Tips on Sharing Expenses with a Roommate
Living with roommates has its benefits, from having a friend down the hall to not having to pay all of the rent on your own. But, how do you decide how to split the bills? These helpful tips can help you get started when it comes to sharing expenses with a roommate.
Decide How to Split the Bills
When you decide to share living space, sit down and discuss splitting expenses with your roommate. There’s no set way to divvy up the bills that works for every situation, so agree on a plan that everyone is comfortable with, recommends Forbes. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you discuss sharing expenses.
Splitting the Rent
Your biggest expense will likely be the monthly rent. You can split the cost evenly, but you may want to consider the size and amenities of each room. For example, a room with a large closet or a private bathroom may be worth more than a smaller room with a shared bathroom, says Rent.com. Decide up-front if you or a housemate will pay a little more in rent to have a master bedroom or another highly-desired space.
Sharing Utility Bills
Some utilities, such as water or gas, may be included in the monthly rent. Determine which utility bills will need to be paid separately, and decide how to handle them each month. You can split the utility bills evenly, or divvy up the costs based on income, room size or other factors that make sense for your situation, says Apartment List.
Paying for Groceries
Unless you both shop with the same frequency and like the same foods, sharing grocery shopping and food costs can get complicated, according to Rent.com. You could find yourself arguing over whose turn it is to buy milk or who used the last of the eggs. Consider if it’s best for everyone to handle their own shopping and only eat what they purchase themselves.
Agree on Extras
It’s likely you’ll have other expenses, such as Internet and cable or a streaming TV service. Before you move in, decide what additional expenses you’ll be incurring and how to split them, says Rent.com. For example, you may want to split the costs of a cleaning service, but you don’t have to share the bill for a streaming movie subscription that only one of you will use.
Put It In Writing
It is a good idea to put your agreement for splitting expenses in writing before move-in day, says Apartment List. This can mean simply sending an email to the roommates and having everyone respond that they agree to it, or writing up a basic contract that everyone signs. Forbes notes that this can be a helpful way to avoid conflict down the road, in case there is a mix-up with everyone’s responsibilities.
Get Organized and Communicate
It may be a good idea to have one person in charge of collecting and paying the bills (either electronically or by keeping papers organized), says Rent.com. This can help avoid a bill being misplaced or paid late. Forbes also recommends keeping a record of all payments.
It can also be helpful to put expenses on a calendar so that everyone knows when a bill is due, says Rent.com. You may want to use a paper or online calendar — whichever works best for you and your roommate.
Use Technology to Transfer Funds
There are a number of apps that can make it quick and easy to request money from a roommate and for them to send it directly to you, says Rent.com. No one has to wait for a check to cash, and you can make the transactions from anywhere. Rent.com notes another upside is that you’ll have a digital record of the payments between you and your roommate.
It may take a little while to figure out the best way to handle splitting bills with your roommate, so be flexible. Communicate with each other on expectations up-front so that you can agree on a system that works for everyone.
Originally published on June 4, 2012.