How To Save Money On Dorm Furniture For A College Freshman

Universities across the country will be filling up their dorms and surrounding apartment complexes from now until the next three weeks. I remember my first experience going away to school. I didn’t have much, because my dorm was about the size of a medium sized bedroom, and I shared it with one other guy. I brought a computer, bedding, clothes, and a chair. We already had a bed and desk provided to us. However, many large universities don’t have enough dorms to house all of their college freshman, so some freshman need to look for alternative off-campus housing. For these freshman, the cost to go away to school rises even further, because now you need to furnish an entire apartment. If your buying furniture for your kid, make sure you don’t go overboard buying furniture that is too nice for the space it will be in. When you’re looking for dorm/apartment furniture, look for utility. Here are a few places to start looking to find quality furniture at cheap prices.

  1. Craigslist. Scour your local Craigslist and better yet, the Craigslist of the city where the college is located near. Bedroom sets, dining tables, couches, chairs, and desks are all easy to find on Craigslist. Make sure you put on your negotiating hat when contacting sellers on Craigslist. Many sellers on Craigslist price their stuff high, because they anticipate buyers to negotiate the price down.
  2. Garage Sales. Don’t look for junk. You can find some quality furniture at garage sales that might have no place in your house, but it works great for a dorm or college apartment. This is how you need to think when shopping for college furniture for your kids. Don’t think, “Ewww I would never buy that”, think, “We could make that work in his/her apartment”.
  3. IKEA. IKEA is a great place to find affordable dorm and college apartment furniture. Their lower end furniture is not the best quality, but it’s durable enough to last a couple of years, and it works very well in small spaces. If there is an IKEA store near you, make the trip, because you can find a lot of cheap furniture like bookcases, night stands, living room tables, lamps, mirrors, and storage bins for under $50!
  4. Furniture Outlets. We recently purchased an entertainment center for half its retail price at the Rooms-To-Go outlet, and it’s good enough to stay in our home for years to come. If your child needs a couch, bed frame, dining table, or any other large piece, you can find great deals at furniture outlets. If the piece has a few scratches or imperfections on it, don’t be afraid to ask for an additional discount or free shipping.

As a former college student, I can tell you that furniture gets used and abused while in school. Plus, college kids typically move around a lot during their four years, which means that furniture you buy them could be getting banged around in a truck someday or even sold to make some extra money for course books. Get your college freshman furniture that’s functional and looks decent, but don’t go overboard. It’s not worth it!

  • Craig

    There also are usually thrift stores around college campus that you can pick up some cheap items.

  • Morthon Conley

    I like the tips. I also wanted to add another way on saving money in school. I recently found a website that saved me a lot of money on text books. I saved almost $500 last semester. I was always tired of buying textbooks that were so expensive and have the possibility of them not buying them back. I now rent text books. You can save up to 65%-85%. I also wanted to share a code they gave me to share to everyone that would give you an additional 5% off your entire purchase. Here’s the code: CC100221. I also forgot, the website is

  • Mike

    You may also want to take a look at They have a lot of affordable, good looking decor items for your dorm or college apartment.

  • Tanya

    Great store ideas. I love IKEA! Also like Craig said, thrift stores are good too. For a really inexpensive price you can find an old dresser at a thrift store or garage sale sand it down and re-paint it. It looks great.

    • Erik Folgate

      great tip tanya! Thanks.

  • Save Money Hound

    Good tips. Another one to add is people throwing away their old furniture on local Council special collection days. People throw away furniture that is in good order.

  • Alex

    I had great luck with Chegg. I saved $400 on textbooks as an incoming freshman! The books were in great shape, shipped fast and included the CDs. Save an extra 5% with promo code CC101071. Use the same code and get an extra $5.00 when selling your old used textbooks.

  • Chegg coupon

    Don’t buy your tetbooks your just wasting money!! Rent them from and return them when the semester is over!! You can save up to 65-85% off

    Use code : CC105203  to get 5% off your entire order PLUS free shipping !! 

    Use the same code ( CC105203 )  and get an extra $5.00 when selling you old textbooks!

  • Mac

    Used furniture is very cheap, and a college freshman doesn’t need anything better than that. If they’re really in a pinch, stop by walmart or target and pick up some inflatable furniture. Looks kind funky, but cheap & functional.

  • Vijaya

    I have been using price comparison sites like for buying my textbooks. It is better than going for standalone stores. As you can save on lot of money using them.