Estimated reading time: 15 minutes
Many of us spend more money than we need to on vaping. We think more about having the right gear right now than we do looking for ways to vape more cheaply. But if you’re on a low budget and you’re not careful, the everyday cost of vaping can begin to spin out of control.
This article looks at some of the best tried-and-tested ways to vape on the cheap for people who are on a low budget. From tips on what types of devices to choose and avoid, to ways to make e liquid cheaper, you’ll find out how to slash your total vaping costs to less than £20 per month.
But is low budget vaping really doable for those with less available cash to spare?
Can you really vape on a low budget?
It’s totally possible to vape on a restricted budget by spending no more than £200 a year on vape devices and vape juice combined. It’s just that in order to vape this cheaply, you have to be a bit more careful about the type of equipment you go for and where you get it from. You’ll also need to be prepared to get your hands (or gloves) dirty if you decide to save money on e liquid by making your own from scratch.
How much do you spend on vaping in a month or year?
One of the best ways to vape on a budget is to look for opportunities to cut costs in whatever you’re spending on vaping right now.
In other words, simply look at what you spend monthly or yearly on vaping, and break it down on paper. Can you spot any gaping “black holes” (e.g. branded deluxe vape juice) in your vape spend that could be wasting your money? Once you’ve identified these spending traps, then you can start looking for ways to make your vaping cheaper.
Here are six things you can do to stop wasting money and cut the cost of your vaping right now:
How to vape on the cheap: 6 budget vaping tips
1. Make your own cheap vape liquid at home
Making your own e liuid has always been the one of the most cost-effective ways to vape in the UK. But some vapers are often not aware of just how much they can save by mixing their own low cost homemade vape liquid at home.
Why is homemade e liquid so cheap to make?
Making your own vape juice is so affordable firstly because you’re often buying ingredients in fairly large (though not huge) quantities.
This means bigger occasional spends, but much lower ongoing expenses. So you might stock up on nicotine liquid for example, once every three months or so. But then you might not need to spend anything at all, until it runs out.
Another reason why home mixing saves you money is you only need a bare minimum of ingredients and equipment to make your own e liquid.
Aside from the handful of items that you will probably have to buy, you may even already have most of the stuff you need to make vape juice with at home already.
Low cost of vape supplies
To say DIY mixing ingredients and vape supplies are cheap is an understatement.
Costing only around £12.50 per month, ultra low-cost vape ingredients make DIY mixing a surefire way to vape on a shoestring in the UK.
Want to make a year’s supply of your own cheap vape juice from your own ingredients? At current (2021) UK prices you shouldn’t have to spend more than about £150 in total on all your basic supplies.
That’s £12.50 per month, and less than 50p per day.
So, even if you’re spending only £1 a bottle on pre-mixed e liquid right now, you can still cut your costs in half by making your own homemade vape juice, instead.
2. Stop buying expensive disposable vape coils and pods
Beginner vapers like using disposable coils and pods because they’re a doddle. You just screw on your coil. Then you chuck it away after a few days when it gets clogged up or starts to taste weird or burnt.
But then again, they’re a bit of a waste of money.
New users are often aware that disposables are expensive. But they don’t like the idea of having to learn how to set up a rebuildable coil themselves.
If you’re happy with the simplicity of buying disposable vape coils and you can bear the cost of doing this, please carry on.
On the other hand, you might prefer to reduce your vaping costs. You could do this by switching to a cheaper-to-run reusable / rebuildable coil and tank combo.
How much do you spend on coils a month?
Prices and types of disposable vape coils vary hugely. However, in the UK, you can expect to pay from £8 up to £12 for a pack of five single-use vape coils.
This works out on average at about £2 per coil.
You can expect coils to last from around 5 to 10 days before you need to screw on a new one. This cost can vary according to coil quality, how often you vape, voltage, the kind of e-liquid you use, etc.
However, let’s assume you get through one throwaway coil per week (typical usage). This way, you’d end up spending over £8.30 per month – or about £100 a year – just on coils. That’s almost as much as your Netflix subscription.
Pre-made coils are cheaper by far
£100 on coils a year doesn’t seem like a huge amount. But it is nonetheless unnecessary when you could just buy your own much cheaper RTA/RDA tank, pre-wound coils and cotton.
To break this cost down, a single 20-pack (easily a year’s supply) of pre-wound coils would cost you no more than £5. A bag of high-grade vape cotton (6 months’ supply) would cost you around the same.
