What to Pack for a Move into a College Dorm

Image By: xandert on morguefile.com
Image By: xandert on morguefile.com

(This article was originally published to Helium.com.)

(There are many ways to save on college dorm needs, including frequenting yard sales, thrift stores, and dollar stores. If you plan far enough ahead, it is possible to save a great deal of money on necessary items during back to school – and after back to school – sales for a few years before your child attends college.)

Going off to college is an exciting event in the life of a young adult. Make sure you have packed everything that you will need before your first visit home, especially if you live a long distance from campus you will move to. Create a checklist of the items you must bring with you in order to be comfortable and not have to do a lot of shopping while away from home. These ideas will get you started.

Clothing and Accessories

Pack enough clothing to get you through a week or two, or until you will have a chance to do laundry. Pants and shirts, skirts and blouses and shorts and tops are a must, as are underclothes. Team logo clothing, such as tee shirts, might also top your list. Formal attire may be needed for dances, and business clothes are useful for interviews. Do not forget sneakers and dress shoes.

Coats and jackets will also come in handy, depending on the weather in the area where the college or university is located, as will boots, hats and gloves. A bathing suit and exercise attire should be packed as well.


Before deciding what to bring, contact your college of choice and ask what will be provided in the dorm room you will be assigned to. A bed is necessary, as is a desk and chair. A book case is important, and you might want a couple of saucer chairs or a futon if there will be enough room.


Two or three sheet sets, a comforter and an assortment of blankets should be packed, as well as pillows. Consider a thick mattress pad in case the provided mattress is not as comfortable as you like, and a few throw pillows and blankets for use when you do not want to be in bed.

Personal Care Items

Pack plenty of shampoo and soap, as well as toothbrushes and toothpaste. Lotion, makeup and razors will be needed as well. If your dorm room has a bathroom, you may need a shower curtain and liner, and remember to pack towels and wash cloths. When sharing a floor bathroom, be sure to bring flip flops and a carrier for all your shower supplies.


Essential, especially in small dorm rooms, organizers will help you to keep things picked up so the room is not always a mess. A hamper is needed for dirty clothes, though two are better if you have to go a long time between laundry days. Trunks can be placed on closet floors, or under beds. A bureau is also necessary if one is not provided. Pack desk organizers as well.

Food Needs

A small refrigerator will aid you in storing perishables, and a microwave makes it easy to prepare assorted food items. A coffee maker might also be needed. Call ahead to be sure these items are allowed in the dorm room.

Pack at least one plate, bowl, cup, spoon, fork and butter knife, though a couple of each is better. Microwave safe items are desired. Having extra storage containers on hand is a good idea, as are coffee and travel mugs.

The food you choose to bring will depend on whether or not you will have small appliances in your room, or in another area like the student lounge. Coffee, tea and soda are options. Snack foods are a good choice, and microwavable food items are desirable.

Cleaning Supplies

A broom and dust pan, a mop, and trash bags are needed, and you will want to consider dish and laundry detergent. An all-purpose disinfectant is another item you will want to pack.

Course Needs

Your textbooks are important, as are other items. A desk lamp, laptop and printer will all be necessary. You will need a bag to carry class needs in, and don’t forget to pack paper, pens and other needs.

Do Not Forget

Do not leave home without your cell phone, or a phone and answering machine for the dorm room. Pack music and movies that you want to bring along. A camera might also be packed, and you will want to consider books and magazines for down time. Decide on anything that you want to use to decorate your dorm room with as well.

Your list is likely quite long at this point. Go over it again so you do not forget to add anything. Mark off each item as it is packed, and label each box with the category of items that is within.

After Christmas Deals at Kmart

Have you done any shopping for next Yule or Christmas yet? It is a good idea to do as much as possible now, during the after Christmas sales. By doing so, you will save money on next years needs. Decorating, storage, wrapping, and gift needs can be picked up now.

