Have you sorted your bills for next year?
There's a lot to think about when you move into a new house for the first time...
And setting/sorting out your bills is one of those things that won't just go away on its own.
Your parents may have made it seem like a doddle but it can be a lot more confusing than you think! To help you out, here is a guide on how to set up your bills when you're living with others:
Bills you need to pay
1. Gas and electricity
These will most likely be your biggest bills; you may only have electricity as some student houses don't have gas. If you have both it's normally cheaper to combine them together in a dual fuel tariff. To keep track of how much you're using and make sure you're paying the right amount, you will need to take meter readings regularly.
You will only have one provider of water, so you won't need to shop around for the cheapest deal. You'll either be on a standard tariff which is billed monthly or yearly, or you'll have a water meter where you'll be charged for the exact amount you use.
With wifi, you will want to shop around for the cheapest deal. You won't need a landline, so you can buy a package with just wi-fi in it. Keep in mind the length of the contract you need, you don't want to move out and still have to pay for wifi. The speed of wi-fi is important too - no one wants the attic room with no access to the internet!
4. TV license
If you want to be able to watch live tv, you will need to get your hands on one of these but don't worry because they cost as little as £13 a month.
5. Council tax
If you are a full-time student, you don't have to pay council tax which saves you a bit of money, however, you must apply for an exemption and make your local council aware that you are a student. Different councils vary but the GOV.uk website will have all the information you need.
When you move into your house, it will most likely already be supplied by someone but a big mistake you can make is to stick with them. It may take time and effort but shopping around will save you money. When you move in, you will need to take a meter reading for your gas, electricity and water (if you have one) - this will ensure you are only paying for the water, gas and electricity you use instead of paying for the people who lived in there before you.
It's much easier to switch providers than you think. The companies will inform each other of the switch so you don't have to do it, making the switching process a lot smoother!
Splitting the bills
When it comes to splitting the bills, make sure it's fair on every housemate. You need to make sure bills are paid on time too as this could affect someone's credit rating. Every house is different but there are 3 different ways that you can split bills:
1. Assign bills to each housemate
Someone can be responsible for gas and electric whilst someone else would have wi-fi and then all you would have to do is split the amount by the number of housemates and they would transfer the amount to that person. With this method, it can get confusing as you are having to transfer a number of people different amounts, so it's easier to get a spreadsheet going.
2. Bill splitting app
There apps that will split your bills for you which are free! Splitwise; makes it possible to request payments from others and add comments and due dates. It also shows you who has paid and who hasn't, making it a lot easier to figure out who owes what.
3. Joint bank account
This is where someone sets up another bank account and all the bills come out of one bank account. If you're going to do this, it's best if they set up a standing order to ensure that some money is always in there to cover the bills. Trust us, it'll save the hassle of having to repay each other!
Some extra tips
- Put everyone's names on the bills so none is held solely responsible.
- Set your bills up as soon as you can, don't hang about.
- Always read the small print - you need to understand exactly how your contract works.
- Communicate with your housemates to make sure there are no late payments as this could result in charges.
- Set up standing orders so you don't have to keep reminding people to pay their share!
This is such an exciting point of your university life, so don't start falling out with your housemates over bills before you've even moved in!
Instead, pop down to your local pub and discuss it over a drink; this way it doesn't seem like such a chore.
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