Starting university life in student accommodation is an exciting experience. It is the opportunity to perhaps enjoy more freedom than you have previously been accustomed to, meet and live with new people or reside with your current set of friends as you embark on the next stage of your learning journey.
Yet one of the biggest, thorniest issues which can throw a spanner in the works and disrupt the harmony is money. Paying bills is a fact of life once you have flown the nest and left behind the Bank of Mum and Dad.
Organising bills, especially when it is new to you, can feel like a complex and stressful process, even more so when they have to be split between several of you. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Set your stall out early by sitting down together for a sensible conversation about what needs to be paid and when the payment is due, before getting down to the nitty-gritty of how much money each housemate will need to contribute to make it a fair split.
Why not divide the bills between those living in the student accommodation? Every housemate takes responsibility for either telephone, water, electricity, broadband, gas etc. Once those roles have been selected, each tenant will pay one bill each.
For example, if Jane takes charge of the telephone bill in a house of four and it comes to £40, she will need to collect £10 per month from her three housemates.
When you know how much a bill will cost each month, it is a good idea for all of you to set up direct debits to each other’s bank accounts. Instead of Jane chasing that £10 every four weeks, the direct debit arrangement ensures it is automatically paid into her bank on the same day each month.
You also have the alternative option of setting up joint bank accounts, although this should only be considered a viable route to go down if you completely trust each other.
It would be a wise move to arrange your utilities and bills as soon as you can, because installation of features like broadband and telephone lines can sometimes take up to a month to be completed – meaning you face up to starting university life without access to the worldwide web in your student accommodation.
When bills do land through the letterbox, be sure to read the small print. Price increases by major companies are certainly not unheard of, and come as a nasty surprise if you don’t take the time to absorb all of the information in their correspondence.
Most importantly of all, communicate with each other. If you are struggling financially, don’t bury your head in the sand and incur a late payment charge, which can hit all of you in the pocket – be honest, explain the circumstances and agree upon a plan that works for everyone moving forwards.
Homes for Students is one of the UK’s leading providers of student accommodation. With Home for Students, the utility bills are included in the weekly prices, along with free broadband and WiFi.