College Essentials Are NOT Cheap!

Dorm room decorations may look beautiful, but they are a NIGHTMARE to your savings account. I mean, did you add up the cost of the pretty pink pillows, the posters, and the matching wall art? If you've worked hard to save money this summer, you might find it shocking that shopping for room essentials alone will send you back to square one.

Tuition is only part of the overall college expense. If you're preparing to go to college, prepare to pay for room decor, too. Last year, college students and their parents spent $3.6 billion to decorate their dorm rooms or apartments, the National Retail Federation says. Incoming freshmen spend the most, with an average of $1,200 on school shopping.

I'm not saying avoid decorating all-together. Living in a blank room, with white (possibly discolored) walls is quite depressing. Besides, decorating is fun, and it adds personality to the lifeless, bare rooms. So, to combat the crazy spending associated with back-to-school shopping, I have found a few helpful tips to help keep some dollars in your pocket! 

1. Get hand-me-downs.

 If you have older siblings (family members, friends, etc.) who have gone to college, or if they have items they no longer need, ask if you can use them. That will knock a few expenses off the college checklist. (Examples:  A microwave, TV, printer, shelf or storage units, or even a lamp, can help reduce your overall college spending.)

2. Shop garage sales. 

Especially if you are moving into an apartment, you can often find furniture at a good price. (Tis' still the garage sale season!) You can also find some unique, colorful, and stylish decorative items. Go in with an open mind, you never know what you might find! 

3. BARGAIN shop.

Oftentimes, prices at bargain and discount stores are much better than at bigger retail stores. It might be more cluttered and less organized, but going in with a list can be very helpful. Know what you are looking for first, then scope out the store for those items.

4. Don't buy it if you don't absolutely need it. Try to stick to the essentials.

Adding your own personal touch to your room is one of the finer points of college. What if it doesn't have to mean shopping sprees? What if you can create your own decorations? Look up DIY projects, make a photo collage wall, or decorate with your own unique artwork. Not only will your room be decorated in your personal style, it will be decorated in your personal style, by you! 

5. If you can share it, then share it. Before going to college my first year, I talked with my future roommates about what items each of us would be bringing. My roommate brought a microwave, and I brought the mini fridge. If you have roommates, you don't have to buy everything.

Take care and happy back-to-school shopping!