I did not get to do as much after Christmas shopping as I usually get done, but I did manage to pick up a few things at Kmart. Each Item was on clearance at half off the regular price.

What did I get?

3 packages of gift tags at $1.40 each

3 (28-pack) boxes of holiday greeting cards at $2.99 each

2 (3-pack) wash cloths (non holiday item) at $1.49 each.

TOTAL = $17.32

SAVINGS = $16.42

Have you found any good deals on holiday items at Kmart? Share with us in the comments, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

Happy shopping!


SYW Surprise Points

I have a Shop Your Way rewards card for K-Mart. I buy what I can get good deals on there, and rack up points until I can get free stuff.

Recently, I have been receiving surprise points. Usually you get these because you purchase certain things, but the last 4 times they have put the points on my card for no seeming reason. I haven’t even been spending much money at the store or online in the last couple of months.

The first time they did this, $3.00 in surprise points went on to my card. How did I use it?

I got a couple of ornaments free.

The second time, I received $7.00. After my purchase was rung up, I ended up paying just a couple of dollars out of pocket. What did I buy?

A journal, a binder, and a package of binder dividers.

Next, they put another $7.00 on my rewards card.  I paid only a few $0.75 out of pocket for my items. They were already on sale at $3.99 each. What did I decide to purchase?

2 clearance plastic storage boxes.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015.Last week, they gave me another $7.00. Today, I paid only $0.85 out of pocket for

4 dish towels.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015Not bad, for goods I barely paid anything for. They can add surprise points to my card any time they like.

Has this been happening with anyone else? Share your experiences in the comments, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.


Top 10 Frugal is Fabulous! Posts of 2014

I am impressed with how much this blog readership has grown. I have enjoyed reading the emails readers have sent, and I am glad I could help some of you along your path to living frugally in the most positive way possible.

The three main countries reading these blog pasts are the US, Canada, and the UK. But there are people in other countries reading this blog as well. I am amazed and blessed. Thank you!

The top referring sites for the blog last year included Pinterest, Examiner.com, Frugal Recipes: Spending Less to Eat Healthy, StumbleUpon, and Facebook.

What were the most popular posts on Frugal is Fabulous! during 2014?

  1. Live on Less
  2. Top 10 Tips for Frugal Living
  3. Tips for Stocking Your Pantry: Food, Personal Hygiene, and Household Items
  4. Living the Low-Income Lifestyle, When You don’t Have To
  5. USDA Thrifty Food Plan
  6. Frugal Living
  7. Easy Meals
  8. Getting Ready for Winter 101: Heating Considerations
  9. Getting Ready for Winter 101: Emergency Supplies on a Budget
  10. Frugal Holiday Decorating

I am so happy that you are all enjoying my blog, and that you are finding the information useful. If have any questions or comments, feel free to comment below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

Have a wonderful day!



Holiday Decorations for Children to Make

Most children love crafts, and will enjoy cold, rainy days spent inside with their family making ornaments and memories.

When the children were little, we used to have their cousins and the neighborhood children over to make different craft items during the holiday season. They all had much fun.

And when Skye and Zowie were young teenagers, I used to allow them to have friends over for ornament making parties. I pulled out all my crafting scraps and anything else I had collected for this purpose throughout the year, and gave them free reign to make what they wanted. The girls and their friends had a grand time.

The ornaments and other crafts the children made were given by them as gifts to loved ones, but I always managed to get one or two from each child every year. These make up the bulk of the items that decorate my tree(s) each year. And they are some of my favorites!

