Getting to grips with your Bills

Getting to grips with your Bills

April 30, 2016

Getting to grips with your Bills

Rent

Council Tax

Utilities

Internet/TV

Food

Entertainment

Living on your own is one of the biggest perks of becoming a student; you make all the rules, and no-one tells you what to do. The downside to this is that there isn’t anyone to take care of things for you, and you’re entirely responsible for yourself! Our handy guide to surviving student life gives you a leg up when it comes to managing your uni life, but knowing what bills to expect and budgeting properly is a topic all of its own. The key to managing your finances while you study is having a clear idea of what you’ll need to pay for, and how much it’s going to cost; we’ve broken down some of the more major expenses, along with a few common pitfalls and hidden costs, to help make your time at university a success!

Rent

Rent is the big one, though you won’t necessarily have to pay it if you live in halls. Rent is usually paid monthly, split between all the tenants of the property (bear in mind that even though you’re all separate tenants, everyone who signed the contract is legally responsible for the full amount of rent each month; if one person falls behind, it’s your collective responsibility to make up the shortfall!) Depending on the terms of your contract, your rent might cover utilities bills and council tax, though you shouldn’t assume so. If your tenancy runs through holidays you’ll also have to pay rent for them even if you aren’t living there, so if possible it’s a good idea to take out a contract that only runs for the time you’ll be living there!

Utility Bills

Unless you’re planning on living in darkness and washing in streams you’ll need to budget for a utilities bill every quarter (3 months). You can estimate the costs of this by going online and searching for the average usage of a household like yours each month. It’s a good idea to keep your housemates informed of how much they owe to avoid falling behind on your payments – although it’s an absolute last resort, utilities companies will cut off your supply if you fall into debt for too long!

Council Tax

As a student, you are usually exempt from paying Council Tax, but you’ll need to inform your local Council once you move in to avoid receiving unnecessary bills. Keep in mind that your bill is not deducted from the total tax payable for the property; you simply aren’t liable for paying it. This means that if some people in your household aren’t students, they will be responsible for the whole bill, not a reduced amount of it! Because Council Tax can be a lot of money (£100+ per month), this can be a big burden on anyone who isn’t currently studying, so don’t expect your final year housemates to keep living with you once they’ve graduated!

Internet/TV

These days it’s quite common to use a computer as your household television, but even if you don’t use any TV services you’ll still need a license if you access “live TV” (i.e as it’s being broadcast). If you don’t need a TV license, you’ll need to inform the TV License company anyway, to prove that you don’t need to be paying for one.

Almost every property will have an internet connection, but choosing the right supplier is important to get the service you want. When looking at prices don’t forget to factor in the “line rental” charge, which is payable on top of your monthly internet bill – packages advertised as “free for 12 months” usually exclude the line rental charge from this amount. You should also look at estimated actual download speeds (much lower than the advertised maximum), and whether there are any restrictions on usage – “unlimited” doesn’t actually always mean unlimited, so read that fine print!

Food

It’s easy to keep you food bills under control without having to live off tins of beans and soup: knowing a few recipes lets you feed yourself well for a reasonable price, and if you share the cooking with your housemates you can all benefit from cheap and easy meals! If you have your food delivered you’ll be able to buy all sorts of heavy, bulky items that you wouldn’t be able to transport yourself, so the extra pound or two is money well spent. Read our “10 Favourite Student Meals” for some ideas for delicious meals that are simple to put together.

Entertainment

                Though you’re at university to study, you’re also free to make your own rules, so put a little cash aside to enjoy yourself. So long as you’re able to have fun on a budget there’s no reason you can’t go out and have fun – read our “Guide to Surviving Student Life” for some ideas of how to enjoy your time at uni without running through your loan too fast!