Split Expenses with Roommates by Developing a Budget

by admin on November 13, 2011

Having roommates can be difficult for many people, either because they have never shared a flat with anyone before or because they simply are not good with people. College is when you usually end up with a roommate for the first time – studies show this is the case for 75 percent of all people – but college roommates are not the only issue. The real issue is learning to budget and share expenses with other people. In this sense, college can help you prepare for married life, especially if you have moved in with a college sweetheart.

Joint budgeting starts with individual budgeting. This means you have to make your own budget first. You cannot work anything out with another person or people if you can’t work it out for yourself. If you are living with someone who blew their scholarship or grant on new clothes or football tickets, you do not have much of a future with them. Enjoying sound joint financial management is out of the question here.  

Hopefully, you have something in common with your roommate, because this will eventually make joint budgeting easier. However, the personal budget should include all your revenue sources and respective expenses, be they fixed, periodic, or incidental. And hopefully, the former exceeds the latter. Calculate how much you individually spend on food, bills, and entertainment. Then talk to your roommate about your financial philosophy. Are you going to share everything or keep your stuff to yourselves? It can be hard to divide grocery, furnishing or cleaning expenses, so this is something you should definitely talk about. It can be easier to split bills, although arguments could result from this too, as in, “You leave the light on in your room all night” and “you leave the heater on when you go out, so why should we split the bill even?” They would be right about the heater. If anything, it is dangerous to do this. Decide at the beginning which expenses you will split even and which you won’t. The person getting the better or best room should probably pay the bigger part of the rent. If you have cable TV but one watches far more frequently than the other, you wouldn’t want to split even either. Also, decide how you will make payments. If there are two of you, one could write the checks for all of the individual bills every month and the other can cover his part by writing one cheque each month. You could prepay all the bills at the beginning of the month or make two payments a month, or pay at the end of the month. This is something you should decide on. You can also pay the bills as they come in. You can pay by card, cash, or check. One could pay by card and the other returns his part in cash at a later time.

It might be a good idea to write a contract outlining the terms of your agreement, including who pays what and how. It need not be signed by a notary – you can use it to avoid miscommunication and ensuing arguments. Or, if you want to be 100 percent safe, make it official.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: