Congratulations, you’re living the dream. You’re in uni, on your own, sharing a house with some of your best mates. It’s gonna be a blast.
Of course, it’s also going to come with its fair share of expenses. And while finally being on your own means freedom, it also might mean you’re on the hook for your household expenses.
But of course, you’re not really alone there either. You’ll be splitting the bills with your mates. In this article, we’ll cover:
- Types of student house bills
- Ways to split student house bills
- How to approach splitting bills with your housemates?
- Tips on splitting student house bills
Types of student house bills
The different types of student house bills are basically the same as any normal household’s bills:
- TV Licence/Cable
- Cleaning supplies and/or professional cleanings
- Contents insurance
How to discuss splitting bills with housemates?
Some of the student house costs should obviously be split in equal parts. But some of them likely won’t be.
It’s important to come to an agreement on how you’ll split the expenses before, or at least as soon as, you all move in. You don’t want to have any disagreements when bills are due and risk not paying on time.
1. Agree on which bills you are going to split
Each house member is bound to use the internet, so you can split the broadband cost evenly (unless one person happens to be away a lot). The same pretty much goes for gas, electric, water, cleaning supplies, contents insurance, and TV costs — unless there’s no television in a common room, and they’re all in individual rooms.
But there are other costs which might not be divided evenly. Mainly, these are rent, groceries, and toiletries. This is because different housemates might have different-sized bedrooms, eating habits might very widely, and people might rather have their own personal toiletry sets (in which case that might not be shared expense at all).
2. Agree on a split
Once you sort out the parameters above, you’ll come to an agreement on how much each person owes.
The best rule of thumb is that any expenses that more or less benefit everyone equally — like gas and electric — should be split evenly.
Expenses that benefit housemates differently — like rent, due to the different size of bedrooms, or groceries, due to different food tastes — may well be split proportionally.
3. Agree on a payment deadline & method of payment
Once you’ve agreed on all the splits, you should agree on payment deadlines, and methods of payment.
Some deadlines will be obvious, like rent and utilities, because they’ll be out of your hands. Others, like groceries and cleanings, will be up to your mutual discretion.
Tech can be a great help here. For instance, the HyperJar app lets you create and share jars for rent, food, entertainment, and anything else you choose. If each housemate has the app — which is free — you can create jars for all common expenses, and all pay into them transparently, and track your mutual spending. You can also send messages back and forth in the Jars.
The shared Jars are also useful for sharing costs during nights out and on holidays.
4. Keep open communication
Finally, it’s important to frequently communicate with your housemates about the bill-splitting arrangement and how things go every month. This way, there are no surprises, everyone stays on the same page, and bills are paid on time.
Ways to split student house bills
There are many different ways you can actually split your student house bills in practice. Here are some examples:
- Each person is responsible for collecting the money for a specific bill: This ensures that no one person bears all the responsibility — and the labour — of paying every bill.
- One person is responsible for all bills: On the other hand, you may well have a housemate who is super-organized, and would like the responsibility of collecting money for and paying all the bills. If everyone’s okay with that arrangement, it’s win-win.
- Rotate the responsibility for all bills: If there is more than one person who’d like all the responsibility, you can always take turns making sure the bills are paid on time.
- Set up a shared account that everyone pays into: This is a sort of hybrid method. In this case, everyone is responsible for paying into a joint account on their own, and then the only leftover duty would be to use those funds to pay each bill. As we explained above, an app like HyperJar, that lets you set up shared Jars that divide money into different portions, and that everyone can pay into, can be very helpful.
Tips on splitting student house bills
Here are some tips on how to best approach splitting student house bills:
- Create a budget: Before you start splitting bills, it’s important to create a budget. This will help you figure out how much each person can afford, and should, pay.
- Be patient and understanding with your housemates: Different people come from different experiences. it could be some people’s first time managing their own finances.
- Create a separate email for the house that everyone has access to: This will help make sure that no one in the house misses any communications about the bills.
- Have a backup plan in case someone can’t pay their share: Things happen. If, for whatever reason, someone can’t pay their share of the bills one month, you’ll need an alternative way to pay on time.
Have a plan and stick to it
It’ll take a little work at the beginning, but it’s important not to ‘wing it’ when it comes to paying mutual bills month to month. Things can get out of hand in a hurry.
But as long as you agree to a plan from the outset, and engage in open communication as the year moves along, it can be relatively simple for a whole house of people to pay their bills on time. And technology can be of great service.