The only other extra expense you’d need to bear would be a rebuildable coil unit. This would be either a drip tank (RDA), a regular tank (RTA), or a combination of the two (RDTA).
Rebuildable coil units vary massively in quality, style and price. However, for just £20 or so (plus £10 for your pre-wound coils and cotton), you’d still make a saving of £70 per year. Why not go for the low budget option?
3. Buy vape gear from vape outlets, not stores
Ordering vape gear from outlets instead of vape stores can cut your vaping costs considerably – even if you’re not on a budget in the first place. What’s more, it often also means you can get the very latest stuff before anyone else does.
Why are vape outlets cheaper than regular stores?
Vape outlets like New Vaping (UK) are generally the cheapest places to buy vape gear from because they receive bulk orders of newly-released hardware direct from overseas manufacturers usually to a single depot. This may even be even owned, run or franchised by the manufacturers themselves.
Along with savings from bulk imports, vape outlet stores can cut out other costs, too, such as middle-men, store costs and overheads that make smaller online chains more expensive.
Vape outlets are also cheaper to buy from because they don’t hold onto stock for very long. Because they need to keep hardware flying off the shelves, they tend to run more frequent and generous discounts than smaller stores can afford.
How to get even cheaper vape deals from outlet stores
Though outlets are cheap places to buy vape gear from anyway, they are also great places to look for even better bargains that you might not find elsewhere.
- Look for seasonal bargains – site-wide discounts of 20-30% are not unusual
- Go for multi-buy deals on e liquids, tanks, coils, etc
- Check the clearance section – with such a wide range of gear there’s more chance of real bargains
4. Avoid expensive non-refillable pod vapes
Avoiding non-refillable pod e-cigs is yet another wise way to save literally hundreds of pounds when you’re vaping on a low budget.
Pod vapes that can only take disposable, non-refillable pods are simple to use and seem like a cheap way to vape at first. And they are.
Basic pod bundles start at only around £10 nowadays, which is pretty good value for a starter kit. Thanks to such low kit prices, leading pod vape brands like Juul are now outselling standard e-cig models the world over. And that’s one reason why new vapers buy them in the millions. Pod vapes are also great for ex-smokers on a low budget who are just starting out with vaping.
Running costs of disposable pod vapes
However, people often underestimate the potential cost of constantly stocking up on disposable pre-filled juice cartridges. And pretty soon they find the cost of running their pod vape is draining all of their cash.
Pod refills from leading brands cost in the region of £2.50 each. They typically contain around 2 ml of nicotine per capsule. This gives you just under 300 puffs before you need to dispose of the pod and attach a new one.
Though some UK-designed pod vape systems are refillable, most have a “closed system” design. This means that you can’t refill them with your own vape juice (at least officially). Sooner or later, costs build up – and especially if pods are your only full-time vape.
Comparing running costs of disposable vape pods vs refillables
Compare pod refill costs with the average price of branded vape juice (around £4 per 10 ml bottle) and you can see how little value for money for you get with non-refillable pod vape devices.
A fresh cartridge might last you a day or so if you only have the odd puff – but it’s more likely you’ll get through two, three, or more pods in any given a day if this is your only vape device.
Even if you use only two disposable pods per day (£5), you’ll be looking at a total cost of £1,825 on pods over a year. And it goes without saying that that is no way to vape on a budget.
Get a refillable pod vape instead and slash your running costs
A much better way to save money on pods is to go for a refillable pod vape. Refillable pod vape systems work just like disposables, except that pods are blank (or empty), meaning you can fill and refill them yourself.
Yes, refillable pod vapes often (but not always) cost a bit more more that your average Juul, etc. But the initial cost will be offset by much lower running costs. After all, you’ll be able to ditch your pricey disposable pods forever, and refill with your own cheaper e liquid. And of course, if you make your own e liquid for your pods, costs will fall even faster.
5. Use cheaper short fills instead of 10 ml bottles of e liquid
Are you still buying tiny 10 ml bottles of vape liquid and paying (on average) £4 for each one on a near-daily basis? If so, you’d do well to consider the comparatively cheap option of “short fills”, which generally cost a fraction of the price of bottled vape juice.
How much do you spend on e liquid?
