Starting out as a student at Uni is incredibly exciting – new friends, new freedom, new city – but it can be a bit daunting, too. All those years of living at home with all the home comforts, help and support of your family are things you’ll really miss. You’ve got to stand on your own two feet and that means dealing with one of life’s more mundane realities…. paying the bills.
Now the ‘Bank of Mum & Dad’ had no doubt sorted all that in the past, but if you’re not living in Halls of Residence and are renting privately, you’re likely to have to sort out dealing with utility providers. Gas, Electric, Water, Broadband, Phone and even TV Licence – they don’t sort themselves. So, here’s an essential reality check.
In an ideal world, you’d have unlimited heat, hot water, the fastest broadband on the planet and someone else would pick up the bill. Unfortunately, to survive life as a student, you have to make compromises and be extremely careful with your money. That means budgeting. Not simply plucking figures from the air and making vague promises of keeping within a loose monthly budget. You’ll need to be incredibly disciplined to avoid getting into financial trouble that can affect your future credit rating.
Work out what you can collectively afford each month and stick to it like superglue. It’s not easy, and in an ideal world, you’d have to do as little as possible but being savvy by saving on certain things, will allow you to spend elsewhere, guilt free.
Finance and friends can be an unhappy mix. For a start, nobody really wants to be responsible for doing dull things like working out who’s paid what, owes what and when it needs paying by. You’re probably thinking it’s daunting and complicated, and you’d not be wrong. When money is tight, it’s easy to fall out over things like paying the bills.
There are different ways of going about setting things up. You can either find one house-member who is confident and willing enough to deal with the multiple utility suppliers, or you could each deal with one. Then it gets complex. Who’s paid who what? Do you 100% trust that person with everyone’s money? Alternatively, do you set up a joint account between all of you, risking all housemates’ credit ratings, and hope that everyone pays the right amount into it in time for the different utility suppliers to take their payment? What happens if someone leaves the house? You can see how arguments start. There must be a simpler, more amicable way to do things.
People are different. Some of us close windows to keep heat in and turn lights out when they leave the room. Some prefer a quick shower. Other’s like a steamy leisurely soak in the bath. You might stick on a jumper if it’s nippy – a mate might whack the heating up. If you’re careful but end up paying for someone else’s excesses, resentment can easily set in especially when unexpectedly hefty bills come through the letterbox.
The unexpected bill is the enemy of budgeting. The other thing is that you can be as careful and consistent as you like, but if you’re on a tariff which isn’t fixed, then you’re also at the mercy of fluctuating energy prices – and they usually only go one way… up. Basically, you could do with some way of protecting yourself against nasty and expensive surprises.
head down studying, you want to be out and about, enjoying student life with your mates. Getting to know your new surroundings. Chilling out. Clubbing. Getting in shape at the gym. Eating and enjoying the odd drink, or seven.
The last thing you need is having to spend an afternoon trawling the web for the best electricity deal. You can do without talking to call centres about getting your water sorted. Or having to go to a bank with all your housemates to set up a joint account. Or trying to find broadband fast and cheap enough to please everyone in the house. If only there was someone who could take care of all that for you?
If you want to explore different practical ways to make sorting all your utility bills as easy as possible in 2020, visit ‘Split The Bills’ here, or, learn more about us below.
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Worried about money next student year? We’ve got a free guide built for you!