Setting up bills in your second year accommodation

Posted 3 weeks ago

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Handling your bills might seem straightforward until you actually have to do it. While your parents may have made it look easy, the reality can be quite confusing at times and you will want to avoid overpaying in these high cost of living times. To ease you into the process of managing bills with housemates, here’s a handy guide:

Bills you’ll need to manage

  1. Gas and electricity: These are typically your heaviest expenses. Not all student accommodations have gas; some only have electricity. If you do have both, it's usually more cost-effective to opt for a dual fuel tariff. Regular meter readings are crucial to ensure you're being billed correctly for your usage.
  2. Water: You’ll have just one water provider, so no need to shop around here. You might be on a standard tariff, billed monthly or annually, or have a meter and pay for exactly what you use.
  3. Wi-Fi: This is one bill where shopping around pays off. You likely won’t need a landline, so look for a Wi-Fi-only package. Pay attention to contract length to avoid paying for service after moving out, and consider the internet speed, especially in larger houses where coverage can vary.
  4. TV license: If you plan on watching live TV, a TV license is essential. Fortunately, it’s relatively inexpensive, but think about how many streaming services you pay for and decide whether you could give live TV a miss or not.
  5. Council tax: Good news for full-time students - you’re exempt from council tax. However, you must apply for an exemption and notify your local council of your student status. Information on how to do this is available on the GOV.uk website.

Switching providers

Don't settle for the existing utility providers when you move in. It's worth comparing prices as switching can save you money. Remember to take initial meter readings for gas, electricity, and water to ensure you’re only charged for what you actually use.

Switching is easier than it sounds 0 the companies handle the notifications amongst themselves, making the process smooth but you have to be the one to get the ball rolling.

Fairly splitting the bills

Ensuring everyone pays their fair share is crucial:

  • Assign bills: Allocate each bill to a different housemate. This method requires good organisation, possibly a spreadsheet, to keep track of who owes what.
  • Use a bill-splitting app: Apps like Splitwise can simplify the process by managing who’s paid and who hasn’t, reducing confusion and ensuring everyone pays their share.
  • Set up a joint bank account: Having one account for all house-related bills can streamline payments. Set up standing orders to this account to cover expenses without constant reminders.

Extra tips for smooth sailing

  • Include everyone’s names on the bills to avoid single-person liability.
  • Set up your utilities as soon as possible to avoid last-minute issues.
  • Always read the fine print in your contracts to avoid surprises.
  • Communicate regularly with your housemates about bill payments to avoid late fees.
  • Consider setting up standing orders for bill payments to keep things on track.

Discussing bills might not be the most exciting part of university life, but addressing them head-on can prevent disagreements. Why not make these discussions a bit more enjoyable? Next time you're at the pub or hanging out in the park, bring up the topic. This way, it feels less like a chore and more like part of your social time.