Student Homes: A Saver’s Guide to Keeping the Peace on a Budget

Friends, right? You can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them. Until you live with them. Then all kinds of crazy clichés get maimed amidst a horrible storm of uncertainty. Sharing a house when you struggle with your own finances – like most students – can be a terrifying prospect, but ultimately, if you’re planning on, or are already living with friends, there are few things that you might need to know. You know, if you want to stay sane and everything.

On the Subject of Bills

Bills are one of the big monetary monsters than crawl through your front door in the form of an invoice at the end of the month, and are, unfortunately, often the main reason household fallouts ensue. One person may have racked up some deplorable numbers on the electricity bill but will still end up paying the same as everyone else if you fall into the trap of splitting bills, which, frankly, sucks. Hell hath no fury like a student scorned. For those of you about to embark on finding a house for future accommodation, I suggest opting for an inclusive deal. Many estate agents will offer a contract for a home with an annual limitation on all your bills, which means you don’t have to worry about what’s in your bank account at the end of each month.

Of course, there is a drawback. If you exceed your bill limit, the agency will be entitled to charge extra when your contract expires, meaning that you can inadvertently build up some jaw-dropping numbers. Fret not, though, because these houses usually include a meter that you can keep a close eye on, counting down the weekly or monthly allowance that you have for energy. If you are wise enough, this is the better option.

Moreover, students will often not get a house phone whilst away at university, therefore it is a good idea to get a good contract on a mobile phone. Go to uSwitch.com to take a look at the cheapest deals at the mobile phone comparison.

Going Green

Whether or not your bills are inclusive to the contract, you’ll still need to scrutinise the amount of energy you use as a household. Firstly, it is good to be in the know about what will cost you the most in the long run. The most expensive energy to use is heating, so decide as a group a specific time when you want to start using the heating properly. You may have the option to pay extra in the warmer months to give you a larger energy allowance in the winter, so check to see whether this is an option for your home. If it is, it is definitely worth the investment. My household have agreed to abstain from heating until the dark depths of November, when it will be necessary for basic human survival. Until then, a woolly jumper instead will suit me just fine.

Come Dine with Me

It can be easy to cram your basket with individual portions of things that only you like when shopping for the week’s nourishment, but there is a better – and more social – way. Sit down and discuss with your housemates a plan to cook meals for one another. It uses less energy, there is less washing up, and you might just get food made with a bit of effort.

You may encounter some problems such as a) one or two housemates are absent often and unpredictably so, and b) some of you just can’t cook. Keep looking – there is always a way. Even if you offer to buy dinner as long as someone else cooks it for you, you’ll be saving that little bit extra that could go a long way.

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