There are many benefits of having roommates. Cohabitating gives you the ability to rent a larger space (or a space at all), share cleaning responsibilities, and make friends in a new area. On the other hand, sharing a space with a roommate is not always easy and can cause some issues, especially when it comes to money. So, we have compiled some tips that can help cut down on financial stress between roommates.
1. Choose Your Roommates Wisely
While finding a roommate in a time crunch might be stressful, don’t take the first offer unless you’ve carefully considered the candidate. Begin your roommate-searching process with finances in mind—and determine if the candidate has proven to be financially responsible enough to cover their share of rent on time, every time. You’ll also want to choose someone who is open to having conversations about money, so you never feel uncomfortable when it comes time to collect money.
2. Establish Guidelines From the Start
It’s easier to get on the same page at the very beginning rather than to remedy issues as they arise. So, make sure you discuss how you’d like to split each bill in a way that is most fair for everyone. Establish how you are going to collect that bill and make it a routine method.
3. Keep Track of Expenses
Set up a budget spreadsheet where you organize each month’s utility costs and keep track of who has contributed their share—this is especially important for living situations with multiple roommates. You can share this document with your roommates at the time of payment. When you provide this document each month, there will be less disputes of costs as well. Transparency makes everyone happier.
4. You Don’t Have to Split Everything
When you live alone for the first time, you have to get used to covering expenses that you never had to worry about before. For example, you now need to buy your own groceries, but keep in mind you don’t have to share those bills. Many roommates choose not to share groceries. Furniture is also a cost to keep in mind. If you need to furnish a common room, you can decide who buys certain items and who will keep each item after you move out.
5. Wait to Pay Bills Until Everyone Has Contributed Their Share
Don’t take the fall for your roommates because they might expect you to cover their expenses in the future as well. Be direct about who owes you what. It’s everyone’s communal responsibility, not just yours.
6. Use Apps to Help
Believe it or not, there are apps specifically designed to help roommates split the costs of living expenses. They can give real time updates and send reminders. Also, in this day in age where checks and cash are becoming a thing of the past, there are apps that can send money directly from your checking account. There are even apps that can keep track of household tasks and chores that need to be done. Lastly, keep a shared calendar where you can keep track of each roommates’ schedule and vacations.
From finding a reliable roommate to ensuring everyone covers their fair share, following these tips will help you reduce financial stress when sharing living expenses. These tip are helpful, but always remember if things aren’t working or your finances are strained you can try to find a new living situation.