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Tips for sharing expenses with roommates

Posted by Scott Stueber, CPCU, CISR, AAI on Aug 17, 2021 9:05:07 AM

Tips for sharing expenses with roommatesWhether you’re in college or you’re moving out on your own, living with roommates is a great way to share expenses and save money. However, it can turn into a nightmare if you’re constantly arguing about money.


Here are some tips and ideas that’ll make sure everyone understands their financial responsibilities.

1. Remember it’s a team effort.

No two people are alike. Each roommate will have different strengths and weaknesses and will bring a unique perspective. It’s best to talk through how your expenses will be divided. Share your ideas, but don’t force them upon your roommates. To make it the best living situation possible everyone must be heard and agree with the decisions made.

2. Write it down.

After you’ve come to an agreement on how your expenses will be divided, write it down. Day-to-day life is hectic. As time passes, the details of your agreement will likely fade. By having everything written down, everyone can refer to it when necessary.

3. Read your rental agreement.

Some landlords will accept separate payments while others will only accept one payment. It’s a good idea to read your rental agreement and make sure you know what your landlord expects. If only one payment can be made, decide who’ll be responsible for making it each month. If there are payment penalties make sure you know what those are.

4. Create an inventory list.

An inventory list along with pictures can be beneficial for two reasons. First, it can prevent roommates from duplicating items and wasting precious space. Second, if your apartment or home is damaged by fire or storms, there’s a record of each roommate’s personal property. This can help with filing an insurance claim and make payment easier.

5. Discuss the consequences.

It’s important to discuss what the consequences will be if your roommate(s) miss their payments. While it may seem like a nice gesture to accept an IOU, it’s not the best idea. Especially at the beginning of the lease because it may be difficult for your roommates to get back on track with their payments. If they can’t make the payment, make sure you assign them other responsibilities, such as cleaning the residence weekly. If they’re still having difficulty, it may be time for them to leave.

6. Visit the app store.

There are many handy apps that can help with keeping track of and making payments. Venmo has worked great for us. Payments to our friends are quick and convenient. The other benefit is that you don’t have to find an ATM to withdraw cash.

7. Purchase big ticket items separately.

When it comes to big ticket items, it’s best to make those purchases individually. It’s difficult to split up the big screen TV or couch amongst all the roommates when the lease is up. Discuss big ticket items that are needed and the cost associated with them before you move in.

8. Discuss groceries.

Food allergies, diets, individual preferences, and schedules can make buying and sharing groceries difficult. However, finding some commonality can help you save money. If no commonality can be found, it’s best to assign each person space in the kitchen and have everyone shop independently. This can help quell disagreements.

9. Establish party time rules.

If you’re having friends over, it’s your responsibility to provide food and beverages. Don’t rely on your roommates to help cover costs unless it’s mutually agreed upon.

10. Be honest.

If something is bothering you, talk to your roommate. Sending nasty texts or leaving notes isn’t the best way to solve a problem. Also, trying to ignore something will only make it worse. Talking through a problem or disagreement is the best option. Otherwise, it’ll make for a long and miserable living situation.

Do you have any suggestions or information you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you. Please share them in the box below.

Topics: Back to School

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