College Lifestyle and Product Blog for Dorm Room Living | DormSmart: College Budgeting

Showing posts with label College Budgeting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label College Budgeting. Show all posts

July 24, 2015

Why Give Your Money to the Campus Coffeehouse? Brew Smarter in Your College Dorm Room and Save!

If you’re anything like me and 150 million other Americans, coffee is an essential part of your daily routine. Whether you drink the average 3.1 cups per day according to the National Coffee Association, simply need a cup to get you going in the morning, use caffeine as a study aid before big tests, or just crave a cup in the afternoon, students alike will find that it continues to be an important source of fuel throughout their college career; and, we all know how expensive it can be to buy coffee at your favorite campus coffeehouse. Most college students, including myself, are on a tight budget and cannot afford to spend the average $2.38 for a plain brewed cup of coffee or $3.45 on a specialty coffee once a day, let alone multiple times. A daily habit could be costing you over $100 a month, a big bite out of a student's budget. 

Fortunately for students, the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Coffeemaker Brew Package offers an affordable solution to your overpriced coffee woes with a few added benefits. 

  • At a mere $112.98, these brew packages include a competitively priced hospitality grade coffeemaker and 100 individually sealed European Coffeehouse Blend gourmet coffee pods by Java Brewing Company available in decaf or regular.
  • This coffee maker is specifically designed for high traffic community living, meaning they are made to last. 
  • Whether you are a freshman or seasoned upperclassman, you will find that most colleges only permit certain appliances. These coffeemakers are ideal for student living because they are UL Listed, auto shutoff, low wattage, and use no breakable glass carafes or warming plates, making them the safer choice. 
  • For you space challenged dorm dwellers, the FlexBrew is compact and takes up considerably less space than more expensive coffeemakers while offering the same great taste. 
  • They are K Cup, Soft Pod, and coffee ground compatible, so your coffee options are many.
  • Not a coffee lover? Not a problem! These coffeemakers can also be used to brew tea and cocoa for your other favorite hot drink options. 
  • Using coffee pods means no measuring or messy clean up. Within minutes, you can enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee without the hassle. This also means you won’t be stuck with an old pot of coffee at the end of the day, saving you time and money. 
  • Conveniently located in your dorm room, you can brew a quick cup of joe at any time even when your campus coffeehouse is closed at night or you are running late in the morning. 
  • Because they are made to stand up to repeated use, these coffee makers are not limited to dorm room living but will last throughout your college career and can be used in your first apartment or home. 

For those of you who must have your gourmet coffee fix, these brew packages can also be upgraded to include a variety selection of 108 Jo Coffee Single Serve Cups. Averaging less than $1 per cup, this coffee is a great way to get that specialty coffee taste at home for less than half the price of a cup at your favorite coffeehouse. Handcrafted using specialty beans from the top 2% of pure Arabica raw coffee worldwide, these coffee cups are offered in three unique flavors, New York Jo, Morning Jo, and Wild Jo. Not only does this coffee offer a superior taste, but it is also USDA Certified Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Kosher Certified, and Non-GMO with no additives. In addition, the eco-friendly filter cup technology serves to create the smoothest brewing extraction. Best of all, students can reorder these coffee cups throughout the semester on in quantities of 36, 72, or 108 cups. 

While I personally cannot deny my love for the occasional specialty coffee at my campus coffeehouse, my bank account certainly appreciates the daily use of a coffee maker at home. Combined with the flavorful coffee pods or cups included in this package, and your coffee needs will be easily fulfilled each semester! Be sure to enjoy your favorite beverage responsibly from now on with your FlexBrew Coffeemaker and gourmet Jo Coffee Cups.   

Brew Smarter! 

March 12, 2012

Stuck On Campus Over Spring Break? Plan A Staycation… Get the Dorm 411!

Not every college student can afford a trip over spring break, which may mean staying on campus. Instead of stressing about it or feeling left out, be proactive and plan a staycation! There are plenty of things you can do to create an affordable, fun-filled, and relaxing Spring Break Staycation on and around your college campus.

1.  Be a Tourist

You may be surprised by all of the interesting places you have yet to see in your college town (i.e. zoo, museums, parks, and historical landmarks…). Take this time to explore and learn more about your new home as a tourist.

