If anyone has mastered the concept of frugality, it is the college student. Most are living on a limited budget, having little or no income while balancing classes, homework, extra-curricular activities and a social life. They know how to make the most of the money they have.
• Check with family members to see if they have anything the student can use, if only on a temporary basis.
• Shop thrift stores. Rather than try and ship large items or drive them down, scour local thrift stores for items like desks, beds and tables. When the school year is over, it can be donated back to the school.
• Go through hallways and alleys at the end of the school year and look for other students' discards. Seniors won't be needing their furniture the following year, and may leave it in the hall for anybody to claim. Only take these items if you have space to store them over the summer.
• Shop online. This will avoid having to ship or transport your items yourself. Many stores offer in-store pick-up so there won't be a shipping fee. You can order in your own town, and pick it up in the college town.
• Check for student discounts on items. For example, there might be back-to-school deals on electronics and home goods. Often, the city in which the school is located has student discounts on transporation and entertainment.
• Check with your school to see what they offer for 'free'. This might be meals, plays, sporting events or movies at the campus theater.
• Many schools offer excellent discounts on travel over the holidays or spring break.
• Shop sales. Like any other town, there are probably big box stores within a reasonable distance from the school that will have sales on food, toiletries and paper goods.
• Think reusable. Rather than stocking up on paper plates, cups and cutlery, purchase inexpensive plates, mugs, glasses and flatware. Not only will this save money in the long run, it will teach the student the responsibilty of cleaning and maintaining their own space.
• Check with the school. There are many items that schools will not allow in their dorms. This includes things like halogen lights, candles and microwave ovens. Once the school confiscates it, it's gone. So don't waste money on things that will be taken away. Check the rules before buying anything.