By: Madyson Riddell
Having roommates is a great way to save money while still living on your own. However, assuming these roommates aren’t your parents, there’s a little more work when it's that time of the month to pay rent, split bills, and make everything fair for all parties. So when it comes to money and roommates here is the number one rule: COMMUNICATION IS KEY.
Hopefully you are reading this before moving in with someone - but if not there’s plenty to learn here too.
Multiple bills each month? Electric, cable, water, heat, etc.
There are 2 classes of thought to splitting all of bills with pros and cons to both.
Divide bills and responsibilities – Put one in each person’s name!
Have all of the bills in one persons name
OMG but what if my roommate has an unofficial live in Significant Other??
Does the SO already have their own place? Maybe choose your battles. In the long run, the amount of water they are using for the shower is not going to make a huge difference. Maybe they can earn their keep by doing some chore you hate doing…like taking out the garbage or vacuuming. But if it really bothers you, use your adult communicating skills and talk about it!
AND this house guest should ALWAYS clean up after him/herself - clothes should not be left everywhere - clean or otherwise. (Keep these things in mind if you are the one with the SO sleeping over 5 nights a week)!
The SO moved in! Now what? Well hopefully this was all discussed before they moved in…In the case that the SO actually lives there now - rent & expenses should be split differently in a fair and reasonable way. Two people sharing one bedroom should not be expected to pay 2/3 of the rent, but also they should be paying for more than half. Have a discussion and find a middle ground.
How to get paid $$$ (or how to pay):
Exchanging money has never been so easy! Venmo, PayPal, old fashioned checks, heck you can even pay people on Snapchat. No excuses! Pick a platform and agree to it to have a place where there is a record of all money changing hands. Venmo is great because people can request money from each other and remind people if they haven't completed the transaction. Some other roommate bill splitting apps include Splitwise, HomeSlice, SpotMe.
How Type A are you?
Shared excel sheets are great. Write up a roommate contract. Giving itemized receipts every month to the roommates could make things crystal clear!
Pro Tip: Keep all receipts (make a folder for emails), and keep track of everything!
WAITT! My roommate STILL has not paid me…
People get busy and may forget from time to time. That being said you are an adult - ask again politely and don't let it become a ~thing~. If this becomes a pattern, sit down and have a conversation and establish guidelines and consequences if the behavior keeps happening. Ex. Have a late fee policy in place. If your roommate didn't pay the bank on time, the bank would do the same thing. And make sure you aren't that roommate that isn’t paying up when those monthly bills come in!!
BONUS SECTION: Pet Peeve Alert!
Share a bathroom? Share a kitchen? Whether you mean to or not you will be sharing certain items. Roomie has never bought toilet paper, soap, dishwasher detergent, paper towels, etc.? To be honest, I don't know what to tell you about this…I am currently living this reality so comment below if you have any ideas.
If you haven't moved in together yet, put it in the contract! Talk about it early! Put purchases in a spreadsheet that everyone can see and post it to the fridge. Something to make sure no one feels like they are the only one contributing to these household necessities.
CHORES?? What am I, 8 years old?
I don’t care that the last time you had a chore chart was in middle school in order to earn your allowance. There are certain chores that have to be done on a regular basis in spaces that will be shared among roommates. Write up a list of daily, weekly, and monthly chores and post it on the fridge. Or make it simple - “I’ve got the kitchen, you get the bathrooms.” Ultimately, CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF. Impose consequences for roommates that don’t clean up after themselves of their guests (you can make it fun in a way - perhaps if a roommate forgets to do dishes one day he/she owes the rest of the roommates a drink out).
DO NOT: be passive aggressive, leave notes, or clean up after them every time. Talk to them in person, and be reasonable. (Click here to learn how to communicate as an adult).
UGH. Your roommate leaves every single light on for 8 hours while she’s at work? Roommates leave the AC on full blast when everyone is gone for the weekend?
For a while you may be able to go around after him/;her turning things off, but that gets really old really fast…at some point have that conversation. Something like “Wow our electric bill was pretty high this month. I bet it would go down if we all remembered to turn things off when we aren’t using them! And I bet the polar bears would appreciate it too…”
UMMM… my roommate has a master bedroom, uses the only garage spot, and has a million dollar view while I live under the stairs…
Well considering this is not a ~new~ thing that happened I hope this was discussed before moving in! But if not, take other things into account: did one person provide the bulk of the furniture and that beautiful 55” TV in your living room, but they have their own bathroom? Probably a fair trade. Their bedroom is a little bigger but you have an awesome view and a killer walk in closet? Also probably not something worth complaining about.
Otherwise have the conversation before moving in about how rent will be split. Some ideas to determine what is fair would include calculating the square footage of the bedrooms and using that as a gauge for splitting rent, use a rent calculating tool like SplitWise.com or Spliddit.com, or have the person with more perks take on one of the monthly bills solo. Lots of options to discuss!
Finally…In doing research for this article I came across the following questions people often ask:
Have any more tips for splitting the bills as roommates? Comment below on your experience!