2.  Evening Out with Fellow Staycationers 

Staying on campus over spring break does not mean that you cannot go out and have some fun. Check out that new movie you’ve wanted to see or eat at that local café that you have wanted to try for some time now.

3.  Be a Fan 

Go out and support your college team! If there are no home games scheduled over spring break, see if there are any minor league games taking place in the city. If whether permits, maybe tailgate before the game.

4.  Movie Night or Game Night 

If you do not feel like going out, try hosting a movie or game night for fellow staycationers in your residence hall. It is a fun and inexpensive way to spend an evening getting to know new people!

5.  Local Happenings 

Most colleges have a resource center that works to connect students with their surrounding city by keeping them informed about local happenings. Stop by your school resource center to get connected to local events taking place in your college town over spring break.

6.  Holiday Celebrations 

If your spring break happens to fall over the holiday, you can plan a celebration with your fellow staycationers. Everyone can bring food and introduce their holiday traditions. This is a great way to experience other cultures and expand your horizons without leaving campus.

7.  Scavenger Hunts 

Planning your own scavenger hunt is a great way for staycationers to get out and explore. Whether on campus or throughout the surrounding city, the search will keep you and your new friends entertained for hours! 

8.  Community Service 

With all of this extra time on your hands, it may be a great time to get in some volunteer hours. Contact your student resource center to learn about local volunteer opportunities available over spring break such as Habitat for Humanity or at a local animal shelter. You and your friends will have fun meeting new people all while helping those in need.

9.  Fun in the Sun 

Some great activities for staycationers in warm weather include going to the park, playing frisbee, getting a team together for a softball game, going hiking, going biking, or even swimming.

10. Get Ahead of the Class 

Once you have relaxed, use the remaining day or two of spring break staycation to get ahead in all of your classes. Read ahead, work on those final essays, study for your midterms, or spend time working on upcoming projects. When school starts back up, you will be relieved that you accomplished so much and did not procrastinate! 

So go ahead … enjoy your Spring Break Staycation and live Dorm Smart!

August 15, 2011

How to Ship Dorm Room Supplies Direct to Campus

Take advantage of Dormsmart's Free Campus Ship Program... just enter your student's campus shipping address provided by their University Housing Department as the "Delivery Address" during checkout!

Need more reasons to use DormSmart's Free Campus Shipping Program...


If you are in a hurry, DormSmart can ship your purchases direct to your college campus instead of having to move them to campus.


No additional charges apply at DormSmart when shipping purchases direct to your college campus within the 48 Contiguous US States, it is free. Additionally, students won't have to incur the additional cost of moving their dorm room supplies from home to campus.


Your dorm room supplies only ship once ... reducing your carbon footprint and saving trees (no additional packaging required).


Students don't have to pack, transport, and unpack their dorm room supplies multiple times!

*Free shipping only applies to campuses within the 48 US Contiguous States

August 10, 2011


With campus move in day fast approaching for many college bound students, it’s important to prepare BEFORE leaving for college. Here’s a few quick tips from Team DormSmart to make campus move in day go a little more smoothly…

TIP #1: Shop before Campus Move In Weekend

Campus move in weekend is INSANE! Many colleges have mandatory orientation sessions scheduled for parents and students over move in weekend leaving little time to unpack, let alone shop. It is best to shop for dorm supplies prior to move in weekend and pack them so that they can be easily located and unpacked. Grab  a copy of our Dorm Supplies Checklist to help you prepare and pack.

TIP #2: Check University Housing Regulations

Before shopping, check your university housing regulations for your dorm room. Let’s face it, everyone is feeling the budget crunch so you don’t want to waste money buying non compliant dorm appliances … any dorm supplies that may be considered contraband and confiscated.

TIP #3: Measure Your Dorm Room 

Every inch counts when planning and organizing your dorm room. If you have access and can get actual measurements, be sure to measure the room at the floor level to account for any base moldings or trim; meaning it may not seem like much but floor moldings and trim can take inches off an already small dorm room.

TIP #4: Know What Furniture You Need to Bring

What furniture does your school provide? Are you able to bring your own or required to use theirs?

TIP #5: Know the Shape and Size of Your Dorm Bed Legs

The one recurring problem we hear about from college students at DormSmart… the bed risers they picked up at the discount store don’t fit! If you are planning to raise your dorm bed for additional storage know the size and shape of your dorm bed legs to ensure your bed risers will fit properly.

