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Career > Money

College on a Budget: Bargain Hunting at UMass Amherst

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Who isn’t on a budget in college? Whether you need some staples to stock up your dorm, or you’re setting up your first apartment, prices start racking up quicker than we might like. But don’t worry! There are plenty of places around the Amherst area where you can get everything you need at a pretty good bargain.

Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree just might be my favorite store to go to…ever. Obviously, the prices are great. But there are just so many things there. Doing a craft night with your friends? Dollar Tree has mini canvases and paints. Running low on school supplies? They have everything you need like pencils, notebooks, and even poster boards. Setting up your apartment kitchen? They have utensils, Tupperware, and pretty good quality glassware from plates to glasses. They even have balloons! I could go on forever, but don’t sleep on Dollar Tree next time you run out of toothpaste.


As an off-campus student, I do virtually all my grocery shopping at Aldi. They have a pretty great selection and since most everything isn’t name brand, it’s all priced super well. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste great! I even took a leap and tried cooking their frozen Cornish game hen for Valentine’s Day, and it was so yummy. People also say their frozen chicken filets taste just like Chick-fil-a, so what more of a reason do you need?


I go to Target for three things: toiletries, pantry foods, and clothes. The shampoo and face wash I use are almost always priced better at Target than CVS, and sometimes even better than Walmart. If I need to do a quick run for a couple of groceries, I’ll sometimes go to Target because they actually have really good quality store-brand foods, and they’ll usually have anything I can’t grab at Aldi. In terms of Target’s clothes, I know their seasonal collections can be a little bit of…an acquired taste at times, but if you’re someone who likes to fill your closet with simple staples Target usually has a great and somewhat affordable selection.


I will live and die by the Marshall’s sale rack. You always find the best stuff there because they have great quality designers significantly marked down. Plus, it’s kind of like a fun game going there because they stock surplus clothes from a variety of vendors, so you almost never see the same things twice.


In the age of fast fashion and excessive clothing waste, thrifting and repurposing are where it’s at. Goodwill has a big selection of clothes, shoes, and some accessories, too. If you have sewing skills, or you’re looking to work on yours, consider thrifting old clothes to repurpose instead of purchasing fabric. I’ve even seen crocheters on TikTok purchase damaged yarn-based clothing from thrift stores and re-spooling it to make completely new clothes from scratch! On top of the already low prices, the local Goodwill near UMass has pretty frequent sales and discounts for students with ID.

No matter what it is you need, there’s almost certainly somewhere near UMass where you can find what you need for a great price. But it’s still okay to treat yourself to something fancy or higher quality every once in a while, too!

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Alessandra Amore

U Mass Amherst '23

Alessandra is a junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is majoring in Public Health and is on the Pre-Med track, and is in the accelerated MPH program in epidemiology. She also plays trumpet in the UMass Minuteman Marching Band. She loves baking, her cat, and a good episode of Gilmore Girls.