Photographs by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

  • Wooden shapes found at craft stores come in a variety of shapes and sizes. These little stockings were picked up on clearance years ago, for about .10 each, and I believe there were other shapes as well. They already had holes drilled into them. The children painted each of the wooden shapes, let them dry, then put string hangers on them.
  • This wooden tree I actually picked up at a craft fair real cheap, but the finished product would be easy for a child to mimic with the right supplies. Have them paint wooden trees and glue different colored dots onto them for ornaments. You can’t see it in the picture, but there is a little yellow star glued to the top.
  • Snowflakes are always fun to make, and can be created in a number of ways. A few examples include: (1) Pretty Paper Snowflake, (2) Paper Snowflake from Highhopes.com, and (3) Create a Blizzards worth of Snowflakes.
  • Simple blue or green plastic baskets can be decorated with Santa, a snowman, a tree, or even a bell. Make them by using craft foam. Use foam that is already cut into shapes for very young children.
  • My nephew made me the other tree, along with a reindeer and other ornaments, when he was young. I don’t even know the type of foam medium he used, but I loved the ornaments.
  • And  simple craft for young children is to put a holiday sticker on either side of a poster board shape.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

  • Felt is always a good craft supply to have on hand. Two types work well. (1) The regular felt sheets, and (2) the felts sheets with adhesive on the back. The adhesive allows you to put felt shapes on top of other shapes and will adhere nicely. Rather than buying the adhesive kind, glue can be used. Shapes can be cut out free hand, or traced onto the felt using cookie cutters as a guide. For decorating, glitter can be used, fabric markers, or fabric paint.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

  • Ornaments made from paper shopping or lunch bags are easy to make as well. Again, have the children draw shapes free hand or use cookie cutters for tracing. Gingerbread families can be made, stars, moons, suns, stockings, bells, and more. All they need for decorating are crayons, colored pencils, or markers.
  • Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.
  • And pasta can be glued to card stock or poster board shapes for an easy craft. Paint and/glitter are good to use for decorating these. My daughter, Skye (now 25) made the round one and put her picture on it for me. One of the pasta pieces fell of and broke, but I will always keep this ornament.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

  • The children used foam sheets and paints to make me these ornaments. The hands do not have hangers, they just sit further back on the branches of my tree. The hand prints are actually those of the children that they traced, and they wrote messages on their hands, such as ‘Joy’.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

  • Salt dough ornaments are also fun for children to make. There is a tutorial here.  Cookie cutter will be needed for these. Angels, stars, bulb ornaments and more can be made. The children also get to paint these once they are cool.
  • Cinnamon ornaments were my favorites, because they smelled amazing. They used star and moon cookie cutters for this project, but other shapes would work just as well. They did not paint theirs, but some people do. I don’t have the original recipe, but this is supposed to be a good one. I can’t remember if the recipe we used involved glue but, if that recipe does not give you the desired product, try this one.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

These are some of the ornaments I have on my tree. Most were made by children. I love all the memories I have of them coming to my home to make them with us.

What types of ornaments have your children made? Share with us in the comments below, or email me personally at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. Photographs are welcome!

You may also enjoy:

Candy-Filled Ornaments or Gift Tags

Frugal Ways to Decorate for Christmas

Easy Ways to Package Food Gifts

Creating Holiday Traditions

Happy Holidays!


Frugal Holiday Decorating

I rent a room, and don’t have much space to work with, but I wanted to set things up to show you how to frugally decorate for Yule or Christmas.

Now, by the end of this post you will see that I actually have a lot of ornaments and such, but it has taken me 25 years to collect all of this stuff. I did not go out and buy everything all at once. I started out meagerly with things that first belonged to my mother and others.

So don’t worry if you don’t have much. You will have plenty soon enough.

Photogrpah by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.I actually have two trees this year. Both are table top trees because I do not have any place for a bigger one.

  • The one pictured above was given to me last year by my mother. The tree used to be my grandmothers, who passed a few years back.
  • The lights on this tree were also my grandmothers. They have bigger bulbs than lights these days generally do, so you can really see the lights from the road down below.
  • The bows were cheap Dollar Tree finds. Two different types, plus ones shaped like Poinsettias.
  • The bead garlands I have acquired over the years, mostly during after Christmas clearance sales. I have red and purple garlands for this tree.

