Paying your own way

We all know that moving out and living independently means taking responsibility for the costs of everyday living, but what exactly are those costs? We take a look at how much it costs to pay your own way.

Yearly cost of living

Living expense Yearly average household cost
Accommodation £7,790
Food £2,772
Gas £525
Electricity £577
Water £385
Running a car £1,680
Phone and broadband £816
Total £14,545

(Source: Office for National Statistics, 2017)

Don’t panic: The figures above represent average yearly household figures.

For most young people moving into their first place, these costs will be far less.


We all need a safe and secure place to live.

How much that costs depends on many things, such as:

  • The type of housing,
  • Where in the country it is,
  • Whether you’re sharing the cost, and
  • Whether you’re renting or paying a mortgage

In places where many people want to live, such as big cities, the cost of accommodation can be far higher than just a few miles further away.

For your first home you might want to consider sharing with others to try and spread the costs.


It’s all too easy to buy the food you need when you need it, often every day.

Although it might seem more expensive at the time, it often works out cheaper to do a weekly shop.

This way you can set yourself a weekly budget and stick to it.

While all the major supermarkets have offers and discounts, make sure you actually need the things you buy before you end up spending more than you need, or wasting food.

You could also try buying supermarket own-brand or basic ranges, which can be far cheaper than branded products.


Utilities are made up of gas, electric and water.

The cost of your water services doesn’t change much from one company to the next, but gas and electricity prices do, so make sure you shop around for the best deals.

Each gas and electricity company offers a range of tariffs, just like with mobile phones, so spend some time making sure you’re on the best tariff for you.

Switching supplier is easy and can help you make some big savings.

Running a car

This can be far more than you expect after taking petrol, insurance, and repair bills into account.

TV Licence

This costs £150.50 for a year if you buy it before 1 April 2019.

The fee now goes up each year according to inflation, with the new price coming into effect on 1 April each year.

You can pay for it yearly, but if you choose to pay quarterly, it will cost an additional £5.

If you pay weekly or monthly, you pay for the first year’s licence in six months.

You’d then continue paying for your next licence over 12 months, so you’d be six months ahead.

You need to be covered by a TV licence to:

  • watch or record live TV programmes on any channel
  • download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer.

This could be on any device, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder.

You could face prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000 if you’re caught watching without a licence.

For more information on the ways to pay, go to TV Licensingopens in new window.

TV Licence Simple Payment Plan trial

From 1 April 2018 there is a new Simple Payment Plan trial.

Under the plan, you’ll be able to pay for a TV Licence in 12 equal monthly or 26 fortnightly payments. Unlike the standard payment system, under the trial you won’t have to pay for the first licence in six months.

The closing date for applications is 30 September 2018.

The Simple Payment Plan also allows some flexibility. If you miss a payment, it can be spread across the remaining payments. If three payments in a row are missed though, the plan will be cancelled.

You can pay at a PayPoint, online, over the phone, via Paythru, using Direct Debit or with a Continuous Payment Authority (CPA).

To be eligible for the trial, you’ll need to:

• be referred via certain debt advice charities, including Advice NI, Citizens Advice England Citizens Advice Cymru, Citizens Advice Northern Ireland, Citizens Advice Scotland, Money Advice Trust/National Debtline, Stepchange, Christians Against Poverty.

• previously held a licence which was cancelled within the last six months because of missed payments

• have been interviewed under caution for TV licence fee evasion and so may face prosecution.

Help with living costs

If you’re struggling to pay for your everyday living costs, you might be entitled to certain benefits.

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