TIP #6: Count the Outlets

Know how many outlets are in your dorm room so that you can purchase the right amount of surge protector strips with overload protection; make all your electronics work.

TIP #7: Get Ready for Campus Networking 

Don’t forget networking cables! While wireless access generally works in most common areas in your residence hall, many dorm rooms require wired access… at times the signal strength inside your dorm room is just too weak.

TIP #8: Get Familiar with Your Closet Space

Does your dorm room have a closet? If so, check the configuration of your closet. How many closet shelves are there? Measure the distance between shelves to ensure your storage containers will fit easily.

TIP #9: Coordinate with Your Roommate

Some dorm room supplies such as an iron, ironing board, coffeemaker, dorm rug, television, and printer can be shared. Sharing sounds a little scary at first but remember if sharing isn’t working out, you can always bring your own supplies over a break OR have mom and dad bring them over parent weekend. Just remember to make a list of who brought what if you're sharing dorm supplies... you'd be surprised how many roomies forget by the end of the school year!

TIP #10: Pay Attention to the Little Details

You’d be surprised how annoying it can be to overlook a small detail when it comes to dorm living! For example… Do you have a sink in your dorm room? Does it need a plug? Is there a medicine cabinet for toiletries in your dorm room or do you need a storage caddy?

Just a few tips to help you prepare for your dorm move and live dorm smart! Good luck!

July 7, 2011

Cheap College Trunks: Avoid the Pitfalls

"...As an online dorm store, we continually receive phone calls from prospective customers shopping for a quality trunk for their college bound or camp bound students... customers that have been burned by buying a cheap trunk in the past. I'd like to share their experiences with you, our dorm shoppers in hopes of helping you avoid the same pitfalls."

Vinyl Edging With Brads: Fell Apart During Shipping... A grandfather called in wanting information about Rhino Armor Trunks. He was shopping for a quality college trunk for his grandson but was a little apprehensive about what brand to buy. He had recently purchased a storage trunk for himself online and was disappointed when the trunk arrived at his home damaged. Apparently, it fell APART during shipping. It was one of those cheap college trunks with the vinyl edging that we warn our dorm shoppers about repeatedly. Steel edging and corners are a must have essential when it comes to college trunks!

Particle Board Construction: Punctured During Shipping... Another customer phoned saying he had purchased a trunk from a competitor and when it arrived it was punctured (had a hole in it). Apparently the trunk was cheaply made structurally using particle board instead of hardwood. The trunk was so cheaply made, it didn't even make it through the shipping process.

Cheap Non Load Bearing Wheels: Collapsed 1st Week of Camp... A  mom shopping for trunks for her college bound daughters pointed us to a review online where an individual had purchased a cheaper priced trunk from a competitor for their camp bound student. Apparently the permanently attached wheels collapsed the first week of summer camp. They were unable to support the weight of the trunk at full capacity.

Guidelines to Use When Trunk Shopping Bottom line, when it comes to storage trunks, you get what you pay for... Many times, we speak with parents or college students at DormSmart who purchased a cheap college trunk that could not hold up to the rigors of dorm life and are now shopping for a quality alternative. They didn't save money. If you can't afford to invest in a quality storage trunk for college, don't waste your money buying a cheaply made trunk. If budget is an issue,  you may want to consider looking for a quality used trunk. Whether you choose to buy a new or used college trunk, here are a few guidelines to use when trunk shopping:

  • Steel edging and corners versus plastic or vinyl corners with cheap brads.
  • An interior made of hardwood versus particle board, needs to be structurally sound. The trunk should be able to be multipurposed as additional dorm seating or a coffee table (able hold several college students at the same time).
  • Removable load bearing versus stationary wheels. Removable wheels prevents someone from taking your college trunk but makes it easy for you to transport. You also want your trunk wheels to glide smoothly when it is at full capacity so they need to hold a large amount of weight.
  • Leather versus vinyl handles.
  • Lifetime structural warranty if purchasing a a new trunk that can be serviced easily. If you reside in the US and the trunk is made outside the US, it may be costly to obtain repairs. 
Just my opinion! Live Dorm Smart!

December 6, 2010

Need A Fundraiser OR Want To Earn Extra Cash For College?

By Christi Leslie, Founder & CEO of
Creator of Dorm Smart Living

Fundraise for your school, charity, sorority,
or fraternity, team... OR earn extra cash for college!
The SKY Is The Limit With DormSmart's New Affiliate Program!