Photogrpah by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.This tree topper was also my grandmothers. I cherish all the things that were hers.

Photogrpah by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.This tree was a Family Dollar Find.

  • I bought it while visiting my daughter Skye back in November, for $12.00.
  • The beads for this tree I bought on sale with Christmas money from my parents. They were half off at the beginning of December, so I hardly spent anything on them.
  • The angel was $1.99.
  • The bows were Dollar Tree finds last year.
  • The purple tree lights are actually Halloween ones, bought for .50 at a thrift store. I love purple on my trees!
  • The two sets of white lights were only a couple of dollars each, purchased at the same time as the garlands and angel.

http://www.examiner.com/article/after-holiday-sales-seasonal-clearance-salesI have so many things, that I really don’t need to buy anything else, but:

  • The two blue and white ornaments under the garland were also on sale, and all the items in picture to the left cost under $15.00, but were really a gift from my parents who actually paid for them as part of my Christmas present from they. (They also bought me boots and lunch at Five Guys!) A huge savings over the regular cost of those items.
  • All my ornaments get wrapped and placed in tins after the holidays. The tins were derived mostly as gifts throughout the years, filled with popcorn and other goodies, though a couple were bought during after Christmas sales and others were bought at yard sales.
  • I have a large collection of ornaments that others have made for me. The little snowman in the upper left corner of the lower middle picture was made by my mother.
  • The pasta and stocking ornaments were made by my daughter when she was a child.
  • And I am not sure where the snowman came from. But, if I bought it, it would not have cost much.
  • And the little snowman box was a splurge, because I love snowmen. $1.99, and I will reuse it year after year to store tiny breakable ornaments safely.
  • I work as a front desk agent at an inn, and guests sometimes give me there Kohl’s cash if they wont be in the United States to use them. So the Kissing Crystal and the Get Your Jingle On sign were free, as were a few votive candles.

http://www.examiner.com/article/after-holiday-sales-seasonal-clearance-saleshttp://www.examiner.com/article/after-holiday-sales-seasonal-clearance-salesMy family and I, as well as some of my friends, are crafty people, so many of us have made things for the tree and to use as other decorations. What I make does not cost much.

  • I even have an ornament that another grandmother made from plastic canvas. A square with a candle.
  • And bulbs that one of my sisters’ family makes for me.

http://www.examiner.com/article/after-holiday-sales-seasonal-clearance-salesI have a large collection of ornaments that the children in my family have made over the years. They are very crafty in their own right, and I cherish all of my homemade gift ornaments and decorations.

http://www.examiner.com/article/after-holiday-sales-seasonal-clearance-salesSimple touches do not have to cost much.

  • Bulbs can be placed on candlesticks for something different, and cookie cutters can be hung as ornaments.
  • Pine cones can be rolled in glitter glue, and strung to hang on the tree.
  • Little painted apples given to me by my girls also adorn my tree.
  • And candy canes count as ornaments in my home.

http://www.examiner.com/article/after-holiday-sales-seasonal-clearance-salesI love beaded ornaments as well.

  • The wreath was made by my mother.
  • I made the Pixie that hangs on my tree for only a couple of dollars.
  • My mother even made some of the snowflakes and icicles that hang from my tree.
  • http://www.examiner.com/article/after-holiday-sales-seasonal-clearance-salesI made some of the icicles as well.
  • I did spend about a little bit to get some fake candlesticks to hang on the tree, and I love what they add to the look. They cost about $10.00.

http://www.examiner.com/article/after-holiday-sales-seasonal-clearance-salesThere are other decorations that adorn my home as well.

  • My mother is quite crafty. It is really quite impressive the things she can make. Like my wreath. I am able to hang it on the outside of my door, because the door leads into a hall rather than outside. She put a snowman star on it, because snowmen are my favorite decorations.
  • My stepfather is also crafty. He made the sleigh that hangs on my wall. My mother painted it, and again added snowman details.
  • And my daughter and her boyfriend sent me the How to Build a Snowman wall quilt for Yule one year.
  • One of my sister bought me the red star. It holds a tea light candle.

