Our son, Jackson, is headed to his freshman year of college in just a few weeks. As with most colleges, his college requires freshmen to live on campus in a dorm. His particular dorm room consists of two 2 bedroom rooms connected by a jack-and-jill bathroom. That means there will be 2 guys sleeping in each room and 4 guys sharing a bathroom.
We needed to buy dorm bedroom supplies and also bathroom supplies. Pinterest, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and college websites are all full of helpful lists of anything your college student could possibly need. I found several ways to save on the things that Jackson would need, so I thought I would share.
1. Kohl’s Cash or other shopping rewards
Kohl’s gives “Kohl’s Cash” throughout the year. It can be redeemed on future purchases. You don’t have to spend a minimum amount in order to redeem it. For the past year, any time I earned Kohl’s cash, I went online to purchase dorm supplies. Specifically, towels and washcloths. I made sure to buy towels that could be shipped to the store for free. I also made sure not to spend more than the amount that I had in Kohl’s cash. You can always earn more Kohl’s cash later for more towels, or whatever you’re buying. Another tip is that you can have your college student listed to be the pick-up person. Have them go inside and pick up your purchase, so you won’t be tempted to buy anything else.
2. Shop the Sales and Stash It
Items that you need will be going on periodically throughout the year. Start your junior year and buy things you know you’ll need. For example, if you know that you’ll need a mattress pad, buy it when it’s on sale and stash it away until you need it. Don’t wait until the last minute to shop or you’ll be spending a lot more.
3. Shop after July 4th
After the 4th of July, stores will advertise college related items. The 2 weeks after the 4th of July, different items will be on sale. For example, our Target had dorm microwaves on sale the first week, and dorm refrigerators on sale the second week after the 4th of July. HOWEVER, don’t wait too long because once August gets here it’s crunch time and none of it will be on sale.
4. Pair with a Stair
Do you have friends with kids whose ages alternate with your kids? Stair step kids can share big items! A lot of times college students will only stay in a dorm their freshman year, and they will live elsewhere after that. This means that you really only need items like dorm microwaves, refrigerators, and headboards for one year. You can set up some kind of deal where items get passed or alternated between kids.
5. Check your apps frequently, especially Cartwheel.
I am a huge fan of the Target Cartwheel app. I check my app weekly to see what offers are available. Many times, there has been a Cartwheel offer at the same times as a sale. For example, in the spring there was a sale on rugs, any kind. There was also a Cartwheel offer for rugs. I ended up buying Jackson a 5×7 nonslip rug for $13! Be sure to check the Cartwheel category called “For You”. There are some gems in there.
6. Shopping Lists on Amazon
After you find a dorm shopping list that you plan on using (Pinterest, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, or college website), create a shopping list on Amazon. Go ahead and pick out things that you will need, and add them to the shopping list. Periodically go online and check your list. Prices can fluctuate on Amazon, especially during Prime Day and Cyber Monday. If your item goes on sale, you might want to go ahead and buy it.
7. Graduation Gift Cards
Jackson received some gift cards for graduation. He knew that he would need to use any money or gift cards he received for college expenses. We made trips to pick up needed items and used the gift cards. Be sure to combine shopping trips with sales, rewards, and Cartwheel offers. If this is something you plan on doing, communicate ahead of time with your high school senior that graduation gift cards aren’t a free for all, and they should be used for needed items. Show them the shopping list, and write prices next to each item so they can see what it’s going to take to get everything.
8. Split Costs with a Roomie
Write down all shared items, and split the list up with your roommate. There really only needs to be one microwave, refrigerator, vacuum, tall trashcan, rug, etc. In our case, 4 guys will be sharing a bathroom that needs a shower curtain/rings, rug, toilet bowl brush, plunger, etc. Communicate well ahead of time so that you don’t waste money buying duplicates.
9. Make a Wish List and Share It
You are able to make a dorm wish list/registry on many sites such as Amazon and Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Often grandparents or other extended family are excited to buy something(s) that you need. Go ahead and make the list, and if someone asks you can always share it with them.
10. Store Brands
The amount of stuff you need to go off to college can be overwhelming. There are many items that it really doesn’t matter if they are name brand or not. Toilet bowl brush…who cares what brand it is? Shower curtain, trashcan, desk organizer…your college freshman and their friends are NOT going to care if it’s $100 or $1, as long as they have what they need. P.S. Target brand detergent pods work just as well as some other brands.
Good luck with all of your shopping. Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have another way to save.