Dorm furnishings can get expensive. As it turns out, we need a lot of stuff to function. Back in the days of the pioneers, people lived in houses made out of grass and dirt, called sod houses—but now we can’t even handle living a week without our phones. Well, friends, I am here to provide you with some tips for buying stuff for your dorm room without breaking the bank.
The best way to go about getting stuff is to break stuff down into tiers based on general price level and work from the bottom up. Anything you can’t find at the bottom of the dorm room stuff pyramid will probably be available at the top—for more money. This way, you can find more stuff at lower prices and only pay higher prices on fewer items.
The Thrift Store. The thrift store nearest you is the best place to stock up on things like shelving, picture frames, desk organizers, corkboards, white boards, storage crates, and more. Tons of grads dump their dorm stuff so that they can go onto bigger and better things (and by that, in most cases, I mean furniture from IKEA), so summer right after graduation is a great time to pick things up. Thrift stores are extremely cost effective, so this is a great first stop on your road to furnished-room-dom. You can also pick up things like cookware for those nights when you need to just bake some brownies. However, they are not the best place to get bedding. You either should stick with what you use at home if possible, or get it new. Used bedding, especially from strangers, is not a great idea.
Discount Stores. This is where the other 40-50% of your dorm room stuff. I’m talking TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, and HomeGoods. These are the types of places where you get great new stuff for discounted prices. These are great places to buy bedding and towels, pillows, rugs, lamps, shower caddies, cookware, organizers and tons more. It’s nowhere near as cheap as a thrift store, but the stuff is great and brand spankin’ new. ALWAYS go here before anything else.
Target and Walmart. These are great places to get dorm essentials like Command Hooks (vertical space is critical), bedding, cookware, storage for under your bed, and lots more. I got a fantastic storage ottoman from Target (mine was purple suede) before my freshman year, and it’s super amazing. I can put unused stuff like unopened pack of paper, my multisurface cleaning wipes, and my extra set of bed sheets in it with room to spare! It slides right under my bed, but if I have people over and want extra seating, I just slide that baby on out. I also use it as a footrest, or short table. (It’s firm enough to have stuff put on it.) Anyway, the next place on your magical shopping journey should be Target, Walmart, and the like. They are inexpensive, and have pretty dependable stuff.
Finally, try a Retail Store. Hit the mall, Pier 1, Pottery Barn (PB Teen is pretty great), or whatever! This is the stage when you should have filled most of your needs with inexpensive items, so now is the time when you get to spoil yourself a bit and splurge.
My Final Tip: Do not shop at Bed, Bath, and Beyond during dorm shopping season. It takes forever, is overpriced, and overcrowded, and they lure you in with an 80% off coupon that really still won’t help you get anything down to a reasonable price, but because you’ve been in there so long fighting the crowds you feel like a loser leaving empty-handed. That folks, is how you end up with an overpriced shower caddy after fighting through a crowded store for 2 hours.