Not to get all, “When I was your age…” on you, but in my day, college dorms looked more like the state penitentiary than actual housing. To spruce them up, we decorated with things like photocopies of Matthew McConaughey’s picture and other gems we tore out of magazines. You know, stuff that would really class the joint up. Decorating a dorm room is a different game now. There are way better options for decor on the cheap, and plenty of ways to save on all the essentials.

1. Shop Target and IKEA for the best decor and price.

First lesson, if you think you have to sacrifice aesthetics for savings, you’re going to love me for what I’m about to tell you—you can have both! Target and IKEA put a lot of effort into stocking good-looking furniture and essentials that appeal to college students (read: it’s cute AND inexpensive). Even Walmart is more conscious of design these days, but their designs seem to appeal to a slightly younger crowd.

2. Use Bed Bath & Beyond 20% off coupons long after they expire.

You know those 20% off coupons from Bed Bath & Beyond? I can never seem to use them before they expire. The good news is, you don’t have to! Yep, you heard me right. They will accept the coupons long after the expiration date. That means you can stock up on them and use them to save on all the essentials.

3. Buy discounted gift cards from

Use discounted gift cards to make your own sales at tons of major retail and online stores. lets you buy cards at a discount, with savings of anywhere from 5-40% (the average being about 15%). Stack those discounts with store sales for even bigger savings.

Related: Top 20 Stores That Offer Student Discounts

4. Get six months of free Amazon Prime.

In another “I wish I’d had that at your age” moment, college students can also save by getting a six month Amazon Prime membership for FREE! Their Amazon Student program allows anyone with a .edu email address to get a six month prime membership that includes free 2-day shipping, access to free photo storage, and unlimited free streaming movies and TV shows.

5. Use Google Advanced Search to find the best deals on Craigslist.

If you wanted to search the Los Angeles metro area for a mini fridge for your dorm, it might take forever since there are so many listings and Craigslist’s search function is limited to only a few filters. Google Advanced Search lets you customize this search and helps you get only the results you need (for instance, get four quality results versus over two hundred random listings). If you’re looking for a mini fridge, here’s an example of how to fill out the various Google Advanced Search fields to get the best deal:

  • All these words: mini fridge
  • This exact word or phrase: “or best offer”
  • Any of these words: dorm
  • None of these words: full size
  • Site or domain:
  • Last updated: past month

6. Stack up to four coupon codes at

I owned (and loved) two essential kitchen appliances in college: a George Foreman Grill and a coffeemaker. At Kohl’s, appliances are some of the best things you can buy—especially when you know how to stack the savings! Use up to four of the below codes when you shop online:

  1. Up to one sitewide percent-off coupon code (ex: 15% off an entire purchase).
  2. Up to four department-specific, percent-off, or dollar-off coupon codes (ex: 20% off home bedding, $10 off a $30 children’s apparel purchase).
  3. Up to four Kohl’s rewards codes (ex: Kohl’s Cash and Yes2You Rewards).
  4. Up to one free shipping code (ex: free shipping on any order).

Make sense? One sitewide+two department specific+Kohl’s Cash. Or, one sitewide+three Kohl’s Cash. You can’t use more than four codes total.

Related: 29 Genius (and Accurate!) Kohl’s Shopping Hacks

Ultimate Guide to Saving on Your College Dorm Room