Boring though it may be you will need to get to grips with your finances once you are living away from home if you haven’t already.

Each month you will need to plan what you need to pay, how much is coming in from jobs or parents! Then what you have left can be spent on going out etc. Now with our houses most of your bills are included so your rent also covers your gas and electricity, broadband and TV, TV license and water rates. Most students are exempt from paying council tax but as the whole household is liable for paying council tax if appropriate it is best to double check this. If you are exempt from paying council tax you will need to contact Birmingham City Council to inform them and provide them with proof that all householders are full time students. Another cost is insurance which you may wish to consider for possessions like phones and laptops as this is not covered by the landlords insurance. You may be able to add this onto your parents’ insurance or check out the internet for recommended insurers for students.

The other big cost will be your food shop. It is easy to waste money by shopping every day for bits and bobs, so to save on costs and food waste try to plan your meals ahead. It is worth discussing with your housemates whether you want to have shared house food like coffee, pasta and other basics and if you want to take it in turns to cook for each other, or keep things totally separate. Always come up with a shopping list and try to stick to it or you’ll lots of added extras in your basket! Also (and I can vouch for this) never shop when you’re hungry or you will be tempted to buy treats that are definitely not on your list.

Once you have seen how much you are spending then you have a better idea of how much you have left over after you have paid for the essentials. It may be that you also have essential travel costs, a bus card, train card or even car expenses. After all those outgoings then the money that is left is then safely available for going out, clothes, takeaways etc.

Another chunk of money that you may not think about is your deposit. You can help to make sure you get as much of this back as possible by looking after the house you are renting. Always let the landlord know if something has broken or is not working. You will not be charged if it is normal wear and tear or if the equipment is faulty. The biggest reason people do not much of their deposit returned is due to the cleanliness and care, particularly in bathrooms and kitchens. No one like doing housework but if you keep putting it off it can make the job so much harder. For example shower rooms are by their very nature damp places which makes mould more likely. If this is cleaned regularly there is no problem but if it is left it spreads an unpleasant black stain and the only option when it is this bad is to remove grout and silicon and replace them which obviously incurs a cost. Likewise hobs, ovens and extraction are going to become dirty and greasy. If you wipe after each use or once a day it’s no problem but if you leave it, every time you cook the heat will cook and burn grease and spills onto the appliance.

Cleaning hacks

These are things to look out for and to try to keep on top of –

  1. Bins

Don’t leave these to overflow in your home or on the street. They attract unwanted critters and rats are already a big problem in Selly Oak, attracted by the many food outlets throwing away food. Use bin liners to keep bins clean and lids firmly shut. Check which day your bin is collected and make sure it is accessible for the collectors. There are also some recycling points around Selly Oak if you have too much for your bin. The council will not collect overflowing bins or bins that have the wrong content.  If you do have a problem though you can go onto Birmingham City Council website for help.

  1. Do it now!

If you make a mess, spill something or have just used every pot and pan cooking, don’t just leave it. The sooner you clean up the easier it is. Catch food before it dries or gets cooked on again. Spills on the floor, furniture or clothes are more likely to stain and cause more damage the longer they are left.

  1. Share!!

Obviously for communal areas especially the kitchen you are all responsible. If you take it ion turns to clean up then you are only cleaning a couple of times a week each as opposed to every day. Unfortunately your ensuite is yours so you probably won’t be able to talk anyone into helping out with that! If you sweep or hoover the communal area by your room when you do your room, it’s not much more effort and makes things easier for everyone.

  1. Be prepared

Make sure you have the essentials like clothes, spray cleaner etc. if is there are easily accessible then you are more likely to use it.

  1. Kitchens
  1. Keep surfaces clear. If you all keep your food and pots etc. in your area then it is much easier to wipe down the surface that is not cluttered. It takes so much longer to wipe around and have to move objects.
  2. Don’t let dishes pile up – load the dishwasher until you have a full load. Put things when it’s finished so you can start reloading again.
  3. Check the fridge regularly – throw out old and rotten food as this will make cleaning fridge more a challenge. A regular wipe down will reduce potential problems.
  4. Oven, hob and microwave really only need a quick wipe down when you spill something and a decent clean once a month. If you can catch the grease before it accumulates and burns onto the appliance it make life much easier.
  5. Don’t forget the washing machine. Don’t leave damp clothes lying in there as it creates mould which is damaging to your clothes and the machine, not to mention the horrible musty smell. Once a month have a wipe around the door and rubber seal to remove any mould and particles.
  1. Ensuites
  1. It’s tempting to have every shampoo and conditioner out on display but the mow clutter you have the more cleaning you have to do. Keep it clear than a simple wipe may suffice.
  2. The extractor will get rid a lot of the excess moisture but not all so you will need to regularly wipe down sinks and showers to make sure it doesn’t go mouldy. The longer u=you leave it the harder it will be to clean.
  3. Give your toilet a regular clean – bleach will keep it spotless and kill off germs. Some people prefer to add a block that cleans as it flushes. Up to you!

Finally you don’t have to spend a fortune on named brand cleaning products, you can get everything you need from Aldi. The important thing to remember is little and often. Happy cleaning!!