10 Dorm Tips to Help You Save Space and Money

Two things are always extremely limited when you're in college: space and money. Here are 10 ways to organize your dorm room while saving both!

College is all about the new and exciting, and more than a little about—well, a little. It’s not just money that’s short for students; space is also at a premium. Dorm rooms mean living in tight quarters with strangers, and even off-campus housing usually comes with roommates. It does a lot to save you money, but it can make your life feel cramped and cluttered. These space-saving hacks are perfect for college students no matter the living situation. Not only will they make living in small areas a breeze, but they’ll save you money too!

1. Focus on multiuse furniture

Floor space is at a premium in a dorm room. The best way to maximize your “territory” is to find furniture that can multitask: a headboard with shelving, a rolling table you can use for study and at your bedside, etc. Look for furniture that does double duty and you’ll need to buy less of it!

Related: Making the Most of Your Dorm Space

2. Portable furniture

Choosing portable or collapsible furniture is another way to save space. Rolling storage can also make it easier to move things around to save space when you need it. Bean bag chairs take up far less space than having extra seating in your room, and they’re comfy too!

3. Hang it up

Since you need more room, make use of your vertical spaces. Buying cheap adhesive wall hooks will make a lot more space available. It makes it easier to hang up shelving or other affordable, light storage solutions. Hanging lights are another way to maximize surface space since they take up less room than standing lamps. Buy cheap by using hanging shelves and shoe racks just like you would for your closet.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Decorating Dorm Room Walls

4. Sell or swap your textbooks

Buyback programs in your school’s bookstore can save you a bundle when you’re first buying textbooks, but that’s not all they can do for you. They also offer easy cash at the end of every term. Selling your books is a great way to keep down clutter and save space in your room. Textbooks take up a lot of valuable storage real estate, and you often don’t even need the full book. Get what you can from the school library or book sharing program at your college.

5. Maximize your closet space

Dorm closets aren’t exactly huge, but you can find ways to make more space, and it’s a lot simpler and cheaper than you think. Add an extra hanging rod for just a couple dollars and you can double your closet space. Hanging shoe racks and shelves make for great dresser space inside your closet, and folded clothes take up a lot less space than hanging them up. A few clear totes on the bottom of your tiny closet will give you even more space.

6. …and under-the-bed storage

Speaking of all that hidden floor space, make use of the unused space under your bed with large totes, and buy some bed risers to create even more. Maximizing storage is especially handy when you’ve got winter clothes and your next trip home isn’t until the end of the semester. If you don’t have everything you need at the ready, you’re more likely to spend money later.

7. Use a tote to carry bathroom supplies

Sharing a bathroom with a floor or a troupe of roommates isn’t easy. If you don’t want to end up paying for someone else’s shampoo, the best solution is an organized tote. Keep it compact and in your closet so you can always grab it when you need it.

Related: A List of the Most Important Things to Bring to College

8. Use binder clips to keep cords in good shape

Electronics are one of your biggest expenses in college. Between your smartphone, laptop, tablet, and more, your electronics are even more expensive than your textbooks. An easy way to save the cash is to buy a used laptop or tablet. But cord accidents are always a risk. We’ve all been there—cords get tangled and damaged and need to be replaced. Keep your cables organized quickly and cheaply with binder clips. Sticking a few to the side of your desk keeps your cords organized, untangled, and most importantly, off the crowded floor where they can be trampled.

9. Ditch the car

The best thing you can do to save on expenses in college is to take public transit. Car payments, insurance, repairs, and gas all cost money. Many schools also charge extra for parking privileges. And finding space? Parking on a busy college campus is not practical most of the time. Save yourself the money and the trouble; skip the hassle of finding the right place to put your car and leave it at home.

10. DIY whenever possible    

It can take a bit of practice to work out what’s worth saving, but college will make you an expert on repurposing items. There are plenty of cute craft ideas to help you stay organized and save money. Use plastic or glass bottles to save your change in. (You’ll need it!) Old boxes can be set under your desk or in your closet for extra storage. Check out some cute ideas for decorating online and make use of your used items.

Related: Operation Anti-Clutter: How to Clean Up Your Dorm Room

College means a tight budget and tighter living quarters. Maximizing both takes a little thinking and a lot of creative DIY. But these hacks can help you keep the clutter out of your space without spending a bundle on storage or carrying around things you don’t need. Every little bit helps, and not only will these space-saving hacks help you claim every inch of your space, but they’ll free up some of your cash too.

Move-in day is just around the corner! For more dorm room hacks and college life advice, check out our Student Life section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Alex Avery

Once a serial student, now an online nomad, Alex leaves blog posts in every place that peaks his interest. When he’s not devouring obscure French graphic novels, he’s hunting yard sales for quirky teacups and learning to play the ukulele from YouTube vids.  


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Victoria Fuss

Victoria Fuss

March Madness Scholarship Winner, Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me dramatically. Moving on to the next level has been a dream of my mine since I was just a young kid, and the support and help CollegeXpress has given me will help me further my education. I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone at CollegeXpress!



High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has provided me with tips that were for college students, but as a high school junior, they were still very useful. Not only that, it also gave me an idea of what to expect when it comes to going to college or already being in college. I want to say thank you to CollegeXpress, and I hope you continue the wonderful tips until I hopefully get into college and throughout my college journey.



High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress showed me that Western New England University was a great match for me both with curriculum and location. CollegeXpress is an excellent resource both future and current college students.

Mataya Mann

Mataya Mann

High School Class of 2022

To say that CollegeXpress is a helpful tool would be an understatement as it is much more than that. Before finding CollegeXpress, all I knew was that I wanted to go to college, it was going to be insanely expensive, and I felt lost. CollegeXpress has given me access to resources such as helpful tips for applications and scholarship [opportunities], and helped guide me in a direction where I feel confident moving forward and pursuing a career. CollegeXpress has helped instill a spark in me that makes me want to continue and supports me in doing so.

Kyla McClain

Kyla McClain

High School Class of 2024

I found CollegeXpress when you partnered with Bold.org for a scholarship. I found your website, put my information in, and got connected. I only wanted to stay in North Carolina [for college] and not move far from home, but you all opened a door up for me. I started researching colleges you suggested for me. On your social media platforms, you also give really good test-taking tips that I used and suggested others to do the same. It helped me a lot on my exams, so thank you.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Monmouth University

West Long Branch, NJ

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara, CA

Ohio University

Athens, OH

Suffolk University

Boston, MA