Investment Items

Last week I spoke about reusable makeup remover pads, and this week I thought I would continue along the same lines and discuss other items that I have invested in and that have saved me money in the long term.

The idea here is quite simple. If you are investing in something that will replace a disposable item, then that overtime will save you money. Also, if that item will allow you to live more frugally, then chances are that will save you some cash in the long run too. I have split this down into some broad categories. Let’s take a look.

Clothes

I like to buy high quality, sometimes branded clothes whenever I can. I try to pick up my clothes during sales, or online to get the best deals. Better quality clothes will stand up to washing and if you decide you no longer want them they will hold a lot of their value for resale. This gives me the freedom to change my wardrobe at minimal cost, for just a little bit of effort.

When buying clothes I always try them on, and when buying online I check the returns policy. There is no point in having ill fitting clothes that you won’t enjoy wearing and that will end up just filling your wardrobe.

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You don’t have to buy brands, but it helps when you come to sell.

If you are a student, like me, then a lot of clothing shops do student discount, always ask if they will apply student discount on top of sale prices. Some shops, like Jack Wills, for example won’t give you student discount on top of sale prices normally. But their online shop will. You can try an item on in store and then buy it online to get the discount, but be aware of postage costs.

Overall I try to buy clothes that will all work together, as a not so small capsule wardrobe. Honestly, I don’t go clothes shopping all that often. I make the best of what I have and really consider a purchase if I need it.

A lot of what I have just said regarding clothes also applies to shoes. Good shoes can be resoled many times, a simple shoe care kit of some brushes and polish will keep shoes clean and help them to last you for years.

Clothes Airer

If you are a student and living in Halls, like I was last year, then you are probably going to have to use a laundry to wash your clothes. You can save on the cost of drying them by investing in an airer.

NB: A lot of Halls will say that you aren’t allowed one, but they don’t exactly come around and check. I’d judge it off what everyone else is doing, it’s your decision.

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My 3 tiered Airer. I can easily fit 2 loads of washing onto this

Now I live in a student house and we don’t have a dryer, there is no way that I am trekking down to the laundrette to use one. So I will use my drying rack inside the house during the winter, this is a lot more efficient than putting your clothes directly onto the radiator. Luckily I have a washing line outside, so I will use this during the summer months, and on days when the weather is changeable I will take my dryer in and out with the clothes on it to maximise drying time. There is also something lovely about having fresh dried clothes from outside.

Air drying your clothes is also much better for them in the long run as opposed to tumble drying them, the heat can really damage your clothes. Also this is better for the environment. So a win win.

Food Containers

Airtight containers are a must if you want to pinch the pennies in the kitchen. You can use them to store and freeze any bulk meals you make, help keep foods fresh and are good lunchboxes.

While the takeaway boxes will make do for a short while, if you want a better and more permanent solution, that you aren’t afraid of leaking your lunch over the inside of you bag, then some properly airtight containers are the way to go.

Personally, I like the clip lock style of container. Especially for lunches. I think that these stand the best chance of staying shut when thrown into my bag. In my house we also have a whole load of different size containers that we got from Ikea for £4 for the set. The smaller sizes are good for keeping halves of vegetables fresh, or for taking snacks into uni. The bigger sizes are great for freezing too.

As mentioned in my How I save money as a student post I also have a flask for hot drinks and a water bottle. I won’t go into anymore detail here, but go have a look at the original post.

Flannels and Pads

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Keeping it bright with my flannels

You guys are all well aware of how much I love my reusable make up remover pads. But I also love having flannels to wash my face with. Simple, but effective. Flannels replace any need I have for face wipes and I can change the soaps or cleansers I use depending on how my skin is. A flexibility that wipes just can’t offer.

Bag for Life

In my bag I always have a bag for life folded up and tucked somewhere out of the way. This is especially money saving now that there is a 5p bag charge in England. This is good for the environment and it makes walking back with heavy items, like milk or fruit a lot more enjoyable. No plasticy straps digging into my hands!

 

This is hardly an exhaustive list, and I’d like to know what investment items do you swear buy? Let me know in the comments.

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Reusable Makeup Remover Pads?

One thing that frustrates me is when I use disposable items where a more permanent item would do the same job. I think that the decision to invest in a permanent solution is more environmentally conscious, and will save you money in the long term. This also means that you only have a small amount of reuseable things, rather than many more disposable things, because you aren’t throwing them away after every use.

I use cotton fabric makeup remover pads. I have a mix of soft pads and some slightly rougher ones. These are great to use with makeup remover or micellar water in exactly the same way you would use conventional cotton pads, the only difference being that when you have taken all of your makeup you put these in the laundry rather than the bin.

The rougher pads especially are great for cleaning my face. They work well with my Angels on bare skin cleanser from lush as the rough texture of the fabric works with the exfoliating almond bits in the wash to give my face a really good, but still gentle clean.

I have 9 pads, which works fine for me, even if sometimes I need two to take off particularly heavy makeup. Although I use fewer of these than I would usual make up pads because they hold up better and won’t fall apart when I am using them. If I wore makeup everyday I would invest in more. These get washed at least once a week on a hot wash with my bedding, and if anyone else in the house is doing a white wash then I will sneak a few in then too.

