Everywhere you look in the blogosphere, you see lengthy lists for the college bound: lamps, garbage cans, fans, fridges, even ironing boards! When we brought our scholars to college, we would see huge SUVs unloading masses of stuff--including cases of bottled water. Almost every scholar brought a dorm fridge and microwave--even though the dorms at my daughter's school had fridges and microwaves in EACH ROOM. So the tiny rooms were outfitted with 3 fridges and 3 microwaves. UGH.
Miss Em always brings too much; still she is restrained compared to most others.
Anyway, a cornerstone of frugality is WAITING. You can buy stuff at the college town, if necessary. And I am here to say NO to two commonly suggested necessities.
--Extra-long twin sheets. If you can get a good deal on these, go right ahead. I am kind of picky about sheets and only buy combed cotton. I found some combed cotton stretchy sheets at Ross for my dear child. What the scholar REALLY needs is a FOAM or FEATHER MATTRESS PAD. Dorm mattresses are thin. Once you put the pad on, you will discover that you can put your regular twin sheets ON THE MATTRESS PAD. Unless your kid is on the basketball team, a regular twin mattress pad will suffice and then you can use your regular twin sheets.
--Quarters for laundry. A lot of kids will NEVER do the laundry. And before you start saving quarters, find out if the machines even take them. At some schools, students have plastic cards that are loaded with cash. These can be used at vending machines, laundry rooms, coffee shops, and so on.
One expense from which there is no escape is textbooks. UGH. A gift card from the college bookstore or even good old Amazon would be much appreciated, I am sure.