Save money on student bills
These 10 tips reveal how to save HUNDREDS on household bills every year, and are crucial reading to make your Maintenance Loan last longer.
1. Shop around
Shopping around is the top way to pay less for household bills, as it locks in savings from day 1. But to make it pay, you’ve got to do it regularly. Use a bill comparison tool once a month and, if you’re not on the cheapest deal, switch supplier (remember to include exit fees when comparing prices). Doing this for all bills – mobile phone and film streaming, too – can save £100s every year.
2. Earn cash back
Many utility deals include a cash bonus for switching to them (another reason to shop around regularly). The other option is to get a bank account or credit card that gives cashback. Always use this to pay bills and you could grow a decent pile of cash in a year. This only works if you’re disciplined with your spending, though, so work on that before chasing rewards.
3. NEVER pay late
Paying late is like volunteering to spend more than everyone else. Some bill providers charge for the inconvenience, or pass details to your credit file (which could affect how you pay for bills in future, not to mention getting loans or a mortgage). Pop payment dates in a calendar and keep an eye on them.
4. Get everyone to chip in
If housemates don’t pay up (or on time), you may have to cover their share. Get a system that works for you: give everyone a bill to deal with, set up a shared savings pot, or go through finances together once a month.
Phone & broadband
5. Avoid paying twice
Don’t forget to consider your mobile allowance when sizing up broadband. Unlimited data plus tethering (using your mobile as a wifi hub to share data with other devices) may be all you need to get and stay online. Alternatively, some home phone packages throw in mobile allowances – see which works out cheaper for you.
6. Claim unused data
Sim-only offers are now so good that paying £30+ a month for a contract phone feels like an embarrassing rip-off. Look out for rollovers, where you can carry unused calls, texts and data to the next month. Smarty.co.uk goes one further – they refund anything you don’t spend
Gas & Electricity
7. Think like your grandparents
The ‘old ways’ are brilliant for pruning the size of your bills. Dry laundry for free on an outdoors line. Put on a jumper before turning on the heating. Turn the thermostat down and switch off unnecessary radiators. Close doors and always make sure lights are off. Stop draughts under the door and around windows with a pair of tights stuffed with newspaper (really!). Never leave gadgets on standby. Once you make them a habit, they don’t even feel like an effort.
8. Claim water-saving freebies
We should all try to save water, but it’s crucial if you’re on a water meter as you’ll pay for every drop you use. Economy shower heads, flush-reducing bags and timers all help – and they’re free from www.savewatersavemoney.co.uk. Couple this with common sense, like not leaving taps running while you brush teeth, to cut back on waste.
9. Check if you’ve been charged council tax
Full-time students don’t pay council tax, so check if your landlord has charged for it or if you’ve accidentally paid in the past. If you share with non f/t students and the household is charged, you technically don’t even have to contribute. If the household only has one other adult besides you, they can still claim a single resident’s discount on council tax.
10. Lose the TV licence
You’ll need a TV licence if you watch or record live TV, or watch BBC iPlayer. Some student accommodation takes care of this for you, but check. If your parents have a licence, it could cover you for viewing on a mobile device (not when plugged in) in your term-time residence. If you only ever watch catch-up (not BBC), pay-on-demand or streaming services, going without regular telly will save £154/year
You may not be able to control the price of gas and electricity, but there are loads of simple ways to pay less – there’s no excuse not to try at least some of them. Stand-up for your consumer rights, too. If the broadband conks out, or you’re left without power or water, contact the provider pronto. Keep detailed notes and, if it’s appropriate, ask how they’re going to make it right or reimburse you.
Guest blog by Ruth Bushi, an editor at Save the Student – the UK’s largest student money advice site.