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Save Money on Setting Up Your Dorm

By Helen Reaume

Published July 25, 2017 • 4 Min Read

Whether you’ve been pinning dorm decor ideas on Pinterest for months, or are just starting to imagine what your dorm will look like, one thing that has probably crossed your mind is the cost of making your room “yours.”

While you’ll likely be able to bring some things from home and your cool Aunt Margie might give you a few strings of twinkle lights for ambiance, setting up your new place could put you back a pretty penny. Luckily, you don’t need to live like a monk or overspend – there are lots of ways to get your perfect dorm room on the cheap.

Stick to The Essentials

Do you really need a mini-fridge? What about that toaster or microwave your mom suggested? Rather than buying everything in case you’ll need it, figure out what you’ll actually use. Many dorm buildings have kitchens in common rooms on every floor so you don’t have to equip your room with expensive appliances. And you can hold off buying a hot plate that also charges your phone until you’ve confirmed if the meal plan food really is inedible.

Open notebook on the desk in student's dorm room decorated with easy DIY projects.

Get Your DIY Juices Flowing

Students everywhere have to come up with thrifty ideas to decorate their dorms. Luckily, hundreds of other people’s affordable DIY projects can easily be found with a quick online search. Buy cheap mirrors, candles and organizers and make them look amazing with a little bit of paint or some scrap fabric. Get creative and make your own wall art. Or turn a vinyl record into a clock.

Buy Pre-Loved

Used stuff is often much more affordable so try to get as much as you can second hand. Sure, a used mini fridge may not have the same glitz as something brand new but that doesn’t mean it won’t work. Check out Kijiji or Craigslist, go to garage sales, and head to second hand stores to find what you need. Consider asking close family friends and family members if they have anything that they would love to give to a good home.

Multifunction is Key

Cut down on your expenditures with items that do double duty. Why buy an extra chair for guests when you can get an ottoman that also offers storage? Look for items designed with students in mind, like a speaker that also provides extra light or a toaster oven with a coffee maker attached. You can get your caffeine and avocado toast fixes at the same time while saving money and space.

Modern interior of a dorm room furnished with rewards points.

Cash In Those Rewards Points

Do you or your parents have a credit card attached to a rewards program? Rewards programs today have expanded far beyond travel options to include merchandise and gift cards from a variety of retailers. Why spend the cash on your bedding or décor when you can get it on points?

Rent Rather Than Buy

If you’re not willing to risk someone stealing your cola if you leave it in the communal fridge, then don’t buy a fridge of your own – rent one. There are companies at most schools that offer mini fridges and microwaves for rent during the school year. The best thing is that they often deliver to your dorm and pick them up at the end of the year, so you save money and don’t have to figure out where to stash everything when you go home next summer. Look for flyers around your dorm or search online for a company and contact them early because fridges often get rented fast.

Before you start decorating your dorm room, make sure you create a budget so you don’t get carried away buying throw pillows or artwork you can’t afford. By getting creative and being thrifty, you’ll be able to create a cool space to study and hang out with your friends.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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