Leaving the nest

Money columnist Amanda Blinkhorn explains how to keep your students finance-savvy…

Saving for education

If you have a student in the family about to leave home or who wants to rebel against minimalism, now is the time to feather your or their nest.

I trawled Ikea, Homebase, Habitat and Sainsbury’s for “setting up home” bargains this weekend. For all-out variety and value Ikea wins, but for stylish essentials, Sainsbury’s comes out top – their beautiful copper saucepans are now half price and look far too good for students.

If you’re looking for presents rather than essentials – either now or at Christmas when the novelty of uni may have dimmed and they’re looking for home comforts, Habitat is your place. Affordable distinctive (ie clearly “mine”) plates, bowls and serving dishes and covetable – if slightly pricey – dressing gowns and towels.

Kitting out student kitchens is a bit like buying wedding presents without a store list – it’s very easy to end up with a kitchen with four kettles, three toasters and no cereal bowls. Once they’ve got their place in halls, encourage them to use Facebook (for once) where they can meet future roommates to combine resources.

If you’re feeling empty-nesty, cheer yourself up by re-stocking the garden now instead of in spring – the RHS swears it’s cheaper and better to plant now. They’re offering 12-month’s membership for the price of nine (from £55 to £41.25 for single membership £80 down to £60 for joint). Find out more here.

Winter is coming and if you keep getting alerts that you’re paying too much for your electricity don’t ignore them; dig out your utility bills and find out which tariff you’re on. Do it now, trying to work it out at the last minute is the main hurdle that prevents people from switching to a cheaper supplier. While you’re at it, find your household insurance bill too. If you can’t face working out whether you’re paying over the odds or are completely covered, use the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) to find yourself a broker – they can do all the donkey work for you. It’s a chore, but nothing compared to paying for a new roof or boiler. Find out more here.


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