“Financially stressful” doesn’t even begin to capture what most of our 2020 was like. Over 50 million Americans filed for unemployment since March of 2020, and we’d rather not get into the condition of unemployment in the States currently.
According to UCDavis, three major changes were witnessed among college students once the pandemic hit.
Over 70 percent of current students lost some, or all of their sources of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Almost half of all students had their living arrangements disrupted in spring 2020.
A quarter of students dropped one or more courses during the academic terms when COVID-19 hit.
But if we’re being realistic, it’s not just college students that participate in coliving. People from across the ages have turned to coliving to save on their bills.
And when it comes to cutting corners, the easiest place to start is your groceries. This doesn’t just help you inculcate habits of spending less but also helps you save more money.
That being said, people’s reasons for wanting to split bills can run beyond wanting to save money. Ever so often, conflicts arise and bills are some of the toughest topics to argue over.
Even when roommate conflicts are pretty much inevitable, eliminating them is our favorite thing to do. Setting systems that reduce conflicts is the best thing you can do when managing monthly expenses with roommates.
Here are some things that you can do if you’re looking to split your bills wisely, budget better, or set boundaries.
Communicate your need to budget better.
Communication needs to be the central aspect of any relationship. And talking about money is also an important aspect of your relationship with your roommates. It may seem like an uncomfortable topic at first, but getting it on the table is required for a healthy relationship.
Have a house-meeting with your roommates and talk about your household expenses. This is one of the first steps in creating a better budget.
List out all your expenses.
Go through all the expenses you will be collectively enduring and write it down in the form of a document. This will also come in handy if you’re faced with confessions later on.
Fix your household costs.
This is how you will be creating a better budget. You can take this opportunity to make notes, and divide who pays for what. Or who pays how much for every item.
Discuss your rent.
Is there a difference in the sizes of your rooms, or the way space is divided in your apartment? Here’s where you adjust your budgets accordingly.
Some people like to divide the costs equally, no matter the difference in housing. Others prefer dividing it based on who uses what. We don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to do this, but a transparent discussion will ensure everyone is comfortable.
Your ultimate goal should be to create a monthly budget for your household that is inclusive of most of everyone’s needs. Yep, most of everyone’s needs, because all would be too idealistic. Unless of course you’re able to accomplish that. In which case, hurray! You’re already budgeting better than most of us!
List your respective budgets.
If you’re splitting groceries, you must communicate each person’s bills accordingly. A vegan roommate would probably be uncomfortable paying for their roommate’s meat consumption.
Additionally, some people might have their monthly expenses for groceries capped at $100, while others might not be comfortable shelling out more than $40 dollars.
Talking about how you will be dividing groceries is an important aspect of budgeting better.
Create a system that suits all your roommates’ budgets.
There’s technological support for everything today. Based on the way we’ve tried and tested, two methods stand out the best.
Create a spreadsheet to help you budget better.
If you’re a bunch of people that anticipate changes in your living, this is the way to go. Creating spreadsheets is a flexible way of budgeting groceries better. A spreadsheet is completely customisable and can be tailored based on your exact needs.
This needs to be a team effort, and will require patience. Especially when you are importing Excel formulas to automate your monthly expenses.
Use a budgeting app.
This is the best way out for roommates who do not appreciate sitting down together every month to do the math. Automating calculations is also an easy way to save time. There are several apps available today that can help you budget better. Some of our top recommendations include:
- SplitWise — super easy interface, one of the best options in the market currently.
- Spendee — Syncs with online banking options and allows for easy finance management for families or groups living together.
- Billr Me — Great app for people spending on an outing. The app will also add in taxes and tips. A copy of the split bill can be sent to the rest of the group members.
Out and about shopping for groceries with your roommates? Here are 8 Secrets To Spending Less While Grocery Shopping!
Discuss payment schedules
The last straw in creating a better budget for you and your roommates is to discuss when all payments will be made. You will have to take into consideration the date mentioned on your lease for rent payment. As well as the date everybody gets paid from work.
Finding a middle ground between the two is the sweet spot you should be aiming for. The whole process in general will also require active inputs from every individual along the way.