10 surprising student essentials that save you money

Piggy bank

When it comes to stocking up a student house, a few choice buys can earn their keep and save cash to boot. Save the Student reveals the gadgets that cut the mustard…

1. Energy-saving plug

Essentially a timer for electronic gadgets, energy-saving plugs automatically cut the current off after a set amount of time – handy if you forget (or can’t be bothered) to turn things off at the socket like you know you should! You can pick up a plug for around £9 on Amazon and, while that sounds pricey, they can help bring your bills back down to earth.

2. Flask

Flasks are the trolley bag of kitchen kit: they’re don’t look that sexy, but they sure make life easier! Fill a flask with your fave beverage (or even tap water) and take it with you to uni to swerve paying for the bottled stuff – that alone could save you a fiver every week. Or opt for a Thermos and you can carry hot drinks, soups and leftovers, meaning less spent on takeaway lunches too.

3. Moka pot

If you’ve ever been tempted by a big-bucks coffee maker – or you keep giving your student loan to Starbucks – a moka pot could be for you! These stove-top coffee makers are easy enough to find online and in local markets for less than a fiver. You fill the bottom with boiling water, stick coffee grounds in the chamber, then pop it on a cooker ring to brew proper coffee, retro-style. Nice.

4. Mooncup

The delightfully named Mooncup is an alternative to tampons – they’re worn in the same way but, unlike tampons, are re-usable. Not only does that make them better for the environment but they last for years … you can see where we’re going with this! The original Mooncup costs £20, so pays for itself in 6–8 months – but similar brands are available online for as little as a fiver. They don’t suit everyone, but at this price they’re worth a look!

Heads-up: Your students’ union may have free or reduced sanitary products – you may as well ask there first.

5. Mesh laundry bag

Stick delicate clothes (underwear, bras, socks, swimming costumes, etc) in a mesh bag before tossing in the washing machine with the rest of your load: the net stops your stuff getting snagged or pulled out of shape (or lost in the back of the drum). Bottom line? Your clothes last longer, meaning fewer unnecessary replacements. Try Wilko’s £2 option.

6. Colour-run catchers

Sorting clothes by colour (and, if you’re some kind of domestic maniac, by weight and type) is fine if you do communal/household laundry. If not, it’s expensive and time-consuming – which is where colour catchers come in. Pop one of these special sheets in with your wash, and any colours that run stick to it instead of all over your clothes – meaning you can bundle everything in in one load for less cost. Check your pound or discount store for the cheap sheets.

7. Clothes drying rack

Clothes racks are nothing new, but with loads of options for under £15 they’re easy on student budgets – and, used properly, cut cost of using tumble dryers down to zilch.

  • If you’re low on space, go for the hanging variety – they come with clips so you can attach your undies then hang the rack from a shower rail or curtain pole.
  • Some small racks clip to a radiator: handy if you time drying with when the heating’s on anyway.
  • Stand alone racks are good if you’ve a whole load (or bedsheets) to deal with – pop them outside on warm dry days for extra zippy drying times.

Need to know: Avoid drying at home if you’ve problems with damp or mouldy walls. Get on to your landlord about the mould issues (eg you may need them to fit an extractor fan in the bathroom to help clear the post-shower steam), keep your house well ventilated and stick with the laundromat in the meantime!

8. White vinegar

You can’t sprinkle it on your chips, but cleaning-grade white vinegar can save a small fortune on cleaning kit. Mix one part vinegar with three parts water and a few drops of essential oil in a spray bottle for a multi-purpose cleaner. Forget buying kettle, toilet and shower descalers too: white vinegar will do the job just as well. It can even replace fabric softener: just stick a cup of the white stuff in the conditioner tray and leave it to do its thing.

White vinegar can be tricky to track down (try Amazon if no luck locally), but it quickly pays for itself and, as you’ll often use it diluted, lasts a long time.

9. Shower timer

A timer (see if you can get one free here) can keep you speedy in the shower, knocking pounds off your heating bills over a year. Use it when washing-up as well for even more savings on water and energy.

10. Hair-cutting kit

If you’re brave enough to cut or clip your own hair, invest in decent gear to make it less of a gamble. The right kit – and a steady hand – can save hundreds in salon fees. Not sure you can hack it? Watch YouTube vids, nail the theory and practise with a trim before opting for a full re-style!

Guest blog written by Ruth Bushi, an editor at Save the Student – the UK’s largest student money advice site

Image: ptnphoto/123rf.com

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