Ways to Save Money on School Supplies For College
Back to school season is an expensive time of year, especially if you’re a rising freshman in college. On average, college students spend a whopping $1,200 per year on school supplies and books. And that’s without factoring in the cost of dorm essentials you’ll need to buy like towels, toiletries, and bedding.
If you’re an incoming college student and you don’t have a lot of money to spare, here are some tips to help you save on school and dorm supplies so you don’t break the bank. If you’re wondering, what school supplies do I need for college, we’ll also provide you with a list to give you an idea of what to buy.
What School Supplies Do I Need For College?
Your college school supply list will probably look pretty similar to what you bought in high school. Most students need:
- A computer
- A backpack
- Notebooks or binders and loose leaf paper for taking notes
- Pens, pencils, erasers, and a pencil case to store them
- Highlighters and sticky notes or flags to mark important info in textbooks
- Refillable water bottle
- Basic desk supplies like tape, scissors, a stapler, staples and paper clips
- Flash drives
- A calculator for math classes
- Flashcards for studying
- A planner for keeping track of your assignments
Some college students also buy a printer and printer paper for their dorm room. Although printing term papers in your dorm is more convenient, it may be worth it to trek across campus to the library if your college offers free printing there.
Dorm Room Supplies
If you’ll be living away from home in student housing, you’ll also need some supplies for your dorm room, such as:
- Bedding for your bed such as sheets, pillowcases, and a comforter
- Bathroom supplies like towels, shower shoes, a hair dryer, and toiletries
- Cleaning supplies like laundry detergent, wet wipes, paper towels, and trash bags
- Clothes hangers and a laundry basket
- A small trash can
- Table lamps for your desk and nightstand
Many incoming college students also purchase things like posters, area rugs, and string lights to personalize their dorm room. But if you’re trying to save money, try not to go overboard on nonessentials. Dorm rooms are usually small, so you don’t want to make the space look cramped by adding too many decorations. Plus, your wallet will thank you for going easy on the decor.
The same goes for appliances for your dorm. Although it’s nice to have a mini fridge to keep your drinks and snacks cold, you can live without it. If there’s an appliance you and your roommates really want, see if you can split the cost with them to save money. Or try out some of the money-saving tips below to get the dorm and school supplies you want for less.
Ways to Save Money on School and Dorm Supplies
Take Advantage of Move Out Day
Before college students move out of their dorms for the summer in April and May, they often try to sell furniture and other items they can’t take back home on Craigslist, OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace. So if you live near a college or university, keep an eye on resale websites in the spring. You may be able to find gently used dorm staples like futons and desk lamps at deeply discounted prices.
It’s also a good idea to drive around your local university on move out day. Sometimes students will leave items they couldn’t sell on the curb as a last resort. So you may be able to score some of the things you need for your dorm room for free.
Reuse School Supplies From High School
Another money-saving tip is to raid your old stash of school supplies from high school. You may have folders or notebooks you never used or pens that still work. Take inventory of what you already have before you go shopping so you don’t buy school supplies you don’t need.
To save money on things you need for your dorm, ask your parents if they can spare any household items like towels or toiletries. As long as your parents allow it, you can also take items like bedding, lamps, and decorations from your high school bedroom to cut costs.
Buy a Refurbished Laptop
If you need a computer to take with you to college, look into buying a refurbished laptop instead of a new one. Refurbished laptops are up to 65% cheaper than new models, which is a huge savings. And as long as you buy it from a reputable source like Apple or Best Buy, your refurbished laptop will likely function well and last you until graduation (or beyond).
Shop at Thrift Stores and Garage Sales
Another cheap way to get the items you need for your dorm room is to shop at thrift stores and garage sales. You can often find gently used household items like sheets, towels, appliances, and rugs at thrift stores for a fraction of the price of buying them new. Some thrift stores like Goodwill even offer student discounts.
Shop Back to School Sales and Tax-Free Weekends
Back to school sales usually begin right after the Fourth of July. So keep an eye on the weekly ad for your local supermarket or office supply store starting in midsummer. You’ll likely be able to score discounts on a wide variety of office supplies to cut down on your back to school spending.
Some states even have tax-free shopping weekends at the end of summer to help families save on school supplies. For example, West Virginians won’t have to pay taxes on school supplies, laptops, clothing, and sports equipment from August 5th to 8th, 2022. Do some research and see if your state has a similar program you can take advantage of to save money.
Do you have any money-saving tips for incoming college students? Share them in the comments section below!
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