For better or for worse, living with a roommate means sharing your life with them. Depending on your specific living situation, that could mean sharing your living room, the kitchen, the hallways and maybe even your bathroom and bedroom. But to make up for it, you’ll also get to share some laughs, some snacks and a whole lot of memories. However, there is one thing about living with a roommate that falls strictly in the “worse” category- managing expenses. Even the phrase “manage expenses” can send shivers down your spine!
No matter how comfortable you are with your roommates, talking about money is always a little weird. It’s one of those strange, almost taboo topics, that can instantly make any conversation awkward. But even so, it’s an extremely important conversation to have if you want to have a smooth-sailing relationship with them. So without any further ado, here’s a list of things you should keep in mind when it comes to sharing expenses with your roomis.
Manage Expenses by making a plan
The whole process of moving is so overwhelming that managing expenses is the last thing you want to do. The word “finance” alone is enough to induce anxiety. But believe us, this is an extremely important thing you and your roommates need to agree on before you do anything else.
Start with discussing which one of your expenses you will be sharing and which you want to pay individually. For example, you will have to split your rent but maybe you want to pay for your groceries on your own. Maybe you want to split your internet bill, but want to pay for your own streaming services. The combinations are endless and you will have to decide early on what works for your household.
Pro tip: To manage expenses better get separate electricity meters for your bedrooms. This way you only have to pay for the electricity that you use. The electricity costs of common areas can be split evenly.
Bills, bills, bills
Oh, the bane of everyone’s lives- the never-ending bills. You’ve got electricity bills, you’ve got water bills, you’ve got maintenance charges, you’ve got internet bills – the list goes on and on. It’s very important to decide how you’re going to be paying these bills before you even move in together. Since most of these bills will be shared expenses, these will be the ones that will cause the most trouble. Decide on a date by which everyone has to pay their share of the bills every month, and then make sure everyone does it. It’s okay if once in a while someone falls behind; it can happen to anyone. But if someone is habitually late paying up their share then that’s a major red flag – it might be time for a house meeting.
Also, make sure everyone knows how these bills are paid and have a rotational schedule on who will be responsible for collecting and paying the money. Otherwise, the responsibility will fall on the one person which can be very annoying.
Manage expenses separately
While it’s inevitable that you will have to share a lot of your bills, remember to keep your expenses separate wherever possible. Don’t make any big purchases together; it will only make it harder to decide how to split it fairly when one of you is moving out. For example, buying furniture together is a big no-no. Whatever furniture you want to buy, buy on your own and that way you don’t have to worry about splitting it later on. You should even consider buying things like utensils separately. Make note of what belongs to you and take it with you whenever you move out.
Roomi tip – Since most roomis find it easier to buy their groceries separately, divide up your kitchen cabinets between you and your roommate. This will make sure your groceries remain separate and you don’t accidentally eat someone else’s food.
Keep track of payments
Even the best plans can go wrong, because life always finds a way to get in the way. There will inevitably come a time when you will have to cover for your roommate and vice versa. There will be unexpected purchases, expenses and the occasional cash-borrowing. The important thing is to pay them back. And the only foolproof way of managing expenses is keeping track of them.
There are a number of great apps that can help you keep track of these payments and make your lives 1000 times easier. And if you’re slightly old-fashioned, then the good ol’ pen-and-paper duo never let anyone down. So do yourselves a favor and put it to use!
D’you know what else Roomi does outside of helping its readers manage expenses with their roommates? With our ever-increasing lists of rooms and roommates across the world, we help you find your perfect match! Download the app here and hop on the easiest ride home, ever!