find good deals on discontinued or mis-matched items. Remember, alternatives to retail stores, sales and coupons are your friend when your budget is tight and your needs are simple.
  • Negotiate with the parents as to what you can take from home. Most homes can spare a few blankets, mugs, plates, bowls and silverware — maybe even some bath towels. “Shopping” in your own home can seriously cut down on your expenses while re-purposing some of the clutter that most homes accumulate over the years.
  • Discover inexpensive stores in your college town for food, supplies and equipment. Once you arrive at your college, scout around for some inexpensive grocery, discount and office supply stores where you can keep yourself in the necessities like toothpaste, printer ink and microwave popcorn without breaking the bank.
  • Buy in bulk and share costs with your roommate. The cost of items that are considerably cheaper purchased in bulk, like ramen noodles and toilet paper, can be shared with your roommate. Make sure, however, that you decide upon an equitable way of sharing such costs so that one of you doesn’t use more and pay less than your fair share.
  • Consult message boards and websites where students buy and sell items. One of your best sources for items used by dorm residents are former dorm residents! Look for classified ads for items you need or want – their asking prices will likely be cheap because they are highly motivated to sell.
  • Procure first aid supplies and cold remedies when you set up your dorm room. In the interest of creating a dorm room that is ready to withstand the rigors of college life, be certain to set up a fully-stocked medicine cabinet. First aid and cold remedies are some of the most expensive items you’ll need to purchase. Planning ahead and having a supply of these items on hand will help you avoid an unforeseen pain in the wallet when you’re in no condition to be looking for bargains.

So there you have it: advice from the experts on how to outfit your dorm room — and yourself — with what’s needed to start your freshman dorm experience on the right foot, and with a bit of money still in your pocket!

Bonus Tip:

Another way to save on your monthly Internet and TV costs is to find a current ATT U-Verse coupon code or at least a promotion to knock down your home service bill.

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