Ask any parent with a kid in college just how expensive a four-year excursion is to any college or university is and the answer is unanimous: "very." Or, you may see them rub their thumb against their other four fingers to suggest "a lot of money," and there is always the reach into both pockets and pull out two empty inseams.
No matter what type of reaction results, the point is clearly made: books, tuition, off-campus apartments or living in a dorm equals a serious amount of cash for mom and dad to throw down. That being said, let's try to give mom and dad a break.
That proverbial "break" could easily come in the form of the furniture and furnishing for that dorm room or apartment. So what is the best way to save money on furniture for smaller apartments? The easy choice is to price shop but that act could get old quick and become incredibly timely. No one wants to finally settle on a couch or dining room table just in time for graduation.
One of the all-encompassing gems that often is overlooked is Ikea, which is a one-stop shop for moms, dads and kids who aren't exactly overly excited about the prospects of bouncing from store to store. The avid, smart shopper can comb the shelves -- either in person or online -- at Ikea and will be surprised to find that not only is the furniture top-notch but also affordable and durable. Furthermore, Ikea is riddled with terrific items that range between $2 and $5 in the form of essentials: plates, silverware, lamps, end tables, coffee tables and dining sets. A simple black end table shouldn't cost more than $10 or $20; no one is interested in fine marble or wood-carved tables that are realistically temporary at best.
The biggest benefit to Ikea is its selection of futons, which are typically an essential component of a college dorm when space is at a minimum. Futons are a terrific compromise as it doubles in small spaces as a couch and bed, often a necessity in close quarters or when sharing a room with others. Ikea isn't overly expensive, either, with futons that barely top $100. Those who simply can't live without a bed can go the bed-slash-storage route where sleeping comfortably is combined with a bed frame that sports plenty of drawers as part of the design.
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