It can be an emotional time for parents when a child is moving off to college. It’s easy to feel guilty about sending them away and you want your child to have all name brand, high end; the best of everything. Check your emotions and understand; this is only where they will sleep for a while. With the cost of attending college rising each year, its wise to save in as many areas as possible.
Here are a few tips to help cut some of the cost associated with getting the supplies needed for your child's new home away from home.
Buy the bare minimum at first! Our instinct tells us to stock up on everything because we don't want our precious college student to be without the basic necessities. If money is tight, just buy the bare minimum. If that backpack, and those dorm accessories are more expensive than you can handle right now, check back after September 1st and buy the rest when it’s on sale. If there is a tax free day in your state and classes start before then, wait to purchase larger items. By then, you will know exactly what you will need.
Bundle It! Buying items for your dorm such as the XL comforter, sheets, bath items, can add up when buying individually. Check with the college to see if they have a package deal. Some colleges will send a pamphlet that lists packages with all the accessories and other things you need for a dorm. Starter packages range from $150 to the big deal at around $300. Select your bundle, pick your colors and it will be waiting in your room. This could not only save you a lot of money but it could also save you time (and space in your car on move in day).
Coupons- Clipping coupons is one of the best ways to save money as a college student. Figure out which store you will do most of your shopping. Is it the Walmart down the street, or the CVS right next to campus? Shopping regularly in the same stores can mean big savings. If you don’t have a car, find out if your school offers shuttle service to nearby stores, or simply walk! Find out if the store has a double coupon policy. If they allow it, you can save big bucks. Also, colleges often have a link on their website listing stores and restaurants that offer discounts with your student ID, so check there, too!
Have a trunk party. Prior to going away, invite your family and friends to a going away party. Ask them to bring items on your list. Better yet, ask them to put money in a card to help you pay for the items you need for your dorm or apartment.
What is your roommate bringing? No dorm room is big enough to have extra of everything. Contact your roommate prior to the big move in day to see what each person will bring. There’s no need for two of everything (or 4 if you are sharing a suite). You may even be able to rent some items for the school year. Don’t have a microfridge? Ask the school if they will lease it.
How many do you really need? Parents, be prepared that your college student may bring home a boatload of dirty, smelly laundry that they’ve saved just for you! Take this into consideration when you are stocking up on laundry detergent and those expensive XL sheets you are purchasing. Do you really need 4 large tubs of Pods detergent, 3 bottles of Fabuloso and 6 sets of sheets? Of course we want them to keep a clean room and maintain their laundry, but right now, do you really need to purchase that many?
Find a friend or neighbor that has already graduated. They may give you what they are no longer using or allow you to purchase it at a low price. Often times you may find a college graduate that has brand new sheets, comforters, and electronics that they will allow you to use for a little of nothing.
Try to avoid buying new text books- College students need books; we send them to college to learn, right? The cost of books can be ridiculously high. See if you can borrow a book from a friend or from the library. Some eager parents may want to be proactive and buy the books ahead of time so that they are prepared for the first day. That’s fine, but you could save money if you wait until after the first day of class. Often times the professor will list the books and materials needed on the syllabus. They may even tell you not to purchase the books. If a book is actually required, usually the campus bookstore is more expensive. If you have an account with Amazon Prime or Barnes & Noble, you may be able to buy or rent your books for much less. CHEGG.com is another great resource for ordering your books. Just remember, if you rent the book; return it at the end of the semester or you could be charged the full amount.