This post shares what I regret buying for college and what I wish I had bought instead!
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The month before a new college year is always filled with buzzing excitement as students swarm the aisles in Target looking for all the “move-in essentials”. I was there once too. I felt like if I didn’t show up to move-in day with every single item on every single packing list, that I would be so unprepared.
Recently, I have seen a lot of freshman students asking what they don’t necessarily need for college and I want this post to provide some insight on things that you don’t (in my personal experience) need to buy. I also am providing some money saving tips that will help keep your move-in bill low.
What I Wish I Didn’t Buy for College (And What You Should Buy Instead)
DON’T BUY: Bed risers. Personally, I had no use for these. My bed had different settings and went high enough that I didn’t need that additional under the bed storage.
- BUY INSTEAD: Instead, invest in great under the bed organizers. These will allow you to put away off-season clothes or books you no longer need with efficiency and ease underneath your bed. You can also use low to the ground storage bins for this purpose.
DON’T BUY: Closet organizers. My roommate and I really didn’t have room for these. Our closet during my junior year of college was so tiny that we ended up buying a second hanging rod for it (that fell down a few times a week and became a huge mess, but hey, props to us for creativity right?? haha). Beware of closet organizers that take up more room than actually help!
- BUY INSTEAD: Make sure you are maximizing the space in your drawers by organizing them. I have found that these drawer organizers have helped me fit so much more into my drawers and, unlike closet organizers, they don’t take up precious space!
DON’T BUY: A mini fridge (if you are on a meal plan). I go back and forth on this one because there really are times when I am glad I have a mini fridge but, overall, I definitely don’t use it as much as I thought I would and I don’t feel like it was a good use of $50.
- BUY INSTEAD: Invest in some yummy non refrigerated snacks (buying them in bulk can help save you money at the school snack shop too!) Some of my favorite “must haves” that I like to have in stock:
DON’T BUY: Alarm clock. Unless you don’t use your cell phone as an alarm clock, there really isn’t any need for one of these.
- BUY INSTEAD: This little pocket has been one of the best purchases I have ever made. It sits on your bed post and can hold water, your phone, glasses, etc. I set my phone in there at night so that when my alarm goes off in the morning, it’s right by my ear which helps wake me up. I also put my medications there so I don’t forget to take them at night!
DON’T BUY: Iron + ironing board. OKAY so maybe my clothes would have looked a lot nicer with these. But that being said, a lot of people in the dorms have one so if you are in a bind, you can always borrow one from a friend! However, if you are one to iron your clothes daily (I’m not) then perhaps you will want these!
- BUY INSTEAD: Consider buying a steamer instead. These take up a lot less space and are much quicker than an iron! I just purchased this one and so far I really like it!
DON’T BUY: Lap desk. I used mine a few times but definitely didn’t use it as much as I thought I would!
- BUY INSTEAD: Boyfriend pillows are awesome and they give you a lot of back support when you are sitting in bed. These will help you do work in bed too.
DON’T BUY: Stapler. Personally, I always use the one in the library (since that is where I print) making the one I bought pretty useless.
- BUY INSTEAD: Consider buying a tool set in case you ever need screws, a tape measurer or a leveler. This will come in handy when you are decorating too!
DON’T BUY: Waste basket. My dorm had one of these for us when we moved in. Of course, it was nice to have an extra but if you are trying to save money, wait and see if your dorm provides one!
Dorm move-in money saving tips:
- Communicate with your roommate before going to the store. There are some things (vacuum-I have this one and I LOVE it, cleaning supplies, printer) that you only need one of!
- It is better to under-buy than over-buy. You can always go shopping again (unless of course you are without a car like I am) but it is a pain to show up on day one with too much stuff than can fit into your room.
- If you wait until the “back to school” hype dies down, you can get a lot of items on clearance!
- Don’t go overboard on decorations. If you know me, you know I LOVE decorations and making my dorm room cozy. However there are a ton of ways to decorate your dorm room for free. I wrote a post on free, cute printables for your dorm room.
- Here are some of my favorite inexpensive dorm and apartment decor items:
- Washi tape! I absolutely love using this stuff to line my desk, bookshelf and walls. It is also great to use when hanging up photos. I personally love this set but you can also purchase this at any craft store. I have also seen it at Walmart and Target!
- These butterfly wall stickers are less than $1.50 for a pack of twelve! They would be so cute on a boring dorm wall.
- Anything in the dollar section of Target! That is where I got the XOXO sign shown below. I also got a cute tablecloth there that you could easily hang as a tapestry on your wall!
I totally agree with everything you listed here! When it’s your first time away from home it’s super easy to get swept up in the need to overpack! Less is definitely more, and you can always buy stuff once you get there! Great post, I’m in love with your blog!
Thank you so much Samantha!! I absolutely agree, less is definitely more! xoxo
I just recently wrote a postabout this. I said no to the ironing as well! Who cares lol
Hahah I probably should iron more than I do but let’s be real, it doesn’t happen!
Under-buying is definitely better than over-buying! I brought very few things with me my freshman move-in day aside from clothing and a few DIY decor items. Buying almost everything once I got to school was so much better because I really didn’t end up with anything I didn’t need/use! I would say the same goes for clothes; because I moved from a warm climate to a place with actual seasons (and snow…), I needed a lot of sweaters, boots, etc., which I opted to gradually purchase more of once I got to school.
Alexa | theicingontheplaylist.com
Completely agree! It is so much better to just see what you need once you get there than show up with twice the amount of stuff than you actually need!
I am about to move into the dorms and I have bought a lot of stuff and am planning on returning it if I don’t need it. When you live in a small town college stuff tends to go pretty quick so it isn’t very easy to just go out and buy extra on move in day.
The only thing I disagree with is the mini-fridge, but otherwise good list! If you want cold water, or soda and don’t want to spend tons of money at the vending machine you should have one. Plus it’s good for leftovers if you treat yourself to pizza or other take out foods.
That’s true but at least for me, I never really use it! Definitely something that some people may find helpful though:)
I will be an incoming freshman in college this fall and this was super helpful! Thanks much!
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