Top 5 Tips to Dorm Shopping

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Recently I went out on a little shopping spree with my parents for all my college dorm essentials. It was the most stressful, yet fun and exciting, shopping trip I have ever been on in my entire life thus far. Now, you're probably thinking, "How could your first time DORM shopping have been stressful for you?" After reflecting a bit on the experience, I realized that it's not really all it's cracked up to be. I don't like when my parents spend a ton on me, so I was focused on doing my best to get what I wanted and needed that was of good quality while also saving them money. Anyway, I actually came out of this trip with a few pieces of advice to share that can help make your dorm shopping experience a little less stressful! Here are my top 5 tips to make dorm shopping a bit easier on you (and also your parent's/parents' wallet)...

1. Be prepared before you go (or at least try to be).
My parents did not inform me when we would be going shopping for all of my dorm stuff. We were just out for lunch one day and my father said, "We're going to stop at a few places so you can gather up everything you need for your dorm." Now obviously, I was pumped - I mean, who isn't ever excited to go shopping? However, I felt completely unprepared; I'm the type of person who needs my list with me to check off as I go, and since we were out I didn't have it with me. Luckily I had saved many different dorm packing lists to my Pinterest boards, so I quickly put together a list on my phone of all the important items I needed to get. The lesson of this tip is simply to be prepared not just for the shopping itself, but also in the case that your parents surprise you one day out of the blue like mine did!

2. Focus on the essentials first.
Get everything that's actually important prior to buying things that you just think you would like to have and/or really don't really expect to use that much. It doesn't make much sense to buy the TV or microwave before the bedding now does it?

3. Check the sale items before the fully priced.
This may sound like an obvious tip, but you'd be surprised how many people don't follow it. I had picked up a few different pillows for my bed in Target to decide on, all about $15, and then I came across the one pictured above on the clearance rack for $7. I didn't even think to check if there was a sale section, it just completely slipped my mind when I saw all the pillows in an isle next to the comforters! Turns out, the clearance pillows were a bit farther down. Not only did I save half of what I was going to spend on an equally-quality pillow, but I also had money leftover to put towards other things!

4. It's okay to go cheap.
Some people think they need to shop at more expensive places to get the most out of their money. That is not the case and should not be your plan of attack when dorm shopping, especially when you're going into college; you're about to pay thousands for your education, so you shouldn't be spending more on your dorm room than you have to. It's okay to get some of your little items from places such as Walmart - for example, do you really need that toothbrush holder from Target that costs $5 more than the practically/exact same one you saw at Walmart? Also, just because an item is cheaper does not mean it isn't the same/even better quality.

5. DIY it if you believe you can.
All of the wall decor for my dorm (except the items that I received as gifts) are DIY projects. Buying my own canvases and paint proved to be a lot cheaper than purchasing the paintings, and it also gave me creative control. The wooden letter H in the picture above was also a DIY project that would have been much more expensive to buy off of Etsy from someone, and I'm even buying a $6 wooden oar and painting it myself rather than purchasing a $30+ already made one! Sometimes, it's easier (and more fun) to just do things yourself.

What are some tips that you have for dorm shopping newbies like myself? Leave them in the comments below. Hope I managed to help any fellow Class of 2019 students out there with these tips (and future college dormers to come)!

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