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Monday Q&A | Outfitting a college home + Resisting rest

I’m going to be starting college soon. I was just wondering if you have any tips for college students. I will only be working part-time and will have 1-3 roommates.

Our room has a full kitchen and I don’t know what my room mate(s) will provide (like pans, a toaster, bowls, plates, silverware) so where would you suggest getting those cheap? I plan on trying freecycle when the time gets closer, but if they don’t have a dish set or silverware set, do you think I should try to get it at a Salvation Army? Also, would you suggest washing dishes by hand or using the dish washer? Where do you think you could get a bed set cheap too, preferably one that’s not used because it has to keep hold for at least 3 years?

Thank you very much,

I think it’s GREAT that you’re thinking about this before you head off to college…good for you! When you graduate, you’ll be glad you tried to keep your debt to a minimum.

Freecycle is a great place to get housewares inexpensively, but yes, the Salvation Army or another thrift store should have basic housewares for great prices. It might be a bit tough to get a good silverware set, but if you don’t mind having mismatched pieces, you could put together a set from the bins at a thrift store.

A view of a dining room with gray walls and a white table and chairs.

A dishwasher is almost always a more frugal choice than hand-washing, provided that you wait to run it until it’s full.

For a bed frame, check out craigslist. I got a solid wood bed for $50 that way recently. That’s much less expensive than a new particle board bed! Freecycle might also have something.

If it’s bedding you’re looking for and you want a high-quality sheet set, it might be worth stopping by a store like Marshall’s or T.J. Maxx. They often have name-brand, high thread count sheet sets for good prices, and if you’re not too picky about the color or style, you’re almost guaranteed to find something that will work for you.

I am a young married woman who works a LOT and I wanted to ask your advice as on how you manage to have everything in order (even though you do say your home is a mess sometimes). In my case, it’s either the home cleaning that gets behind, either personal things that I want to do (like appointments, buying staff I need) or, if I ever manage to do all the above plus work then I am exhausted. I know a lot about schedule and slicing things etc, but how do you manage to resist sleeping an hour more or crashing on the couching or throwing yourself in a book, etc., etc. and instead do a load of laundry?


It is true that I almost never have everything in order! That’s only happened about once in my married life, when we put our last home on the market. And it took a LOT of effort to get our house to that level of cleanliness and order.

We all have a limited number of hours each week, and so we’re always making choices about how we spend those hours. If you work a lot, it’s very possible that you just don’t have enough hours in the day to get everything done.

I’m assuming that your work is non-negotiable, so it might be wise to see what other tasks you can simplify. Could you live with a little more mess? Use some of your earnings to hire some household help? Order more items online to save shopping time?

As far as resisting sleeping in or reading a book goes, I think it might be all right for you to do that sometimes! If you work a lot, some downtime and rest is really important. I take Sundays off each week…I don’t blog, I don’t do household chores, I don’t do paid work, and I keep meals simple. This gives me time to spend with my family or friends and is a welcome rest from the faster pace during the week.

I also make sure to sleep 8 hours each night, as that gives me energy to work hard during the day.

A living room with brown couches and gray walls, with a double window.

I like things to be neat and clean and I like to cross things off of my to-do list, so as long as I’m well-rested, I’m usually pretty motivated to get things done. When I do feel like slacking, though, I tell myself just to do one thing (like wash the dishes). Once I do that one thing, I often find myself motivated to do another task and another task.

You also might try holding out a reward for yourself…like you could tell yourself that if you do the laundry and wash then dishes, then you can curl up with a book.

P.S. To help you maximize your housework time, here are three ways to be efficient. That post is part of my productivity series, which you might find helpful.

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Renee McD

Monday 30th of July 2012

Just saw this today and if you haven't gotten your siverware yet you may want to look at this deal today -

Jules Thomas

Friday 20th of July 2012

Great advice, I love your site. For the lady struggling with time, it helps me if I set aside 10-15 mins every morning to work on the house before I leave, you'll be surprised what you can get done! I too like to crash when I get home, guilt free as I have done my bit for the day, making it easier to keep on top of things



Wednesday 11th of July 2012

Just a side note to Victoria about second hand furnishings....I have been fighting a bed bug battle recently and had to remove all second hand furniture, items and clothing from my home plus have ongoing pest control treatment to try to eradicate the bugs. Bed bugs are becoming a real problem in our world today.


Monday 9th of July 2012

I also wonder if cleaning less often might work for you. If you're looking for housekeeping advice online, a lot of it seems geared at people who want to do chores daily or weekly. But, maybe that's not what you want or need to do. I remember reading this blog post about once-a-month cleaning a while back, and it made a lot of sense to me.

Maybe that would be a possibility, and you could set aside one day a month, or a couple of hours a week, or something like that, to clean, rather than feeling like you need to spend your leisure time cleaning. Personally, if I were working full-time, I really can't imagine having the energy to do much more than the necessities (like washing dishes and picking up just as much as I needed to be able to relax).

As to laundry, I find that doing it first thing in the morning helps me, but that might not work for you, if you start work early. If I do get behind, my husband and I will sometimes just do one marathon laundry session of 3 or 4 loads on a weekend day, and then put on a movie that night and fold while we watch. Or, maybe you could outsource your laundry. Maybe you could use a laundry service, or trade chores with a friend, or something like that.


Monday 9th of July 2012

A comment for Ana - My approach for keeping up with house cleaning is to just focus on one room at a time. Every day, I pick a room and spend 15-30 minutes picking up and cleaning. Sure, the whole house won't always be clean, but the kitchen or the living room or the bathroom will be better than it was. This is less overwhelming than feeling like I have to get EVERYTHING done.

I also agree with the other commenters - your husband should be helping too!

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