I got mine here. Of course you could make your own.

How I save money as a student, and how you can too.

Drinks

One of the easiest ways to save money is to avoid buying unnecessary things! While making lunches, which I will come onto, takes a little bit of pre planning and effort, taking drinks with you when you are out of the house can easily become a habit.

I always take a full water bottle with me to university. This saves me from buying drinks when I am out of the house  which in turn saves me money. Also this helps to keep me on the straight and narrow in what I am drinking. This habit has really helped me to reduce the amount of fizzy drinks that I buy, which is great for my health.

The best thing about taking water with you is that you don’t need to spend anything to get going. Chances are you will have an old bottle lying about from drinks you have purchased, so instead of throwing it away, recycle it into your new water bottle. Of course you can buy one if you are looking for something more substantial, or haven’t got an old bottle. Careers fairs and events on campus are an excellent place to pick up a new water bottle, free of charge! Also you can fill up your bottle throughout the day and so you are never without a drink.

If you don’t like water you can always take squash with you instead, but make sure you are cleaning your bottle more regularly if you do this to avoid any unpleasant tastes in your drink.

Sometime you just really need a cup of coffee. While Starbucks, Costa and even the University ran cafe will cost you around £3 for a coffee, if not more, if you make a coffee at home and take it with you in a thermal flask this significantly cuts down on this cost.

I use a lifeventure 300ml flask, this is roughly the same as a small cup of coffee. The RRP for this is £13, but I got mine on sale for £10. This is a good investment as it has already lasted me well over a year and shows no sign of giving up soon, so for the cost of maybe three coffees from a cafe I can take my own drinks in, saving me money in the long run.

Depending on how you look at this, there are a few downsides, or positives… So if you want more than one hot drink in the day then this can be a limitation, but I like to see it a good way of managing how much caffeine I am drinking. Also you are limited to drinks that you can make at home. No gingerbread lattes here, however the syrups are mostly sugar anyway, so this makes me make a better choice for my health.

All of this isn’t to say that I don’t occasionally buy a can of Diet Coke or a coffee or hot chocolate on campus. But I definitely don’t buy nearly as many as I used to.

Food

If possible cooking with other people is a good way to cut the cost of groceries and split the effort of cooking a meal. In my house 3 out of the 4 of us cook together. This is a fairly flexible arrangement as there are some days of the week where some of us just aren’t in to eat with everyone else and sometimes we can go away for a weekend or for reading week.

I think that one of the things that scares people away from sharing food is that they imagine that there has to be a lot of commitment and that everyone has to do it. But in reality you can have a lot of flexibility as long as it is planned in advance and everyone communicates well.

When I say that I meal plan it isn’t some scary chart with everyone of my meals on it. Generally we will only plan 5 meals for the week as this is all we will manage to commit to. We plan this on a board from paperchase, which to be honest isn’t the best quality, but the layout is great and suits us well. There is no need for us to plan breakfasts as we have similar things every day. For lunches, I have a rough idea of what I want but will generally try to use leftovers and things that we already have.

Where you shop can have a big impact on how much a week you are having to spend on groceries. Big supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda are all quite similar in price. Whereas the discount supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl can be noticeably cheaper. We shop once a week at Aldi, and will top up on things like milk and eggs if we absolutely need to.

Aldi is great, the variety in what they sell, although this changes from week to week, has definitely increased from when I was younger and my parents used to shop there. You can get most of the basics that you need here. They also have some free range options for meat and eggs.

What you buy also affects the overall price of your weekly shop. We cook mostly things from scratch, or as much as possible. This may be a bit more effort than cooking more processed foods, but because there are three of us cooking we cut the time we individually spend cooking so it is fine to spend a bit more time cooking cheaper, as well as more nutritious meals. It is easy to live healthily on a budget with just a little bit of planning. Usually we spend between £22 -£35 a week on food for the 3 of us, so around £8 to £12 a week each. This depends mostly on if we need more meat, or if we have ran out of things for the house.

Taking lunch to university saves me money in the same way that taking water and coffee saves me money. When we cook we try to bear in mind what lunches we might need and if necessary overcook some of the food, mostly the carbohydrate element of the meal to help make lunches a bit easier.

I, personally, am not a big fan of sandwiches. I prefer to take a salad or a leftovers as my lunch. Fried rice is a great lunch and one that I really enjoy, it is great to stir fry any sorry looking vegetables into and it is easy to incorporate an egg, boosting the protein content of the meal.

Avoiding temptation

As I mentioned at the start the easiest way to save money is not to spend money. While this is common sense it is much easier to not spend money if you avoid temptation. I try not to go shopping for fun as much as possible, and write a wishlist in my journal of things that I need, or rather want to buy. By not making the purchase immediately it lets me think over if I actually need the item.

Cold hard cash is often a lot harder to hand over than just swiping your card. I try and take about half of my weekly budget out as cash on a Monday. Usually this will last me just fine. Having the real money in my purse makes it easy to keep track of, and dissuades any impulse purchases.

 

I really hope that these tips will help you get better control over your lifestyle and money. There is a lot more that I could mention, but I think that these tips are the easiest to get started on and can make a big difference.

Do you have any money saving tips that work for you? I’d love to know.