25 tips to save money on college dorm room essentials

As fall approaches, students go back to school or college. And that means time for back to school shopping on college dorm room essentials. Books, tuition, student housing and extra fees are already expensive. Outfitting the dorm room can put parents over the top financially. Here's money-saving mom's budget dorm room shopping guide.

First, focus on dorm room essentials. Skip the funsy-cutsy non-essentials. Stores and colleges would have parents believe college kids need. all kids of junk they don't. Think "need" not want. Get best prices at Walmart, Target, Amazon, Best Buy, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, Dollar General and TJ Maxx. Watch secondhand stores and other store sales. Use Walmart Savings Catcher to make sure your Walmart purchases were the lowest prices available.

Dorm room essentials: (check first to see what furniture dorms provide, typically bed, desk, shelves, closet)
-branched floor lamp (one light for reading in bed and one light for the desk): $10
-microwave oven: talk with roommates about chipping
in on a microwave. Pick one up for $40
-bed set: includes comforter, fitted sheet, 2 pillow cases. Some come with cushioned lap desk: $36. Send sheets and blankets, skip pillow shams and bed skirt.
-pillow: $5-$10 Choose a good comfortable pillow. This is essential for proper rest. Don't allow your college student to use the provided pillow.
-rug or bath mat: $4
-alarm clock: $5
-personal toiletries set in shower caddy or zippered bag. Student should stow supplies in container to prevent spread of germs in shared bathrooms, under $10.
-shower shoes, flip flops or pool shoes for use in shared bathroom
-portable dorm refrigerator: $59. Stock with beverages and food, to prevent temptation to spend big money at the college dining room or cafeteria.
-bath towel set: includes two bath towels, two hand towels, two washcloths: $10 at Wal-mart.
-dorm room appliances: toaster, coffee maker and electric hot pot for heating up soup and canned foods. $7 each at Walmart. Send a hand can opener.
-pop-up clothes hamper and hanging shelf organizer (holds ten pairs of shoes and has three larger shelves for sweaters, tee-shirt, jeans or towels. Hamper zips shut for ease of carrying to laundromat or home. $20 for the set at Walmart.
-back pillow for studying in bed, under $20
-6 plastic totes with lids (18 gallons each): $24 at Wal-mart. Plastic totes are an excellent way to transport and store dorm rooms supplies and clothing. Six should be the perfect amount for supplies.
-dorm chair: don't get a bean bag or orbit dish chair. These are quite uncomfortable for older teens and adults. Get a clearance lawn chair with arms or a plush club chair that folds

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