Back to school: Ideas to save money, space and time!!!

schoolHGTV.com_Ana-White.jpgHGTV.comA yardstick and clothespins make a clothespin clip rail that’s far cuter than the front of the refrigerator as place to display impressive schoolwork.

Saving will be the aim of many parents preparing to get their students back to school or off to college. A tough economy will undoubtedly mean repurposing items from home, taking on a crafty project or two and, possibly, mixing in a few tasteful thrift shop finds that have been painted and primped for a new home away from home. But even when the budget isn’t tight, most college living quarters are. So, saving space also comes into play.

Here are a few ideas that can be used on campus or at home to help make it easier for students to manage time and living space.

Back to school: Measuring up

Younger students are delighted to have their best work showcased. A clothespin clip rail is easy and inexpensive to make. Just paint the clothespins and use wood glue or a glue gun to attach them to a yardstick. For college students, a series of the rails could be used to hang photographs, notes and other necessary items. Lucky crafters might find free promotional yardsticks at the local hardware store. If not, they’re sold at craft stores.

The Easy Clip-Art Rail project shown above is by do-it-yourself blogger Ana White. It requires the clothespins to be disassembled before painting, which is a good idea for super-neat types who don’t want paint on the metal part of the clothsepin. For those who want it done quickly, I have made similar projects (a Super Star paper holder where a large wooden craft-store star has a clothespin attached with glue) by simply coating everything with acrylic paint. Click the project title above to get White’s much more thorough instructions from

schoolTargetEmerson Blackboard Fridge.jpgEmerson Dry-Erase-Door Fridge

Back to school: Old-school messaging

The Emerson Dry-Erase-Door Compact Fridge is a station for cold snacks, drinks and old-school roomie reminders. An inspirational quote written on this compact fridge will hang around a little longer than a text message. $89 at Also check Target for dry-erase decals that cling to walls or doors without nails or adhesives. They sell for $9.99 to $14.99 and can be used for in-room messages or on the door for notes to and from dorm mates.

Doors also are a great place to expand storage with over-door hooks, and holders for shoes, small accessories and more. The Kohl’s Student Lounge collection, includes several over-door space savers, including the nylon Boho accessories organizer, which is sale priced at $10 at

Back to school: Kitchen space saver

The slotted Obol bowl was created to keep cereal separate and crisp until whisked by spoonfuls into the waiting milk. It can also save space in a student kitchen by serving as a bowl and a plate. Use it for soup and crackers, hummus and pita wedges, or a main dish and a side dish as shown below. The deeper reservoir holds 2 cups of soup or other food, the top slot holds about a cup. Made of BPA-free, unbreakable polypropylene, the dishwasher-safe bowl has a large notch in its base for easier handling away from a table. Obol is $19.99 in white, orange or green at, or (800) 846-3000.

webback-to-school.jpgPhoto illustration by Mark Voger Back to school items: Obol cereal bowl doubles as a plate; La Tour Trunk from Pier 1 Imports can provide extra seating; Toddy Smart Cloths clean smart phone screens and more; My Blend personal blender can make quick liquid breakfasts in a dorm room.

Back to school: Stash your stuff

When you live in a small space, dual purpose furnishings can be a godsend. That’s why the storage ottoman has become a dorm room essential. It offers seating and a place to stash stuff.

Target stores have storage ottomans starting as low as $14 in stores, with a wider variety available at But if the student is a French major, a splurge purchase might be in order. Pier 1 Imports’ La Tour Trunk, shown left, is $149.95. Topped with a pillow, it offers all the function of an ottoman with Eifel Tower images. Très chic, non?




Back to school: Clean screens plus

Screens on electronics from phones to tablets to laptops can remain clean and smudge-free with Toddy Smart Cloths, shown above. The dry microfiber cleaning wipes have a silk side for buffing and polishing. In 42 patterns, they also can be used without chemicals, but maybe just a touch of plain water, for cleaning windows, mirrors and eyeglasses. $9.99 for one 5-by-7 cloth or $19.99 for a 3 pack at

Back to school: Breakfast to go

Students who live in dorms that don’t allow microwaves can still make breakfast to go. The 20-ounce Oster My Blend is a personal blender for fruity smoothies, iced coffee and other drinks. The removable pitcher doubles as a take-away bottle. Of course, no student would ever think to use it for margaritas and other on-campus cocktails. Still, parents might rest easier knowing that at 250 watts this isn’t a high-powered ice crusher that would make rounds of frozen drinks with ease. $29.50 at Extra-long straws are suggested. Also available through Target and other retailers.














About Maria Paulina Pagano

As a Realtor for the last twenty years and a Monmouth County resident for twenty-four years, I have accumulated extensive and invaluable knowledge of the Real Estate Market and Market Trends. Member of Ocean, Monmouth, & Middlesex MLS.
This entry was posted in Home Buying, Homeownership, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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