No-one likes chasing other folk up for money they owe – especially when these individuals happen to be your housemates. It’s embarrassing for both sides and can lead to resentments and fall-outs.
For many shared households though, that just happens to be the reality. But it doesn’t have to be. Not, that is, if you take a look at some of the apps and special online services you can sign up to these days that will make dividing and paying bills easier.
We shed some light on managing shared bills with housemates.
How to manage bills easily
Due to the difficulties many housemates face when managing bills, there are now many systems in place to make this process easier.
Apps and online programmes
Split the Bills is an online service which doesn’t just divide the monthly bills between householders, but evens them out throughout the year so that you don’t end up paying more for heating over the winter months.
The service also finds the utility, broadband etc suppliers for you, this saves one of you having to spend ages ringing round for the best cost providers. Cost for the service is £1.50 per week per tenant plus an initial £14.99 set-up fee.
Huddle sets up utilities and combines household bills into one monthly payment for each house mate. Registered users can access their online account 24/7 where they can track real time energy usage. Payment plans are available on their website and are broken down by 12 regional locations.
Glide is a UK-based utility provider which brings together a household’s broadband, gas, electricity, water and TV rental bills into the one monthly online payment.
Splitwise allows you to keep a running total of what flatmates owe you (and vice versa). It allows you to cancel out payments with each other or ask the other to settle up via Paypal.
Of course, not everyone wants to use an app or online programme to pay their bills (some do charge for their services, after all) and if this is you – or one of your flatmates – there are still plenty of other ways to make sharing the bills easier in your household.
You could, for instance, make everyone responsible for collecting money for, then paying, one particular bill. That way no one person ends up doing all the bill management.
Another way to manage shared bills is to open up a joint account which all housemates pay a standing order into every month.
However, it’s worth noting that setting up a joint account does entail quite a bit of organising initially though as everyone named on the account will be required to be present at the bank with the relevant ID to open the account.
Another drawback of a joint account is that there usually has to be a ‘lead’ account holder. If it’s you, you’ll be responsible for bills not being paid, if money goes missing or if the account gets over-drawn.
Being the ‘lead’ account holder means you can withdraw money without the signature of the others. That’s why it’s a good idea to try and find an account where everyone has to authorise payments.
Staying on top of shared bills
It’s important to manage shared bills efficiently.
A joint account could affect your future credit score. Financial association with other account holders who may have a poor credit history could inadvertently affect you.
If the account goes into debt then all the account holders will be held responsible, meaning everyone’s future credit rating will be affected – this will apply even if it’s just one individual that continually fails to pay in.
If a housemate gets behind with all the bills, you can always freeze the account by cancelling the mandate. You can then sit down and work out what to do next.
Keeping your bills down
There’s a reason why online and TV adverts, as well as consumer experts, continually urge you to switch utility suppliers. This is because doing so really can save you quite a bit of money - especially if you’re in a large shared household where there’s a lot of usage.
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