5 Hacks: How to Move into a Dorm on a Budget

Moving into a dorm room can be a stressful and time-consuming task. Whether you’re entering your first semester, or about to go into your senior year, moving is just plain hard… and expensive. Student loans and the overwhelming cost of education cause many students to be financially stressed in college.

how to move into a dorm on a budget

Expenses like school supplies, books, decorations, and furniture at the beginning of the school year add up and quickly put a strain on your wallet. To avoid money-related stress, here are five easy hacks on how you can move into a dorm on a budget: 

1. Plan Ahead

Nothing is more frustrating than unpacking your bags after the long drive (or flight! to) campus and finding that you’re missing essentials you won’t be able to get through the semester without! Shopping after all that travel for something you need RIGHT NOW means you probably won’t have time to hunt for a deal. Talk about stressful!

So, how to move into a dorm without forgetting the essentials and causing a big expensive shopping trip moments after you arrive? Instead of waiting until the last minute to pack, start the process early. Keep a checklist on your phone of everything you’ll need. When you think of something you’ll need, immediately add it to the list! If you find you need to buy a few things before you leave for college, you won’t need to rush to make a purchase, and you can instead take your time and find the best deals (bonus points if you can remember when your parents are treating you to a supply run!). 

jar of money for savings for dorm emergencies

2. Put Money Aside for an Emergency

Unfortunately, even if you prepare in advance, emergencies happen. Anything from accidentally packing your box cutter in the bottom of a box to a coffee spill can mess up your move-in day and require a quick and sometimes costly fix. Be prepared for these emergencies and don’t reach into savings.

This tip might tie first place when it comes to how to move into a dorm: create an emergency fund. An emergency fund is a small amount of money put aside for any emergency purchases you might need in a (you guessed it!) emergency. We recommend you start your fund at $50-200, but the amount you’ll need depends on your lifestyle and the value of your things. To easily start your fund, put aside small amounts of money every month leading up to your move-in day. It can start small but add up quickly over time and get you ready for your next dorm move!

If this is your first time creating an emergency fund, consider setting up a separate digital savings account so you can manage your money online and in an organized fashion. This will prevent you from withdrawing money too early since it won’t be linked to a debit card. If you’re lucky and don’t have any financial emergencies, you can keep it around for next year’s move in. After all, it’s better to have an emergency fund that you’ll never need to use than needing money that you don’t have!

student with backpack

3. Try DIY

Everyone wants their space to be stylish and comfortable, so it may be tempting to splurge on the most fashionable and trending decorations and furniture. The downside to this is that these pieces can be costly and take up a major part of your budget.

On the plus side, however, they can also be a huge help in keeping your dorm comfortable enough for all-night study sessions. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid needing to buy pricey decorations for your room. If you’re a crafty person, there are DIY options for any expensive decoration you can think of. You’ll spend a fraction of the price on materials, and it’s a great way to bond with friends or roommates. Look online for a variety of dorm DIY decor ideas, and once you have an idea of what you want, take a trip down to your local arts and crafts store and get the supplies you need!

neatly decorated dorm

4. Talk to Your RA

Use. Your. Resources. Your RA is there to help make the transition to college as easy as possible for you. They are students just like you, so they have experienced how to move into a dorm specifically on your campus. See if they have tips maintaining a budget throughout the semester! Most RAs will have tips on how to save money while moving in, as well as provide you with assistance.

Most colleges will give you the contact information of your RA well before you move in. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for advice on how to make the transition to your dorm as simple and as cost-effective as possible. They’re going to love helping out, and it never hurts to practice your networking skills and get to know your RA before you get to campus!

5. Use a Storage Service

Finally, remember that self-storage is always an option, and can save you a lot of money. These are particularly useful if you have a lot of heavy furniture to bring back and forth every year or travel long distances between your home and campus. Using a storage service allows you to have a safe place to store larger belongings during the summer. Bonus! It costs can start as low as $20/month! Since your items will be secure, you’ll also inevitably save money and time! You won’t worry about theft or replacing items that get damaged during your move when you use self-storage.

They can also be useful for storing vehicles. If your college is not driving distance from home and you need to keep your vehicle in a safe spot for a long period of time, self-storage is the safest solution. On top of that, there are plenty of available storage types for storing anything you might need between semesters. When it’s time to move in, you can simply pick everything up and bring it to your campus.

storage box for college

Moving into a dorm room can be stressful and costly. With the right amount of preparation, you can make your next move a breeze! Spend your extra time getting to know your new roommates and getting ready for classes!