Decorating tips for broke college students

Here are four ways to personalize your room without emptying your wallet.

Moving into a new place, whether it be a dorm room or apartment, can be scary. What doesn’t help is bare walls and empty desks. Making the space you live in a little more homey by decorating can make living on your own a little less frightening. However, attending college is pricey enough, so some don’t have the money to line their walls with the finest decorations. Luckily, there are some tricks to personalizing living spaces without going broke.


One of the most basic ways to decorate a room is with posters. Although they are simple and used often, they’re a great way of displaying to visitors what you’re passionate about, your favorite movies and role models. Many stores, like Hot Topic and Spencer’s (both of which have locations at the Columbia Mall), sell 2- by 3-foot posters for modest prices, so buying one or two won’t cost a fortune and will take up a considerable amount of space.

If you’re looking for a true bargain, Ragtag Cinema gives out the movie posters they use for promotion for free after the film is no longer showing. Keep an eye on the box of posters outside the entrance to the theaters — you might find some unique posters.

MU also hosts a poster sale during Welcome Week and the beginning of the spring semester every year. This provides a large selection of music, movie and TV show posters, as well as photo prints. The sale during Welcome Week is located by the fountain outside of Strickland Hall, while the spring semester sale takes place in the Bengal Lair at Memorial Student Union.

This year’s winter poster sale will run through Jan. 29 and is sponsored by the Department of Student Life.


An easy way to keep your loved ones close while you’re away from home is with pictures. Whether they be snapshots of your furry friends, selfies with your family or throwback pictures with your childhood buddies, it’s great to have memories right by your side. Pictures also serve as a great decoration.

Getting prints from places like Walgreens and Walmart is easy and cheap. By using the Walgreens app or Walmart website, you can upload your photos directly and have them ready for pickup within 24 hours. If you’re printing 74 prints or less, Walgreens charges only 33 cents per 4- by 6-inch photo. Walmart is slightly cheaper, with 74 prints or less being only 25 cents each. Pick up some twine and clothespins from the dollar store and you’ve got a cheap, easy way to display your photos.


Have a bulletin board that sticks out like a sore thumb in your room? Cover it with buttons. Buttons are relatively easy to find for free at places like the Women’s Center, various campus events and booths and at Speakers Circle. If you don’t like the free buttons you’re offered, buttons are normally sold for $1 to $3 a piece. Simply bend back the pin of the button and stick it into your cork board and you’ll have a decoration!

The dollar store is your friend

The dollar store is not only the perfect place to buy snacks on a budget, but trinkets for your room as well. Stores like Dollar Tree house a surprising amount of house décor, from wall art to ceramic figurines and even miniature mirrors. Another great resource is Bullseye’s Playground at Target, which is the section of the store with lower-priced house décor, crafts and various knicknacks.

Apartments, houses and dorms alike all can be intimidating on move-in day. The best way to make your living space feel less cold and more like a home is to decorate it with the things you love.

Edited by Siena DeBolt |

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