9 ways you can pay student bills

Ask not for whom the bills toll (it's you, unfortunately)

In between all the carousing and carryings-on of university life, it can be hard to remember that you’re an adult now, with certain adult responsibilities. Most of those responsibilities are a drag; your mum won’t do your laundry, you have to make your own sandwiches and, suddenly, you have to pay your own bills.

If, like most of us, your parents have happily handled all the nitty-gritty bits of real life you’ve been too engrossed in your schoolwork (ha) to deal with, you’ve probably come to earth with a bit of a bump. Because, wow, you have to pay for everything – even flushing the toilet costs money, after a fashion. There’s gas, electricity, water, Internet, TV licence and phone lines, to name but the most common. And because it’s real money that you owe to real companies, paying your bills isn’t something you can really avoid for too long.

So how do you do it then? And not only that, how do you persuade a house full of reluctant students to part with their own beer money on anything resembling a regular basis?

It’s funny you should ask; here are nine of the most common ways to get it done.

Shared bank account

Take out a brand new joint bank account in everyone’s name, with the idea being that everyone pays in an equal share each month. Direct debits for household bills then come out automatically, and no one sends the bailiffs in.

Trouble is, this system breaks down the minute someone flakes. If even one person stops paying in, or moves out, or even cleans it out, the whole system is in tatters. How much do you trust your flatmates? On top of that, your bills aren’t usually static, so you can’t just pay in a set amount every time and let it take care of yourself. For instance, what if you burn your way through winter, and don’t have enough in the account to settle up?

Each flatmate pays a different bill

Under this system, everyone takes responsibility for paying one bill. Fine in theory, but in practice you’re going to be using much more gas and electricity than you are water or Internet, and that just won’t be fair on someone. This scheme also breaks down in the face of fraud; when you find yourself plunged into darkness because your mate’s spent all the ‘leccy money on daft tobacco, you’ll understand what we mean.

One person becomes the ‘billkeeper’, and collects from the others

This is a very common way to keep on top of the bills, but it requires living with at least one quite bolshie person or it simply won’t work. The billkeeper needs to be mathematical enough to divide payments equally between all housemates, ruthless enough to chase them up for cheques – which isn’t easy when someone isn’t keen on parting with £300+ per term – and organised enough to get them all in the post on time. 

Packaged bills

An interesting concept, whereby companies like Glide package up all the household bills and itemise them per person, allowing people to pay one monthly payment plan. This way, if one particular flake falls behind on their payments, the rest of the house isn’t liable for their mistakes.

Rent inclusive

Of course, you could find a flat that charges your bills automatically alongside the rent, and save yourself the bother of worrying. But not every landlord does that, and many of them might be tempted to use the idea as a way of shaking you all down for a few stealthy extra pennies each month.

Rent and bills through the landlord, who has to chase

Another pretty reasonable, relatively hassle-free solution to the problem, provided you pay up in full and on time every month. The minute you start to slip, you can kiss cordial relations with the landlord goodbye – and once you’ve passed the point of no return, they might start being tempted (more tempted) to find reasons to dip into your damage deposit at the end of the year.

Pre-payment meters

This is exactly like having a pay-as-you phone. You can buy top-up cards or keys at newsagents and post offices, and pop them into a special meter at home. This allows your household to monitor expenditure very efficiently, but you run the risk of running out at inopportune moments. If the electricity runs out in a rainstorm and the nearest newsagent is closed, you are going to have a bad time. What’s more, knowing exactly how much each top-up is costing you is a quick way to getting over-stingy with utilities; it’s when you start saying no to a cup of tea because you don’t want to waste power on boiling the water that you know you’re in too deep.


In this system, residents take their bills to their nearest PayPoint, found in most newsagents, so they can pay their bill in cash. Something of a brute-force way of paying up, but it gets the job done. Look for the logo, which is usually stuck to the window of participating shops.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Guru Careers: Graduate Media Assistant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power