As you can see, I have a lot of stuff. My room is real well decorated, and I love it. The finished trees look like:

http://www.examiner.com/article/after-holiday-sales-seasonal-clearance-saleshttp://www.examiner.com/article/after-holiday-sales-seasonal-clearance-salesWhat does your holiday decorating look like? Share with us in the comments below, or email me personally at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. Pictures are always welcome, as are tips for saving money!

You may also be interested in:

Creating Holiday Traditions

Easy Ways to Package Food Gifts

Frugal Ways to Decorate for Christmas

Frugal Decorating Ideas for Yule

Happy Holidays :-)


Frugal Decorating Ideas Using Bulbs

Christmas bulbs can be picked up just about anywhere affordably, and used as is or decorated. Hung on a tree, or used elsewhere as decorations, bulbs will come in handy.

Look in dollar stores, or use what you have on hand.

Or, to save a bunch on bulbs that are a bit fancier, wait and purchase them just before Christmas or during the after Christmas sales.

My sister Katie’s family decorated ornaments for me two years in a row, because I love homemade ornaments.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.Unfortunately, after I moved I had my stuff in storage for a couple of years and two ended up broken. I was heartbroken, but I am so grateful for the ones that are left.

The photo at the top shows bulbs that were painted.

Ideas for You to Try

1. Small children might dip one of their hands in paint and then put their hand print on an ornament.

2. Parents could dip a babies foot into paint and then put their foot print on the ornament.

3. Older children and adults are capable of painting designs on the bulbs.

Once the bulbs are dry, string them with thread for hanging.

The photo on the bottom shows bulbs that were decorated a little differently, using glitter.

Ideas for You to Try

1. Take the tops off the bulbs and add glitter.

2. Before filling with glitter, pour a little glue inside. Turn the bulb as desired, to cover what will be the back half of the inside bulb with glue.

3. Quickly add glitter and turn the bulb to coat, allow to dry, then replace the top.

4. Use glitter glue to draw pictures on the outside of the bulb.

This is what the bulbs look like on the tree.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

I have a bulb from my childhood as well. It is a blue bulb, so old that the bulb came covered in blue threads. It is not necessarily in perfect condition, but I love it!

decorated simply, with my name written on the front and a cross drawn on the back with glue and then covered with gold glitter.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.Not all bulbs need be decorated, or even put on the tree. They can be used to decorate other areas of the room.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

1. Place them in unused candlestick holders.

2. Put them in decorative cups.

3. Place them in old chalices that belonged to your great-grandparents.

They will look in a number of places.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

1. For the first and second pictures, I placed some bulbs in plastic baskets the girls had decorated when they were young.

2. I put round and star-shaped ornaments in the base of three decorative candle holders. The cups that fit over the top hold tea light candles.

3. The window is a decorative one already. I hung a couple of bulbs along with other ornaments, for a nice look.

There are plenty of other things to do with bulbs. Here are a few.

  1. Get a medium size basket to use as a centerpiece. Fill it with bulbs, and add a bow or two to the handle.
  2. Pick up a wreath form, and glue bulbs all around it. Use one color, a variety, or a theme such as red outer bulbs and white inner bulbs.
  3. Fill a small vase with bulbs. Tie a ribbon around the neck of the vase, and fill with holiday picks that have berries, poinsettia, or whatever is desired.

To save money:

  • Use store coupons to purchase necessary items.
  • Use store rewards points to help cut costs.
  • Shop dollar stores.
  • Buy during clearance sales.
  • Pick bulbs and craft supplies up at yard sales.
  • Frequent thrift shops and keep an eye out for craft and holiday supplies.

You may be interested in

Store Rewards Programs

Purchase from the Discount Carts

After Holiday Sales, Seasonal Clearance Sales

Thrift Shop Deals

Share your holiday decorating ideas in the comments below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

Happy Holidays!


