Whether you’re a student at university or you’re a professional with an internship, sharing a house can be pretty daunting. If you’re used to living with your family, you’ll find the first few weeks particularly challenging, getting to know your new roommates, deciding who cleans what and how much you owe in gas and electricity. Once you’ve settled in and you’ve made some new friends, follow these top tips on saving money when living in a house share…
Rather than everyone preparing their own meals on an evening, cook for the whole house at least once or twice per week. That way, you can pool your resources and save money on your food. For example, a whole chicken, some vegetables and a bag of potatoes can be picked up for £5.00 and feed six people - much cheaper than each of you ordering a KFC!
If at least one member of your household is a student, you’re eligible for free or reduced-cost council tax. Look into the rules and speak to your local authority as soon as possible. You might even be eligible for a refund if you’ve been overpaying your council tax for months.
As many as 500 households a day are cancelling their TV licence in favour of content from providers like Netflix and Amazon Prime. If you’re not using your devices to watch live TV or content from BBC iPlayer, you don’t need one. If you’re a fan of shows like Britain’s Got Talent and Strictly Come Dancing, check whether you’re covered by your parent’s licence.
If you’re buying your groceries in bulk, consider sharing loyalty cards from stores like Tesco and Iceland to build up your points. Then, when you’re ready to redeem a reward, the entire household can benefit. For example, you might save your Clubcard vouchers and use them to buy a bottle of wine or a chocolate cake to treat yourself without spending much money.
Do a “subscription audit” to work out who’s paying for what. Spotify Family memberships mean up to six members of the same household can listen to music through their own accounts, and Netlflix offers plans that allow for playback on more than one device. You can then split the cost between those involved, making your monthly plans much cheaper.
Setting aside a strict budget for a weekly household food shop is another good way to save money. Everyone puts in £20 and you get enough food for five lunches, five breakfasts, and five dinners. Then, everyone has money left over for takeaways and nights out with friends.
Do you really need to choose an expensive brand when own-brand products would do? If you’re serious about saving money, experiment with cheaper products and see whether they make a difference. For basics like bread, pasta, and vegetables, you’re unlikely to notice.
Rather than spending £5 on a meal deal every lunchtime, make packed lunches for your household. Two loaves of bread, two packets of chicken and a multipack of crisps will cost you around £6 - much cheaper than spending £5 each day (that’s up to £125 per week if five of you chip in). Small switches like this can make a huge difference to your monthly finances.
Your fridge and freezer are your friends. Buy reduced-price food in the supermarket and freeze it if you’re not planning on eating it on the same day. Store as much of your food in the fridge as possible to extend its life, and add it to your rota that someone checks dates on food every day or two. That way, you’re less likely to forget about something and let it go off.
An increasing number of students and young professionals are turning to student bills packages from providers like Billing Better to manage their household bills. It makes it easier to group together all your household utilities - like gas, electricity, and broadband - and pay only your share in one monthly payment. The best part? We offer Amazon Prime for free!
Rather than taking two cars to work or university, go together and share the cost of fuel. Or better yet, choose a more environmentally-friendly option and get the bus together or walk.
Another way shared households waste money is heating. You can overcome this by deciding on an optimal household temperature for different times of the year. If one person is always cold and another hot, find a middle ground or consider buying hoodies and desk fans!
For a standard shower head, every minute wasted equates to 2.5 gallons of water. Make it a house policy that everyone has short showers to avoid water waste and lower your bill. You could even invest in an environmentally-friendly shower head that cuts water consumption whilst increasing flow and spray force. They can be picked up online from as little as £10.
If you’re suffering from draughts or your boiler is playing up, speak to your landlord about what they can do to help. It might be that you need cavity wall insulation, a boiler service, or your front door fixing to keep out the chill. It’s their responsibility to ensure that your home is safe and comfortable; don’t feel bad about pestering them. After all, you pay their mortgage!
Finally, consider switching energy providers to cut costs. Most students and first-time tenants will stick with the provider offered by their letting agent, but this won’t be the cheapest provider or tariff, as agents take a commission for their referral. Use a price comparison website or depend on a bills management service like Billing Better to do it on your behalf.
Do you have any other tips for saving money in a shared house? Let us know on Facebook and be sure to check back soon for more financial advice on the Billing Better blog.