By Marya

A quick Google search will find you all sorts of college checklists for your first dorm room. They’re designed to help incoming students sort out everything they’ll need for their new pad. But they may also be designed to encourage you to spend money on things you don’t necessarily need.

I went to a certain big box store to see just how much I could spend if I bought everything on one of these college checklists. The grand total: nearly $1,000. One thousand bucks on decorative pillows, a water pitcher, batteries, and a shower caddy (and about one hundred other things). That thousand bucks didn’t include a laptop, printer, TV, or new clothes, which can also put a major dent in your budget. Sure, some of the items on those checklists are necessities. But be wary of buying everything just because it’s there and you’re supposed to. Here are some tips to save a few bucks when shopping for your first dorm room:

  1. Ask your parents if you can take some stuff from home. Free is better than not free.
  2. Thrift stores are your friend. Cheap is better than not cheap.
  3. Make sure you can actually have certain items in your dorm room. We couldn’t have toasters or coffee pots in dorm rooms when I went to school. Not buying those items saved me fifty bucks!
  4. Only buy what you really need. Do you need a wall clock and an alarm clock? A foam mattress topper, mattress pad, and a bedbug protection kit? Remember, just because it’s on the list doesn’t mean you need it.

Going off to college is an exciting time. But be smart when buying supplies for your dorm room and you’ll have more money for pizza and movies with your new roomie.