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Chapter 4: Household Bills

If you are not living on campus, you probably have some household bills to pay. Even if you are living on campus now, you will have these kinds of bills to pay in the future. These can include:

  • Rent. If the rent is due by the first, don’t pay on the fifth or some other late date. Also, don’t ignore the rules. If your lease says no pets, don’t get a pet. If you do not pay your rent on time or break a rule, you could be evicted. Think ahead. It is highly unlikely that you will remain in the first place you get forever, so being a good tenant today can help you rent another place in the future. Most landlords call the former landlords of potential applicants, and you probably do not want yours to say that you were a bad tenant.

  • Insurance. Having renters insurance is not required, but it is recommended. Think your landlord’s homeowners insurance covers your personal property if your apartment burns down? It doesn’t. Renters insurance covers your personal property and also your liability, such as if someone hurt him or herself in your apartment and sued you. Renters insurance is fairly cheap, usually costing no more than a few hundred dollars a year.

  • Utilities. Utilities can include cable, Internet, telephone, garbage, gas, electric, and water. For utilities that charge based on usage, practicing conservation is a way to keep your bills from being sky-high. It is extremely important to pay your utility bills on time. If you don’t, you may be charged late payment fees, and if left unpaid, they will probably land in a collection agency. Dealing with collectors can be unpleasant, and the negative effect on your credit report is severe. Furthermore, your utilities could be shut off, and you may not be able to turn them on again until they are paid (and even then it can be difficult).

Sharing a place with roommates can make bill-paying more complicated. Establish how the bills will be paid from the beginning. You may be able to split some of the bills and each send a check for your portion of the amount due. Another option is for one of you to act as money manager and collect from the others. However you arrange it, if an account is in your name, know that you are responsible for making sure the bill is paid on time.

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