The links in this post may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure statement here.
Such an exciting time! Your child’s been accepted to college and it’s time to start shopping for their freshman dorm. Read on for BIG cost saving tips so you don’t break the bank!
It’s a very emotional time and stores know this. The shopping lists they supply attempt to profit from your love for your child by indicating they need far more than is really necessary. I’ve researched the shopping lists of recommended items from Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, and Walmart. They suggest far more than your student will actually ever use, need, or be able to fit in their tiny dorm room. But, the more you spend, the more they make so why not tell you that your child needs three sets of sheets? Three sets of sheets? I’ve had many a parent report to me that their child never washed their sheets at all – well, gross and hopefully not the norm, but how many do they actually need? Most kids will take the sheets off their beds, wash them, dry them, and put them right back on. At most you need two sets.
Cups, plates, bowls, eating utensils?? They don’t really have a convenient way to wash these items and would prefer not to have to at all. Although not great for the environment, disposable is the way to go. Target suggests a pizza cutter. Really? The pizza they eat in their dorm room is most often delivery and they cut the pizza for you! And, Walmart recommends cooking utensils? At most, your child will be heating up some instant mac and cheese in a microwave. Don’t waste your money on these items.
Another scam is telling you that you need to buy an extra long twin comforter for their bed. While the sheets need to be extra long, the comforter does not and looking for one that says extra long will greatly limit the selection. My best advice when it comes to bedding is to buy a full-size comforter, not twin. Most students only live in the dorms for their freshman year. Then, it’s off to an apartment. College apartment complexes use full size beds. That twin size comforter will be unusable for more than their freshman year. Most college beds are raised if not lofted. A full size comforter will not be hanging on the floor and can be used to mask all the junk being stored under the bed.
Come late July and Target (other big box stores too) will have a bright, colorful section of dorm room items near the front of the store. The thing about this is, if you go to the actual departments instead of shopping in this area, you can get the same or similar quality items for less money. Take these two laundry baskets at Target. The firsst one will be up front in the college display and it costs $8.99. The second one you’ll find in their laundry organization section for only $3.99. That’s a saving of $5 just on this one item and those savings really add up and add up quickly – save $5 on ten items and you’ve saved yourself $50. Okay, admittedly the one on the left is a little nicer, but it’s a laundry basket folks. I seem to save the most money when I do my shopping online because it gives me the chance to look at everything that’s available, not be suckered in my bright, shiny displays. When I’m shopping online I’m not rushed into expensive decisions and I have the time to search and sort items by price.
I’ve put together a great, no-nonsense, no fluff, no waste freshman shopping list. I have edited it several times over the last year and it’s now in its 4.0 version. It is broken up into categories. It also indicates which items are necessities and which are optional as well as which items can be split among roommates/suitemates. Click here to download the list in WORD format. Once open, click ‘enable editing’ to have it format properly. In this format, you can add or adjust the list any way you want.
Now that you know what you need, read Freshman Move-In Day: What you need to know and learn storage solutions to fit everything they need into their tiny room. Also, learn how you can save thousands by choosing the right dining plan, or not choosing one at all. Confused by financial aid and wondering what a Federal Unsubsidized Loan (also known as a Stafford Loan or Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan). Click here to learn about this type of government loan.Join our Facebook discussions, Parenting Your College Student.