5 Ways to Save Money While Back to College Shopping


  • Going back to college after a fun summer break is hard enough already. Don’t make things more painful by spending all of your money on school supplies. Follow these 5 ways to save cash.
  • Ask certain retailers and companies about back to school discounts.
  • Don’t be fooled by “dorm-specific” items. These are just smaller versions of regularly priced items.
  • See if you can borrow dorm items or textbooks from your college.
  • Focus on buying higher-quality products to avoid having to replace other supplies often.
  • Implement DIY projects for items that can easily be replaced. 

Well, it’s that time again. Summer vacation is slowly winding down and college students are preparing to head back for the fall semester. Whether you’re a college student yourself or you have children that are returning to college, it’s time for some back to school shopping.

Aside from the inflated price of textbooks, there’s no hiding the fact that shopping for college supplies can get mighty expensive. Gone are the days of only needing to purchase a cartoon backpack, pencils, erasers, and a lunchbox. As you set off to prepare for the new semester, consider the following 5 ways you could save money on back to college shopping.

#1: Inquire About Discounts

Whether you’re looking for computer software or needing a mini-fridge to store those late-night caffeinated beverages and snacks, check with certain stores to see if they offer student discounts. A lot of companies such as Microsoft and BestBuy will offer 10%-15% off certain products with a student I.D.

If you need a simple backpack, Staples is currently giving students 20% off all school supplies. Stop by your local branch to see if this discount applies to college students.

#2: Don’t Be Fooled By “Dorm” Advertisement

So, you’ll more than likely notice signs advertising “dorm-specific” items while shopping. Do not be fooled by this misinformed label. Another word for “dorm-specific” is small. However, once retailers slap that deceptive label onto one of their products, they can immediately sell it for 10%-20% more.

Items that are crafted “specifically” for a dorm are just customized to fit into the smaller living space. You can easily search and find smaller furniture that’s perfect for your dorm room at regular price. Avoid marketed displays that try to convince you that an item is a “must buy.”

#3: Borrow Items From College

Some of the items you’ll use for college will only be needed while class is in session. At the end of the school year, you’ll more than likely need to put some of your things in storage. Moving and storing your items will cost you time and money.

Many colleges have items such as mini-fridges or toaster ovens that you can rent during the school year. This can save you from spending a lot of money upfront on bigger purchases. You may even be able to rent textbooks or buy them used from several different websites.

#4: Quality is Better than Quantity

It’s much more cost-efficient to spend a little extra money on higher-quality school supplies than to continuously replace cheaper items. If you prefer to take hand-written notes, it’s cheaper, in the long run, to purchase a mechanic pencil rather than several lead ones.

Instead of buying new towels or bed sheets every semester because you went the cheap route, invest in higher-quality material that will last a few years.

#5: Be Creative With Your Purchases

Instead of buying a new bed and a bookshelf, look for a bed that has a shelf built-in to the headboard. Rather than buying bins for your extra shoes or clothes in addition to a coffee table, purchase a coffee table that has space inside for your items.

In regard to dorm room decorations and accessories, purchase only the things that you’ll need to last a while such as a bed, desk, and nightstand. For things like picture frames, organizers, and extra storage take a crack at making these items yourself by repurposing other materials. DIY projects can save you a lot of money.