Whether you’re a freshman heading to college for the first time or a rising senior, decorating your dorm (or apartment) is a must.

Unfortunately, transforming a sparse, bland space into a welcoming haven can become fairly costly. I discovered this for myself when I had the opportunity to decorate my own room after moving into a house my junior year of college.

Yet while it’s nearly impossible not to spend some money, there’s no need to break the bank.

Here are six tips to help you decorate a dorm on a budget:

  • 1. First, get familiar with the rules. Certain dorms and apartments don’t permit things like halogen lamps or holes in the wall. Find out the rules before shelling out for anything that’s not permissible.
  • 2. Don’t duplicate big-ticket items. Check with your roommate ahead of time to decide who brings what. You only need one microwave, so it’s pointless for you both to bring one. You’ll save money if you figure out who is responsible for what ahead of time.
  • 3. Check in with family and friends. Before hitting the stores, let your family members and friends know what you’re looking for. They may give it to you for a steal—or even for free. (My aunt generously gave me an entire dining set, toaster oven, coffee maker and crock pot. Fully stocked kitchen? Check.)
  • 4. Don’t be afraid to upcycle. Familiar with Pinterest? It’s a website full of inspiring ideas on refurbishing old furniture and creating unique, inexpensive decorations. Once you get some ideas, comb thrift stores, garage sales and Craigslist for materials.
  • 5. Compare prices before buying. Certain items you really need to buy new. But you don’t need to buy the first item you come across. There are a number of apps you can download to compare prices by store. Pcmag.com lists 10 of the top price comparison apps.
  • 6. Think temporary for the time being. Command strips and well placed washi tape can work wonders on a room. Washi tape comes in every color and pattern imaginable and can be used for just about anything. Command strips allow you to easily hang and remove decorations from your walls.

With a little patience and some creativity, you’ll be happy with your new space and enjoy some savings, too.

College students’ belongings are typically covered by the parents’ or guardians’ homeowners insurance. It’s best to talk to your insurance agent to be sure—especially if you’re living off campus. Talk to an Erie Insurance Agent to find out for sure what’s covered.

Now that you’re dorm is looking good, learn some tips to prevent dorm theft.