Bills Guide for Students

Managing bills is an essential part of university life, especially for students moving into shared accommodation. In the UK, students typically need to handle various bills, including rent, utilities (gas, electricity, water), internet, and TV license. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help new university students manage their bills efficiently:

Understanding Different Bills

  1. Rent: This is often your most significant expense. Ensure you understand what your rent covers, as some student accommodations include utilities and internet in the rent.
  2. Utilities: Gas and electricity are essential, especially during the colder months. Water is another utility bill, though in some areas, this may be a fixed annual charge.
  3. Internet: A reliable internet connection is crucial for studying and leisure. Many providers offer packages tailored for students.
  4. TV License: If you watch live TV or use BBC iPlayer, you’ll need a TV license. This is per household, so you can split the cost with your housemates.

Managing Bills

  • Budgeting: Start by creating a budget. List all your expected monthly expenses and income sources. Apps like Mint, YNAB (You Need A Budget), or even a simple spreadsheet can help you track and manage your finances.
  • Bill Splitting: Use apps like Splitwise or Split The Bills to fairly divide expenses among housemates. These apps can track who owes what and simplify the repayment process.
  • Direct Debits and Automated Payments: Setting up direct debits for regular bills can ensure you never miss a payment. Some providers even offer discounts for choosing this payment method.
  • Regular Meter Readings: For utilities, providing regular meter readings to your supplier ensures you’re only paying for what you use, avoiding estimated bills that could be higher.

Choosing Providers and Packages

  • Comparison Websites: Use websites like MoneySuperMarket, Uswitch, or Compare The Market to find the best deals for utilities and internet. These sites allow you to compare prices and packages based on your needs and location.
  • Student Deals: Look out for student-specific deals. Providers often have special rates or packages for students, which could include shorter, more flexible contracts.
  • Bundled Packages: Some companies offer bundled packages that include several services, such as internet, TV, and even mobile. Bundling can be cheaper than purchasing services separately.
  • Energy Tariffs: For gas and electricity, consider fixed-rate tariffs to lock in prices and protect against rate increases during your contract term. However, be mindful of the contract length and any penalties for early termination, especially if you won’t be staying in the property year-round.

Considerations for Student Bills Bundle Packaging

Bundling services can simplify bill management and potentially save money. When considering a bundle package:

  • Inclusive Deals: Some providers offer packages specifically designed for student households, including utilities and internet. These can simplify setup and payments.
  • Flexibility: Ensure the contract length matches your tenancy agreement. Many students only need 9-month contracts, for example.
  • Splitting Costs: Make sure the package can be easily split among housemates. Transparent billing and easy payment splitting are essential.
  • Customer Service: Opt for providers with good customer support, as resolving issues quickly is vital, especially in shared living situations.
  • Check Reviews: Before committing, check customer reviews and feedback for the provider and the specific package to ensure it meets your needs.

Final Tips

  • Communicate with Housemates: Open and regular communication about bill management can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts.
  • Stay Informed: Energy prices and deals change frequently. Stay informed about market trends, especially when your contracts are up for renewal.
  • Energy Efficiency: Reduce bills by being energy-efficient. Simple measures like turning off lights when not in use, not overfilling the kettle, and wearing warmer clothes instead of turning up the heat can save money.

By understanding the different types of bills, budgeting wisely, choosing the right providers, and considering bundled packages, you can manage your bills more effectively and enjoy a smoother university experience.