Paying your own way

Money Advice Service

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 £7,930
Food £2,896
Gas £510
Electricity £593
Water £390
Running a car £1,726
Phone and broadband £900
Total £14,945

(Source: Office for National Statistics, 2018)

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
  • 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.

You can work out How much you can afford, and find out whether you Should rent or buy, on our website


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.

Find out more about saving money on food on our How to cut the cost of your supermarket shopping and Cutting the cost of cooking pages


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.

Find out more about saving money on your utilities on our How you can save money on your energy bills and Saving money on your water bill pages

Running a car

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

TV Licence

This costs £154.50 for a year if you buy it before 1 April 2020. A black and white licence will cost £52.

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 Licensing.

TV Licence Simple Payment Plan trial

From 1 April 2018 there was 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.

The closing date for applications was the 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.

If you’re on the plan you can find out more information on the TV licensing website.

Mobile and broadband

Just like with utility bills, switching broadband provider or changing your mobile phone contract can save you significant chunks of money.

So, when you’re getting a new contract, or your old ones comes to an end, make sure you’re comparing the deals you can get to save money.

Find out more on our Save money on your mobile phone and pages.

Unexpected bills

Car repairs, vet bills, emergency home repairs – these kind of costs can affect anyone at any time, so it’s never too soon to get prepared for them.

The best thing to do is to regularly put aside some money to start to build up an emergency savings fund.

You can also take steps to trying to prevent items breaking, or buy insurance that covers you if things go wrong.

Talking about money

Not talking about money can cause problems because almost everything in our lives is affected by our finances in some way or another.

Use our guides to break down those barriers and talk to your friends, partner, older relatives and children about money.

Find out more in our Talking about money section.

Help with living costs

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

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

Links with an * by them are affiliate links which help Rest Less stay free to use as they can result in a payment or benefit to us. You can read more on how we make money here.

Save on your utility bills today

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