College tuition is already high enough. Why overspend on dorm supplies when you can save and use that extra money toward other things (such as exploring new restaurants in your new town or a night at the movies with your new roommate)? This list of budget-conscious, back-to-school shopping tips will help make sure you’re getting all of your dorm essentials without breaking the bank.

Set Your Budget

In a perfect world, you’d spend as little as possible on all of your bedding, toiletries, storage organizers, and wall art combined. Realistically, however, the cost of those items can add up pretty quickly and become quite a burden.

The first step to college shopping is to set a reasonable budget that will help you determine which items you should buy for your dorm room. While you don’t want to spend thousands on dorm supplies, an unrealistically low price range will limit what you can buy. Of course everyone’s needs and budget is different, so set one that works best with your wallet.

The best option is to consider the average cost of each essential dorm item and to try to stay within that price range. For example, you don’t need to spend over $200 on designer bedding. A simple yet stylish comforter, like this Nightfall Navy Pin Tuck Comforter, will meet all of your expectations at a much lower price.

Note: While it helps to be strict and stay within your budget, unforeseen circumstances may at times move you to spend a little outside of your budget. That may be okay for some items but try not to make it a habit!

Make a List and Prioritize

Making a list is crucial to sticking within a budget so you don’t buy more than you absolutely need. This comprehensive list of essential dorm items is a good starting point to get a general idea of what you should bring with you to college. Remember to prioritize the basic necessities beforehand – you don’t want to focus on buying an accent rug to accentuate your dorm and completely forget about comfortable bedding sheets!

At the same time, don’t be afraid to get creative and modify the list according to your personal needs! For instance, you might want to scrap the shower tote if you have your own bathroom. Whatever the case, make sure your list is practical and covers all the essentials first.

Double Check with Your Residence Hall

Before you begin shopping for college, you need to make sure that the items you’re purchasing aren’t already included in your dorm room and/or even permitted. There’s nothing worse than buying a desk bookshelf only to realize your dorm desk already comes with it. And depending on the school, there will definitely be some items (such as extension cords) that are not allowed within the residence hall building. Contacting your residence hall director is a tedious but necessary step to ensure you don’t spend more than you need.

Coordinate with Your Roommate

If you’re living with roommates, it helps to communicate with them to know what each of you are bringing on move-in day. You won’t need to go out and buy a TV if your roommate is already bringing one from home. Touch base with your roommate and decide who’ll bring what. That way, you both have a say in the overall organization and decor of your dorm room. There’s really no better feeling than crossing a few items off your list and avoiding unnecessary purchases! After all, you and your roommate(s) are bound to overlap on some items in your shopping lists.

Buy a Bundle

The easiest way to save on college shopping is to opt for a package that includes all of the basic items you’ll need for comfortable living in your dorm. Whether you need just bedding or the complete dorm set, college dorm packages offer all of the items you’ll ever need at a discounted price. Not to mention, you can choose from many different options in each category and customize items based on your personal taste. Think of it as a one-stop shop for a hassle-free college shopping experience that really saves you time and money.

Think Multifunctional

Dual-purpose items not only save space in your small dorm room, they save you money too! Instead of paying full price on two separate items, choose one that’s multifunctional and less costly. A shelving unit, like this Adjustable Shelving Stand can function as a TV stand, bookshelf, and storage all in one!

Ship with Ease

One thing that many parents and students leave out of their college shopping budget is the cost to ship items to the university. Shipping fees tend to add up and even surpasses the total amount you spent on dorm supplies at times! Shipping services like this box kit allow you to ship your belongings to your university around move-in day with ease. This particular kit comes with shipping boxes, packing tape and paper, and a prepaid label. All you do is pay a flat rate for the entire kit. It’s much more affordable than paying an arm and a leg to ship your stuff to school! After all, what good is it to be budget-conscious if you’re suddenly met with unexpected shipping charges? This kit will make college shopping and move-in day a budget-friendly, breezy experience.

Check these out!

How to Get Restful Sleep In College
So Your Roommate is a Perfect Match… What About Your Decor?
The Biggest Differences Between High School and College