Save on dorm-room shopping

August 13, 2013 2:59:57 PM PDT
Leah Ingram is the blogger behind "Suddenly Frugal." Her daughter, Jane Behre, is about to start her freshman year at Barnard.

So, when it came time to shop for Behre's dorm room, it's no surprise these two women put their heads together to figure out the smartest ways to save money.

In fact, Behre began planning last Christmas -- asking for gift cards instead of presents.

"I just started asking for gift cards from different places," she explains. "That way I could use these gift cards to buy things for dorm rooms. I wouldn't have to go spend my own money or my parents' money."

And, even with her gift cards in hand, Behre didn't start her shopping at a store.

She says, "I went shopping at home. I looked for things like laundry bags, hampers, and hangers that I could just find that we already had at home. And I figured why spend the money if we already have it right here and it's good as anything in the store?"

And while stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond offer shopping lists for different colleges and universities, Ingram and Behre found the list on the Barnard University website was shorter and more specific. So when they did hit the stores, they limited expenses by using coupons and sticking to that list.

Ingram says, "Buying items for a kid's college dorm is a lot like going to the grocery store. If you're looking to stay on budget, you need to stick to your list. So, have it on hand with you bring a pen with you, and mark off what you got."

In addition to shopping at retail stores, the mother-daughter duo checked out the Impact Thrift Store in Feasterville, Pa.

Among the finds there -- an anti-bed-bug mattress cover that was $35 at Bed, Bath and Beyond -- new in the package for $3.99.

And while they didn't like the idea of buying linens that were pre-owned, Jo Greenawalt of Impact says lots of students find great deals on beautiful, "like-new" sheets and towels.

Greenawalt explains, "When you think about when you go to high -end hotels, you're not sleeping on brand-new sheets when you go in there. Somebody else slept on those sheets and they were laundered and put back on the bed again. Same thing with the towels in a high-end hotel. You use somebody else's towels. Same thing here. You buy it here, you're going to go home as a conscientious parent and you're going to wash them first. There really is no difference."

To find an Impact Thrift near you, click here.

And for money-saving tips from Ingram, click here to check out her Suddenly Frugal website. Click here for her dorm-shopping advise.


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