Living out on your own can seem scary at first.
New bills, costs and responsibilities – it may sometimes feel a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Knowing how to budget and understanding how your bills work together with a few tips and tricks, can flip everything round.
A personal budget is key to knowing your true financial situation.
You take all your income (the money you have coming in) and outgoings (all the money you spend) and work out how much you have left afterwards. If you have lots of money left over, it’s a good idea to think about saving it. Mark it down in your budget and watch how it grows.
If you have a negative amount (your outgoings are higher than your income), ask yourself:
- Where can I save money – what outgoings can I cut?
- What can I do to increase my income – am I entitled to any benefits? Could I find a job, a part-time job or make money from a side-hustle?
- How much am I short by? Make a plan of how you are going to close the gap – if you need help with this, or if you have debts you’re worried about, you can contact a range of charities for help – check the websites section for more.
When moving into your own home, you will need to take responsibility for all the bills that come with it.
These could be:
- Utilities – Gas / Electric / Water.
- Rent / Service Charge.
- TV Licence.
- Council Tax*.
- Phone / Broadband.
- TV or streaming package.
- Contents insurance.
Care Leavers should check with their council as they might be exempt for council tax. You should also let the council know if you are the only adult (18+) living in the property as you can claim a single person’s discount of 25%. If a household has only full time students living there, there is no council tax due.
When you move in you will need to contact each supplier and let them know you’ve moved in. Most will take your tenancy date as the day you are responsible for your bills, not your move in date (if they are different), so be ready to set these up as soon as your tenancy says they property is yours.
It’s all on you now!
Reading meters is important for gas, electric and (in some properties) water bill setup. It tells the supplier that you have now taken over the supply and ensures you don’t get charged for anything the previous person might have done. Depending on your meter type, you might need to read these in different ways – ask your supplier if you’re unsure.
There are two types of meter – prepay which usually comes with a card and postpay which usually gets paid via a bill or direct debit.
Both have pros and cons:
- Postpay means your supply never gets cut off (unless you miss a bill or two) .Whereas prepay might leave you in the dark if the credit runs out.
- It may be easier to budget with a prepay meter as you pay cash when you want for energy. Think of it as a pay-as-you-go-phone.
- Prepay can be more expensive than postpay. Check with your supplier and use comparison sites to see if you can get a better deal.
Most companies allow you to pay via lots of methods:
- Direct Debit – taken straight out of your bank account every month. The amount can change.
- Taking a paper bill to a post office or your bank to pay with cash.
- Using online banking to transfer money to their account.
- PayPoint – a card given by some companies that you can use in some shops to pay your bills with cash.
- Online via their website using your debit card.
- Over the phone using your debit card.
Whilst staying on top of your bills you also need to think about all the other things you need to pay for: food, travel, toiletries – make sure you include these in any budgeting you do.
Remember to budget your cash carefully to make sure you can pay all the essential bills before you spend on your wants. Possible penalties for not paying your bills include eviction, being cut off from your gas or electric or even prison in the case of not having a TV Licence.
- Quidco: Cashback site where you can earn money back for purchases – or even for setting up your household bills. Go to Quidco’s website first and the shop’s website after.
- Money Saving Expert: Lots of tips, tricks and information to help you save cash and find great deals. Also has a Demotivator, like the activity we did in our workshop.
- Uswitch / Compare the Market / Money Supermarket: Comparison sites which let you check prices for gas/electricity. as well as broadband, TV packages, mobiles and even bank accounts. If you keep switching you keep saving.
- Freecycle: Free stuff from people who don’t want it anymore.
This app will help you keep to a daily limit for spending. You can buy other features if you want but the basic app is free!
Lets you keep track of what you’re spending and where – this can be useful to see where your money is actually going.
Yolt (iOS / Android) Free
View your UK bank accounts and credit cards together, see upcoming debits, create easy budgets, monitor bills and subscriptions and look for better energy deals.
Wonderbill (iOS / Android) Free
Use WonderBill to log in once to all your bills accounts. You’ll then be able to access them with one login and password and see when your bills are due.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any financial education needs you may have.