So you’ve got to your new student house, divided up the kitchen cupboards as fairly as possible, tried to divide the bedrooms up with minimal fallings out and now the time has come to divide up the dreaded house bills.
As what is likely to be your first shared house, the idea of splitting bills with people you don’t know very well can seem like scary territory. However, it doesn’t have to be. Follow this handy guide to dividing bills and living in student harmony.
The key to happy living is communication and this could not be said enough when it comes to paying bills. As tedious as it may sound, before sourcing your providers, arrange a house meeting so everyone knows what to look for. Try to do this as soon as possible, as broadband can take a few weeks to activate and nobody wants to study without Wi-Fi.
While searching, assign each person a utility to look for, so if one person is looking for broadband, another is looking for electricity. This can help avoid arguments and get the job done quicker. The overall utilities you will want are broadband, gas, electricity, water, and a landline and a TV license if need be. A handy tool to compare the prices of these things is Save the Student’s Comparison Page.
After searching, ensure everyone is happy with the chosen companies. At this point make sure you have read the small print of all the deals so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself in for. If everyone is good to go, the next step is to decipher how you plan to split the bills between you.
Split the Responsibility
When it comes to splitting your bills, there are three main ways to go about it.
First of all, you can either assign each bill to a housemate, so one person is responsible for paying the gas, one person is responsible for electricity, etc. After this has been delegated, simply calculate who owes who money on a monthly basis. While this is the most reasonable way of paying the bills, it can get confusing when each tenant is owed money at the end of the month.
Another method is to simply assign one trusted and responsible housemate to pay each bill themselves. While this may be a bit of an obligation for said person, it eases complication as every housemate simply pays the same person every month. To make it even easier, set up a standing order to pay the chosen housemate so they don’t have to regularly nag.
If the assigned folk are understandably not happy forking out from their student account, another solution is to set up a joint bank account which everyone contributes to in bulk. This way when the bills are due it can come immediately from that one place through a standing order. However, this method is only recommended if you know and trust your housemates well enough.
If you want a smooth running happy household, it’s essential to not forget to pay the person each month. While it’s never nice owing someone money, it’s worse to be on the receiving end and having to constantly remind someone to pay up. To avoid any financial tension, set a monthly reminder on your phone and always ensure to budget for it.
If you still don’t trust yourself to remember, there are some bill splitting apps. For example, Splittable is a nifty way of tracking payments and setting due dates, which will help you avoid giving or receiving the passive aggressive post-it note. If you’d consider your housemates somewhat technophobic, try putting a whiteboard in the kitchen and creating some kind of monthly chart so everyone can see who they owe money to.
Finally, it goes without saying, but try to keep the bills as low as possible for everyone living with you. For example, if you’re paying for water by the meter, don’t be that person who has 30 minute showers. No student is going to be happy wasting valuable vodka money on your lengthy grooming routine.
We hope this helps you maintain a happy student household! How do you split your bills? Let us know in the comments!