College budgets can be tight. Here’s how to ease into the semester with help from Goodwill

If you’re a college student, you’re spending a lot of money on food, textbooks, tuition and, let’s just say extracurricular activities. Learning how to budget in college can reduce the stress you feel on a daily basis and help you save more money.

 Shopping at Goodwill can keep you within that budget. Remember, college is meant to be a time when you learn, make lifelong friends, and have a great time. Money can be a major stressor, so any chance to save a few bucks should not be ignored.

When it comes to college, the priorities and shopping needs change for students. Maybe you don’t want anything to do with backpacks. After all, they feel a bit childish and like you’re being dragged down from behind. Companies are coming up with some pretty stylish backpacks these days, but the cute satchel-type ones don’t stand a chance when it comes to fitting a laptop alongside three or four college textbooks. Why not shop Goodwill for a tote instead. Its width and depth means it will be able to hold books for several classes at a time so you don’t have to run back to your dorm to swap anything out.

 Remember to check Goodwill for your needs before heading elsewhere. Since Goodwill stores are constantly being stocked with more community donations, you never know what you’ll find!

If a college dorm room is in your future, know that decorating such a small space can be fun. But expenses can add up. Whether you’re moving into your first dorm or transitioning into an apartment, Goodwill Central Coast is the place to find all kinds of decorating essentials that not only match your budget but your personality, too!

Here are a few fun ways to use thrift store finds from Goodwill for dorm décor:

  • Display photographs: One good way to prevent homesickness and make your new dorm space feel cozier is to display favorite pictures of loved ones. Thanks to our vast selection of photo frames, it’s easy to choose a frame or two that fits your style. You can also add a touch of flair to ordinary frames by repainting them or gluing on a textured element like seashells or rope for a beachy feel. Just print out photos of your friends and family and display them in your dorm room or apartment. Being surrounded by happy memories is sure to make a new space feel more like home.
  • Add some light: Many dorms use harsh, fluorescent lights that can cause your space to feel shadowy and dull. To brighten up your room, try adding string lights! Because they come in different styles and colors, string lights can immediately change a room’s vibe. To create a cozier, more relaxed environment, try looking for white or warm white string lights. For a colorful, exciting environment, look for color-changing LED string lights. Don’t forget to search for an extension cord or two as well.
  • Utilize wall space: Dorm rooms are known for being tiny, so make sure you’re maximizing any wall space you have to express your tastes and interests. During your next thrift shopping trip, look for posters, prints, paintings, mixed media, and photography pieces to use when decorating your dorm. You never know what unique, rare, or vintage pieces you may find when thrift shopping at Goodwill!
  • Bring the outdoors in: Another fun, budget-friendly dorm room décor idea is to add a few plants to your space. GCC carries many different types of pots you can use to create the dorm room of your dreams. For the DIYers of the world, search for a colorful serving dish or wooden salad bowl you can repurpose as a home for low-maintenance plants like succulents. Once you find the perfect place to store your plants, head to your local plant store or nursery and pick out a few low-maintenance succulents and some good soil. Finally, assemble your succulent in its new home, so it’s ready for move-in day. If you don’t have a green thumb, don’t worry! GCC also has plenty of attractive faux plants and flowers to make your dorm room feel on-trend without the responsibility of caring for actual plants.


When you go thrifty at GCC this back-to-college season, you can save money on dorm or apartment décor and help to save the planet by repurposing secondhand items. That’s shopping smart for the community (each purchase helps generate jobs) and for the planet in keeping items out of landfills.

Here are some other options you may find at your local GCC store:

  • Dishes: You might not need a full set for a small space, that’s why grabbing a few pieces here and there makes sense. It’s a cost effective solution
  • Food storage containers: Bringing snacks to and from class. We have a wide variety of sizes you can actually use.
  • Desk furniture: No need to splurge on expensive pieces. It’s a dorm room! Just find something that won’t take up too much space, and has drawers to hold much of your stuff.
  • Throw blankets: Pick a color that matches your other decor and get extra comfy for those long study sessions.
  • Storage bins: We carry a variety of multipurpose storage bins, a must to keep your small space tidy and neat.
  • Rugs: A patterned, colorful rug can tie the room together and bring a sense of warmth. And it creates visual space separation from your roommate’s side of the room!
  • Lamps: Small light sources are helpful for late-night cram sessions when your roommate is trying to sleep
  • Laundry basket: Try to find one that takes up vertical space, to both store and carry your loads of laundry.


Remember, at your first home away from home it’s essential to have pieces that make your room feel just like you. Inspirational canvases, vases, throw pillows, clocks and unique pieces that speak to your own sense of style.

Also, it’s never too early to think about the day (all too soon) that you move out. Why not consider donating much of your stuff right back to us to continue the cycle of goodwill? What goes around certainly comes right back around again.

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