On average, vapers who don’t use shortfills probably get through around 5 – 7 ml of e-liquid every day, though others use considerably more. However much vape juice you get through, consider this:
If you bought just one 10 ml bottle of pre-mixed e-liquid every day, for one year, you would have spent around £120 a month – or just under £1,500 by the end of that year. That’s a lot of money you didn’t need to spend, and an unnecessarily expensive way to vape.
Comparative cost of short fills vs e liquid
Shortfills on the other hand, will cost you just £50 per month – or £600 per year for the same amount of e-liquid. Shortfills are nic-free, flavoured vape juice bases, which come in big bottles and give you the option of adding your own nicotine shots.
Regardless of the actual amount of bottled e-liquid you’re vape every day right now, shifting over to lower cost shortfill e-liquid is an easy way to slash your vape spending overnight by 70%. This means you can treat yourself to a potential saving of over £900 a year!
Unlike 10ml e-liquids, short fills come in bigger bottles of 100 ml. UK short fill prices average around £11 unmixed, or up to £16 with nicotine shots added onto your order.
Even with nic shots included, switching to shortfills costs less money over time. For those who want a simple, inexpensive, mess-free vape, shortfills are a great way to start saving money.
6. Buy end-of-line bargain clearance gear
Have you ever bought vape gear from the clearance section of your favourite vape website? Or do you instead find yourself always looking to buy the very latest gear, without even considering the price?
For many Brits these days, vaping has become very different from what it used to be. Brand new vape gear is what vapers have to have, while end-of-line stuff is just not worth bothering about.
What was once an inexpensive and less harmful alternative to smoking has now become a lifestyle for many vapers. And it’s a lifestyle that requires regular big spends on the latest vape hardware.
That is unless you decide to start buying end-of-line clearance vape gear.
UK vape shops and online stores have responded to the constant demand for new stuff. And they do this by clearing out old products as soon as the next big thing comes along.
Devices that were fine to vape on this time last year suddenly appear in the bargain clearance vape section of their websites. And this is within just a few months of those products launching.
Bargain vape clearance opportunities
This of course creates an opportunity for thriftier UK customers. You know, cheapskates (like me) on the constant look out for budget vapes.
You can fly with this by either “skimming” or “scanning” for cheaper clearance items you want online. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with a spanking brand new mod (from last year) at a fraction of the price.
On the other hand, if you haven’t a clue exactly what you’re after, you can just “skim” for cut-price unwanted items. Do this by running a web search for something like “clearance+mods”. It’s also a good idea to specify a recent time span and location (e.g. in last month / UK).
Failing that, you can also try going through the clearance sections of your favourite web stores and see what they have there, instead.
Avoid vape clearance bargain pitfalls
Clearance vape bargains are always a bit of a lucky dip. So, it’s a good idea to do a little research (on vape forums) before you buy the reduced-price item you want. This is just to see if it’s any good in the first place.
On the other hand, you may already have a specific end-of line device in mind (e.g. a tank or mod). If so, you can “scan” for it by running an online search for the discounted device. Simply run a search with the device name followed by the term: “clearance”, e.g. “Smok X123 Mod + clearance”.
The bad news is that some web stores are finding ways to exploit this increased low budget demand for end-of-line vaping gear. These rogues are now starting to fill their clearance sections with old items, but at full price. Be quick!
Final budget vaping advice: don’t ignore discounts
These days almost all UK vape suppliers are competing fiercely for market share. To achieve this, they very regularly offer big discounts on their products to keep customers loyal.
Making sure to sniff around and make use of deals and offers on vaping products orders is a surefire way to vape cheaply in the UK.
Always look for discounts
In many cases, the product retail prices you see on websites are already inflated by suppliers to allow for discounts, and this is why you should NEVER pay the full price for UK vape products without first searching hard for vape discount coupons or deals on them.
As a general rule, discount offers are usually bigger (often as high as 30%) on orders from new customers, though existing customers can also benefit from ongoing discounts of 10% – or even 20% – in some online vape stores.
Use loyalty schemes
Alongside running searches for discount coupons, you should also find out if your supplier or store has a points or loyalty scheme, which will credit you with points for every purchase you make.
Of course, though a few pennies here and there doesn’t seem like a lot of money you’re saving at the time. But after a while, it will make a big difference if you’re serious about vaping on a budget.
Loyalty schemes are pretty common in physical stores in the UK (high street vape shops) so it’s always worth asking if they have one before you buy anything.