Did you know that more than 2,000,000 freshman head to the dorms every year? And that’s just freshman ... DormSmart also sells to college sophomores, juniors, seniors, grad students, law students, med students, high school students, camp bound students, private school students… not to mention the shoppers that just like DormSmart's products!

Bottom line, the sky is the limit when raising funds for your school, fraternity, sorority, organization, association, team... or earning extra cash for college with DormSmart's Affiliate Program!

How? DormSmart provides the tools to assist you in leveraging your website, facebook, twitter... all your social connections to earn extra cash!

Even better, being a DormSmart Affiliate gives you the assurance that your referrals will receive quality products at affordable prices with great customer service and free shipping!

Want to know more? Visit  DormSmart's Affiliate Program to get the details, join, and start earning money today!

September 2, 2010

Cheap isn't all it's cracked up to be! Cheap College Dorm Essentials, Cheap Dorm Buys... Cheap Cheap Cheap! Get the Dorm 411!

by Christi Leslie, Founder & CEO of
Creator of

OMG! We seldom vent at Dorm411, but every now and then we just have to cut loose.  We've been reading and hearing about how college bound students should buy cheap dorm products, cheap college dorm essentials, cheap dorm buys, cheap dorm supplies, cheap dorm trunks, cheap dorm appliances, cheap dorm rugs... cheap cheap cheap... seems to be today's popular buzz word, catch phrase... So we decided to go to and provide our smart dorm shoppers with the definition of cheap (see below).

Seriously, does a tough economy mean that retailers should pass cheap dorm supplies off on unsuspecting student shoppers? Obviously, we are all budget conscious, shopping for bargains, great values, but cheap? Would you put your child in a cheap car seat? Would you drive across a cheaply constructed bridge? Would you fly in a cheap airplane? Would you ride in a cheap elevator? Would you jump with a cheap parachute or cheap bungee cord? Seriously, would you? And, have you seen some of the price tags on those cheap college dorm essentials?

Remember these sayings:

"You get what you pay for."
"Nothing in life is free."
"Quality over quantity."
"A cheap price is a short cut to being cheated."
"If it sounds too good to be true it probably is."

At Dorm411, we are not saying you shouldn't shop for a bargain, but you need to be careful when it comes to buying certain college dorm essentials such as dorm bedding for a good nights sleep (important for student success in college), electrical appliances such as coffee makers, irons, computer equipment (don't want to burn down your residence hall)... and safety products (take campus safety seriously)... need we say more? Maybe we'll say a little more... why would you choose to buy a cheap knock off iron without auto shutoff then buy a separate auto shutoff outlet to turn it off instead of choosing to buy a quality auto shutoff iron and having it shipped to your campus for the same price? Hello?  How is that dorm smart? OK... that's all we are saying on this matter! Thanks for listening!

Let us know your thoughts on the matter...


cheap   /tʃip/ Show Spelled [cheep] Show IPA adjective, -er, -est, adverb, noun


1. costing very little; relatively low in price; inexpensive: a cheap dress.

2. costing little labor or trouble: Words are cheap.

3. charging low prices: a very cheap store.

4. of little account; of small value; mean; shoddy: cheap conduct; cheap workmanship.

5. embarrassed; sheepish: He felt cheap about his mistake.

6. obtainable at a low rate of interest: when money is cheap.

7. of decreased value or purchasing power, as currency depreciated due to inflation.

8. stingy; miserly: He's too cheap to buy his own brother a cup of coffee.


9. at a low price; at small cost: He is willing to sell cheap.


10. cheap at twice the price, exceedingly inexpensive: I found this old chair for eight dollars—it would be cheap at twice the price.

11. on the cheap, Informal . inexpensively; economically: She enjoys traveling on the cheap.



bef. 900; ME cheep (short for phrases, as good cheep cheap, lit., good bargain), OE cēap bargain, market, trade; c. G Kauf, ON kaup; all < L caupō innkeeper, tradesman; see chapman

—Related forms

cheapish, adjective

cheap·ish·ly, adverb

cheaply, adverb

cheapness, noun

o·ver·cheap, adjective

o·ver·cheap·ly, adverb

o·ver·cheap·ness, noun

un·cheap·ly, adverb


1, 4. Cheap, inexpensive agree in their suggestion of low cost. Cheap now usually suggests shoddiness, inferiority, showy imitation, complete unworthiness, and the like: a cheap kind of fur. Inexpensive emphasizes lowness of price (although more expensive than cheap ) and suggests that the value is fully equal to the cost: an inexpensive dress. It is often used as an evasion for the more specific cheap. 4. paltry, low, poor, inferior, base.


