Off to Uni? Shop the Essentials on a Budget

Get prepared for student life with our guide to shopping the essentials without blowing your budget!

Don’t pack the kitchen sink

Heading to university is a big move, but remember, it is only temporary. It makes sense to make your student accommodation feel homely, but it won’t be home forever, so just take the essentials with a few additional extras to personalise your space.

Think cheap and cheerful

No matter how careful you are, things will get broken or lost, so it’s worth saving money by opting for cheaper alternatives to expensive branded items. Stores like Asda and Wilko have excellent student essential collections at affordable prices, so if you smash a few plates, it won’t break the bank to replace them.

TOP TIP: Stick to budget options over branded once you arrive – especially when food shopping! Check out our round up of brand vs budget.

Budget, budget, budget

Student life can be hard on your wallet, but with a little budgeting know-how, you needn’t be a struggling student. Adopting shopping habits to save you money can help you stick to a budget, such as comparing prices online before making big purchases, like a laptop, or waiting until a discount event to stock up on your stationery. Love to Shop vouchers can also be a way to help you plan your budget, by assigning set amounts for your purchases in stores to avoid overspending.

What is already there?

A top money-saving tip is to check out what will already be provided by your accommodation before you head out to the shops. If each room already has lamps and a small bin, then there are two things you can check off your list.

Adding a personal touch

Taking a few little reminders of home, like your favourite pillowcase or mug, will make your room feel more personal and won’t cost you a penny. You can also brighten up your space on a budget with some fairy lights, quirky ornaments or synthetic flowers from stores such as Ikea and Primark.

Fairy lights in bedroom


Student life requires a variety of clothing from study day joggers and tees, to going out outfits, and everything in between. Don’t bring your whole wardrobe, but key pieces to match every occasion and weather possibility. Make sure to bring a smart formal option, so you don’t get caught short and have to splash out on an expensive outfit if there is a professional event or interview opportunity.

Ultimate Essentials

Don’t forget any of the must-have student basics with our essential Uni checklist:

  • Bedroom: Duvet, bedsheets, pillowcases, mattress protector, small bin, lamp, pictures from home
  • Kitchen: Plates, cutlery, mugs, glasses, pots, frying pan, baking sheet, kitchen utensils, tea towels, chopping board, microwavable bowl
  • Electricals: Laptop, charger, kettle, toaster, hairstyling equipment (dryer, straighteners etc.)
  • Laundry: Basket for dirty laundry, foldable large bag (to transfer laundry), detergent
  • Bathroom: Personal toiletries, cleaning products, towels, (face, hand, body)
  • Stationery: Notebooks, pens, USB stick, wall calendar, notice board push pins, plastic pockets, folders, stapler

Plates and bowls uni essentials


To continue saving the pennies whilst at University, check out a whole host of our money saving tips that you can try…

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