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College Life: Splitting Costs with Your Roommate
College Life: Splitting Costs with Your Roommate
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Campus Money Diaries

College Life: Splitting Costs with Your Roommate

Sheila Brenda Andoi
October 8, 2021

Ah, roommates!

Most students find themselves having a friend or two throughout their college years who they decide to be roommates with, to assist them to scale back on the price of expenses, particularly with the ever-rising economy.

If you have chosen the right person or people to live with, having a roommate can be so fun and very cost-effective.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t monetary challenges to living with a roommate or two. Besides remembering who did what task, who used the bathroom last etc. One of the biggest challenges of living with somebody is figuring out how to split living costs with them.

Sharing expenses with a roommate can be very complicated. From splitting bills like rent and utilities to sharing subscription services like Wi-Fi, to other unexpected expenses around the house, keeping things balanced, honest and fair is one of the biggest issues that a majority of roommates ought to address.

Dealing with a roommate who doesn’t contribute to shared costs can be frustrating. And the situation can move quickly from frustrating to financially damaging as it can hurt your finances and savings.

Fortunately, none of you should seem like they’re sacrificing an excessive amount of money trying to get things done or depending on the other too much. There are many ways you can ensure that all the above are dealt with properly and at the end of the day everyone’s happy.

1.     Decide Together How to Split Costs.

To manage expenses with a roommate, you have to work out a way to fairly divide household costs. Whether you and a friend have decided to move in together for the first time or you two already live together and you have decided to bring in someone new, you need to be intentional and decide how you’re going to handle various costs around the house.

Establish what you have to pay for and how much each person is responsible for contributing.

Plan everything before time to avoid issues in the future. A number of the things that you’d want to figure out include:

•       Electricity/token bill

•       Utilities

•       Rent

•       Internet

You might also consider using an app like Splitwise to help you split expenses with your roommate/roommates. The app enables you to add various bills and keep track of who owes who then it helps you to settle up with one another.

2.     Come up with a Way to Track Your Expenses

One of the most effective ways to split bills with your roommate is to track everything that every person spends on shared expenses.

Whether you chose to separate each cost equally, it's proper to write down every person’s share of the expenses to grasp who paid for what and how much it was.

You can create an outline that includes every expense, when they're due, how much each person will pay, and the way those payments are going to be made.

That way, each person can recognize precisely what they owe, as well as what they’ve already paid.

3.     Relationships

Kupigwa exile (where one or two roommates have to look for another place to stay, mostly for the night for the benefit of another in a shared space) is real.

Relationships are another hot topic when it comes to sharing a house with someone. Most of the time issues stem from one of the roommates bringing in their girlfriends, boyfriends, family, or other friends over for the weekend or the night.

Decide on whether you’d want to allow guests who are staying in for more than a day or overnight and how you both can handle them. Don’t forget that visitors can cost money too. To strike a balance, sit down and talk. Come with an agreement on how you both can maneuver such costs and whether you can cope with having an extra person around.

Will the roommate cover the costs of having an extra person around? Will they give you an alternative for where you can stay for that period? Have alternatives to such cases when they arise.

4.     Communicate

Many people avoid money and finance talks, however, whereas it may feel awkward to talk to your roommates regarding cash, this is often a crucial conversation to have. Communicating about money can help you avoid the argument about who bought what and owes what.

Sometimes things come up and life happens. If you know you may not have your half of the bill ready by the due date, speak up, and let your roommates know.

If you've given them enough notice in advance, they may be able to cover you for that month or come up with a plan to scrape together some extra funds.

5.     Keep Some Costs Separate

When it comes to splitting costs, groceries fall into a grey area. You might all agree that common items, such as milk or bread, should be shared, while other items should be purchased separately.

You should additionally avoid splitting the cost of furniture and electronics. That way, once it’s time to move out, you won’t have to decide who gets to keep the home theatre, the couch, or the TV.

Talk to your roommates ahead of time regarding what shared items you need and figure out who should pay for what.

The Takeaway

Maybe you love living with others, or maybe you see managing expenses with a roommate as a necessary evil till you’re able to well afford your place. Whatever the reason, it can translate into at least one positive thing: real savings.

Remember, not every friend you have got will make an excellent roommate candidate. Personal relationships can make roommate situations messy.

Take your time to observe their behavioral habits and get to know your roommate before making anything official. Recognize your limits. Ask questions. Have they ever lived with somebody else before? What was it like? How did they cope? Why did they stop living together?

If you would like somebody to be your roommate, but they don't feel like the right choice, or meet all your expectations, it's okay to say no thank you and keep searching.

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Sheila Brenda Andoi is a communicator, journalist, editor, and writer passionate about human-interest stories. You can find her on Twitter @sheilaandoi

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