Dealing with personal finances is a challenge in itself, never mind adding in the complication of roommates. Regardless of how great your relationship is with your roommate, conversations that involve money can become emotionally charged and uncomfortable. Unexpected things will happen... like an unexpected bill, damaged furniture, or broken appliance. So, it is essential to establish how finances with your roommate will be managed beforehand to preserve your relationship. Here you will find some roommate finance management advice.
How to Split Bills
Having to split bills with your roommate can be amicable and straightforward, or it can be somewhat uncomfortable. It depends on if you have reached an understanding and set up rules to deal with the expected and unexpected. To keep good terms between both of you, here are some tips on how to split bills.
- Have an Open and Transparent Conversation About the Expectations
Before you move in together have a conversation about expenses. After all, you will be sharing more expenses than simply the rent and utilities. It is good to have a plan in place. You can start by asking some questions like:
- Are you paid sporadically or on a regular schedule?
- How often are you likely to be home?
- Are you responsible with money?
- What should be considered household expenses?
- Should we set up an emergency fund?
- Create a System to Manage Household Finances
There are various ways of going about dividing bills with your roommate. You could:
- Put one person in charge of collecting the money from everybody else and paying the bills
- Have each person be responsible for paying their portion of each bill
- Contribute a predetermined amount and place it into a Shared Account, then use this money to pay the bills
- Decide On a Monthly Budget for Shared Expenses
Sit down with your roommate and make up a list of all your shared expenses, including:
- Mortgage or rent
- Property taxes
- HOA fees
- Maintenance fees
- Cable/Internet bill
- Electricity bill
- Water bill
- Cleaning supplies
- Streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, etc.
- Shared groceries
- Hygiene products
- Other household expenses (i.e. light bulbs, batteries, etc.)
Dealing with Groceries and Furniture
There will also be individual purchases you will want to consider — like pieces of furniture, the vacuum cleaner, small kitchen appliances, and more. Be sure you come up with an agreement with your roommate on splitting the costs for things like these. You could split the expense or have one roommate buy the item with the deal they get to keep it when you both move out.
You might wish to talk about how you plan on splitting the grocery bill. Do you each contribute to pantry and fridge staples (i.e., eggs, bread, milk, canned goods, etc.) Or will you each be buying groceries and preparing your food separately?
Apps That Help
You can use a roommate bill-splitting app to help avoid financial conflicts. These types of apps make it simple to keep track of and divide expenses fairly.
Some great apps include:
- Venmo. Venmo is a simple, secure, and popular way of paying your roommate back. You add a bank account or debit card to your Venmo account for transferring money between one another at no charge.
- Splitwise. The Splitwise app will tally up your IOUs, allowing you to reimburse your roommate in one big payment rather than a bunch of smaller ones. It will send you email reminders to make it easier for you to keep up with payments. You would simply upload an expense and decide who you are going to share it with.
- OurGroceries. If you share certain foods, ingredients, or other communal items with your roommate, you can use OurGroceries to share lists. This app allows you to make and adjust your grocery lists easily and cross items off you have already bought. You can even create random supplemental lists such as "favorite wines."
- Splittr. This is a simple-to-use bill-splitting app where you do not even have to log in. It lets you upload expenses, and you can choose an even or uneven split with your roommate. No internet is required to use it as it works offline.
While managing finances is really about household bookkeeping, a lot of emotion can be tied around spending habits. To maintain peace and a healthy relationship with your roommate, you need to navigate the inevitable conflicts with care.
Communicating with each other is necessary and vital for bringing an issue to light. Chances are either you or your roommate will at one time or another be totally oblivious to the fact the other is not happy about something. This is where good communication comes in and planning ahead.