Frugal Living Articles

Some of you may not know that I write other places, so I would like to share some of the other articles I have written.

Winter Prep on a Budget

Why Live Frugally when You Have Money to Spend?

The Frugal Kitchen

How to Live a More Frugal Life

25 Tips for Living a More Frugal Life

Getting Enough Protein Affordably

New Year Goal: Getting Finances in Order

Top 10 Frugal Articles for 2014

Food Storage Using Sales and Coupons

Frugal Recipes Happenings for 10/28/2014

Easy Ways to be Frugal

Frugal Living Tips

A Good, Healthy Lunch on a Budget

Why Live a Frugal Lifestyle

New Year Goal: Saving Money

A Good, Healthy Breakfast on a Budget

New Year Goal: Get a Better Job

After School Job Options for Teens

Save Money by Eating at Home

Store Rewards Programs

Purchase from the Discount Carts

Stop Wasting Food

After Holiday Sales, Seasonal Clearance Sales

Thrift Shop Deals

Top 10 Frugal Cooking and Food Tips

A Frugally Based Healthy Recipe Challenge

No Luck Finding a Job

Stocking a Pantry for 1

Planned Leftovers for 1

Cooking for 1

Grocery Shopping for 1

What to Eat During the Very Lean Weeks

Have a great day!


Autumn Articles for Your Frugal Lifestyle

Autumn is here, and what a wonderful season it is. I love the colorful leaves, and the crispness in the air.  Last month my daughter, Zowie, and her husband, Devan, came for a visit, and we went to Treworgy Family Orchards in Levant, Maine. We had a good time. They picked out pumpkins, and we picked apples. The corn maze was fun, and we added our names to the Wall of Fame – and found my nephews from a field trip he went on years ago. We even earned our free ice cream, and bought homemade pumpkin chocolate chip whoopie pies. Walking through the gift store was a treat, as was visiting the animals.

Thought I would share these articles with you:

Autumn Themed Food and Garden Articles on Frugal Recipes

Easy, Healthy Additions to Your Thanksgiving Meal

Host a Frugal Thanksgiving Party

Frugal Decorating Ideas for Thanksgiving

Doing Thanksgiving on a Budget

Hope you enjoy the articles! If you have any tips for getting through the holiday season frugally, let us know in the comments below. Or, email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I respond to all my readers!


Savings on Autumn Needs

I did not need much for the autumn season this year, because I mainly only decorate my window area. Renting a room as I do, there is not much need for a lot of decorations.

Raffia left over from my daughters engagement party was used. And I already had window clings, as well as paper pumpkins I made a couple of years back. When bringing more stuff to my room for storage, I even found a few decorations the children made me while growing up.

Last month, a kind guest at the hotel (where I work as a Front Desk Agent) gave me $10.00 in Kohl’s Cash. I decided to use it to stock up on some candles for November. They were having a sale on autumn scented Yankee Candles, and I was looking for votive candles.

The candles were regularly $1.99 each, on sale for $1.49. I chose 7 votives of different scents. After using the $10.00 Kohl’s Cash, I only had to pay $0.45. $.02 of that was tax. I guess you don’t pay tax on Kohl’s Cash purchases. The receipt says the total saved was $13.60.

That same day I visited A.C. More. I was right in the area, after all. I just wanted to see if they were having any sales. They were!

I bought a garland of oak leaves. They were regularly $6.99, on sale for $4.19. Three piece gift sets of small, assorted autumn scented, jarred candles that are usually $4.99 were being sold for $3.88.  I saved $3.91.

Also last month. The bestest and I took my niece to visit my daughter Skye up north. We stopped in at a roadside stand where they were selling good size pumpkins for only #2.00.

These purchases rounded out my holiday decor nicely.

Share about your autumn savings in the comments below, or email me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.


New Name. Same Blog.

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