1. costly, dear, expensive. 8. generous, charitable.

August 31, 2010

Last Minute Dorm Shopping Tips For College Bound Students, Making The Right Dorm Buys... Get the Dorm 411!

by Christi Leslie, Founder & CEO of
Creator of

Dorm season is upon us! Many of us are scrambling about trying to make the right decisions when it comes to purchasing supplies for our dorm room while shopping on a budget. It can be a confusing and frustrating time for dorm shoppers! With that in mind, DormSmart has the following three tips when shopping online for college dorm essentials, making those last minute dorm buys…


Life is busy! It seems like we have all the time in the world to finish our dorm shopping during the summer then realize it is here! DO NOT PANIC! Do not purchase the wrong dorm products because you are out of time. Purchase the right dorm essentials then have them shipped to your campus delivery address. You may have to improvise for a few days. For example, if you are waiting on dorm bedding, take your sleeping bag. It will be used for sleepovers… spring break… it’s dorm sized. In the end you will be much happier and probably spend less money. It’s like going to the grocery store without a list when we are hungry, we tend to overspend. Just take a deep breath, work through the process, and try to be patient. It will all come together.


We’ve all done it. We see a product we really like and just buy it only to realize when it’s delivered; it was not quite what we were expecting. For many of you planning to study retailing in college, it is known as an impulse buy. While the retail industry loves impulse buyers, it is probably best to learn how to control these impulses early in adulthood so you do not have to experience buyer’s remorse.

One tip for preventing buyer’s remorse is to thoroughly research and compare dorm products, meaning you need take the time to read the product description thoroughly and view the enlarged photos… trust us… It will save a lot of frustration… headache… time and cost associated with returning dorm products or worse having to replace your college dorm essentials and incur a loss.


For most of us in today’s economy, price is an issue. We are all stretching our budgets to pay our college tuition and fees and buy our textbooks. On top of that, we are tasked with furnishing a dorm room… basically a studio apartment. Let’s face it; mom needs her ironing board and iron, her dishes… So, how do we balance price and quality without overspending?

Remember to make a shopping list of what you NEED to purchase; those must have college dorm essentials. Most of you will be in college at least 4 years so you have time to add those little extras. At DormSmart, we have yet to uncover a “cheap quality dorm product” so use your money wisely to buy quality dorm products at affordable prices. Otherwise you may have to do this again next summer and that will not save you money. Once you have your list of MUST HAVE college dorm essentials, it’s time to balance quality with price...

Let’s walk through a shopping example using a dorm trunk:

A dorm trunk is one of those multipurpose dorm products that you can use as dorm storage, to travel to college or camp (football, cheerleading, band…) in the summers, and as dorm room seating. Bottom line, your dorm trunk will probably take a beating over the next several years so you want to search for dorm trunks made of quality products then select the one that best fits your price point. For example, the ideal dorm trunk will have:
  • Steel edging and corners versus plastic or vinyl corners with cheap brads.
  • An interior made of hardwood versus particle board, needs to be structurally sound.
  • Removable versus stationary wheels. You do not want to make it easy for someone to take your dorm trunk but you want it to be easy for you to move.
  • Leather versus vinyl handles.
  • Lifetime warranty.
The only way to identify the criteria above is to read the product detail… do your homework. If the retailer does not provide that information then it probably is a red flag… move on to the next prospect / store until you find the dorm trunk for you then check it against your budget. It may be a little more than you want to spend but a cost savings in the long run; or you may be pleasantly surprised, realizing it fits into your budget. Look for offers of free shipping and discount coupons, especially on big ticket items like dorm trunks.

If you find yourself trying to choose between quality and looks, maybe you wanted that really cool looking collegiate trunk or polka dot trunk but it is not well made… consider choosing the quality dorm trunk and purchasing peel and stick decals to get your desired effect. Let’s face it, you can always change the look of the quality dorm trunk but you cannot change the quality of the cheap dorm trunk.

Just a few tips for living and shopping dorm smart! Good luck at school!