Five simple, cost-effective ways to decorate your college dorm

The store aisles are buzzing. Soon-to-be college students are paging through lists of dorm necessities and shelling out hundreds of dollars for futons, mini fridges and Keurig coffeemakers. New roommates are already arguing over matching bedspreads and wall décor. What is the cause of all this madness? It could be nothing less than back-to-school shopping.

Back-to-school shopping is stressful enough, but the move to college makes the process a little more complicated and much more expensive.

If you’re on the lookout for ways to save some cash this back-to-school season, here are five super simple ways to create that dorm sweet dorm on a budget:

  1. Go on a consignment crawl. Although we would all love to have that trendy coffee table or the newest gaming system, a college student’s budget doesn’t always allow for impulse buys. Fortunately, you can find plenty of discount furniture, electronics and kitchen appliances at your local thrift store. Try to set a dollar limit for each shopping trip (otherwise you’ll end up with a whole trunk load of unnecessary deals) and look for items that are in good enough condition to last through your college years.


  1. Get your craft on. Who needs brand new wall décor when you can do it yourself? Head to the craft store and purchase a few blank canvases and some acrylic paint. You can even create your own wall tapestry by using stencils to make decorative designs or to trace a team logo on a bedsheet.


  1. Two words: Purpose. Another easy way to save money on your dorm room is by looking for décor pieces that serve more than one purpose. For example, you could use the top of an antique trunk (something you can probably find in your grandma’s attic) as a coffee table, and stash clothes or extra blankets inside. Or you could cover a storage bench with a colorful throw blanket and some pillows and create a makeshift seat for your friends.


  1. Split costs with your roommate. Be in touch with your roommate over the summer and discuss what each of you plan on bringing. You can divvy up the more expensive furniture items like the futon and the mini fridge. Just remember that your roommate will probably take those items with them at the end of the year, so you may have to find a replacement for the fall.


  1. Make yourself a needs and wants list. One of the best ways to make sure you stay on budget is determining what items you actually need and what items are simply on your wish list. For instance, do you really need that espresso machine you’ve been eyeing for months or could you get your caffeine fix just as easily from a discount coffeemaker? Be smart when going through your college packing list and try to distinguish what items will be well-used and what can wait until after you’ve paid off those student loans!