Great idea for a thread.
Let's see.. well a lot of the substrates you can get cheaper - and less likely to harbor snake mites
- at garden centres (I still use paper towels).
I get glazed terra cotta saucers for the water bowls and hides. They should be glazed to hold water, otherwise it all seeps out (not such a bad thing for amphibians however).. good to keep mealies, etc. from crawling out of, and better for cleaning. I actually just bought a large clay saucer at a crafts store for under $2. I took a hammer to the lip to make an entrance, and my corn loves it, she feels secure enough not to use the paper towel anymore to hide under during shedding and digestion. Before the saucer, I just used a paper towel tube cut in half. The hides in the stores are so high priced, and if you look at them, not very cozy!
Thought I'd also mention the reflector clamp lamps for overhead lighting/heating here in case anyone's interested. I used to think they could only be had at pet stores. Boy was I wrong
Hardware stores have them (I got mine at Home Depot) for much cheaper. I'm thinking you could even get heat bulbs cheaper at the hardware store, haven't been so lucky to find the right kind yet.
Auskan mentioned wood, if you live near a beach you can even get driftwood in all sizes. I get rocks as well while I'm at it. Scrub, then boil them for 30 minutes or so. The smooth flat ones are good to use for basking areas. They sell both rocks and wood at the pet store here. I returned some fancy wood after realizing how crazy the price was, not worth it (it wasn't marked). Plastic plants are also expensive at the pet stores. Cheaper in the crafts stores. Get some suction cups (dollar store item!) to affix them to the sides of the tank and you're good to go