Back-to-school shopping is almost in full swing again, but for new high-school grads ready to head off to college, things like laptops and dorm room supplies take priority over notebooks and pencils. Gearing up for college can get expensive, but there's no need to overspend if you keep an eye on your budget. Whether you're in a dorm or living off campus, here are 25 tried-and-true items for college freshmen that won't break the bank.
Price: $10 | Buy it at Ikea
Dorm lighting is notoriously bad, and some apartments may not have any overhead lighting at all. A small desk lamp with a long-lasting LED bulb is a must, and this one is one of our favorite finds at Ikea. The flexible arm on this one also makes it easy to direct light where you need it.
Price: $23 | Buy it at Amazon
A sturdy laundry bag is essential for schlepping those dirty clothes around. This one can double as a hamper and folds flat for storage when you don’t need it. It also serves as an all-purpose tote for loads up to 55 pounds.
Price: $19 | Buy it at Amazon
Save a ton of money by trading in your morning Starbucks habit for a personal coffee maker. This compact version is one of Cheapism's favorite money-saving models. It works with grounds and soft pods and includes a 15-ounce travel mug for when you need to get to class quickly.
Price: $19 | Buy it at Amazon
The chance that your new digs will have enough outlets in convenient spots? Close to zilch. A power strip with a surge protector that will protect your electronics will always be a sensible buy. This one has a long 8-foot cord that will help you set up your gadgets exactly how you want them.
Price: $449 | Buy it at Amazon
A good laptop will be an integral part of every day, for both work and play. This Chromebook with a high-definition 12.5-inch screen. It can also be used as a tablet, has a battery that lasts up to 10 hours, and weighs under 3 pounds — perfect for carrying to class.
Price: $79 | Buy it at Walmart
Papasans, bean bags, and butterfly chairs are all well and good, but if you want extra seating, you might as well get something that can pull double duty. This flip chair folds out to become a bed in a pinch — perfect for that friend who wants to crash in your room.
Price: $50 | Buy it at Amazon
Noisy roommate? Party in the apartment next door? Zone out with this inexpensive, lightweight pair of noise-canceling headphones. They're good for reducing low-frequency background noise and pair easily with your devices via Bluetooth.
Price: $20 | Buy it at Walmart
These lightweight Sterilite drawers add extra storage, but the espresso basket-weave finish makes them a little easier on the eyes than most plastic sets. And they're opaque, just in case you don’t want your roomie constantly staring into your underwear drawer.
Price: $6.69 | Buy it at Amazon
Make it easy for friends or roomies to leave messages while you’re out by putting a dry-erase board on your dorm-room or refrigerator door. It mounts easily with double-sided Velcro strips, and the surface is magnetic for additional versatility.