Money is always a touchy subject–especially when you’re talking about money with your roommates. There are a lot of roommate finances to get in order once you sign a lease with others, and it’s best to have this talk before moving into your new abode. There are probably a lot of questions about budgeting with roommates running through your head, and your new roommates are likely feeling the same way. Follow these guidelines to chat about funds without a hitch:
Who Will Handle the Moola?
Have you considered who will handle each bill, send in rent, or pay for food? It’s a fact of life–some people are just better with money than others, so you might want to have that discussion early on.
When I lived in an apartment with three of my friends, we all took the initiative to handle one bill each: rent, cable and internet, gas and electricity. Instead of having to transfer funds, write checks or hand over lump sums, we decided to get a joint bank account together. Now this might not be the ideal situation for everyone, but it worked for us. All of our names were on our roommate account, so we could all easily transfer money over to cover all expenses when necessary. It also made it easier to write out bills or pick up necessary items like cleaning supplies, paper towels and toilet paper.
How Much Will Everyone Pay?
The answer to this question differs from person to person, so it’s best to lay down the ground rules early on. Will costs be split evenly down the middle? Will one roommate pay more because he or she uses the cable or internet more frequently? This can make talking about money a bit trickier, because it can lead to confrontation down the road if another person begins to use one service more than before.
If all the rooms in your apartment are a different size, this brings up another concern for renters. In my apartment, we all chose rooms based on the furniture that we had, and I was unlucky enough to land with the smallest bedroom. However, there wasn’t a more fair way to handle it at the time, so I went with it. If you don’t have any clear indicator like the one we had, pick numbers out of a hat or have each person plead their case for a specific room. Expect that the roommate with the largest room or walk-in closet will cough up the most money.
Be Open with Roommates
Budgeting with roommates can be challenging if one person has a higher paying job than another, so being open and honest about your money situation can ease tension and headaches. While it might be unfair to say one person pays more than another just because of their job, unless they chose to live in a lively area or a modern apartment, you’ll want to be honest if you run into money troubles. Rather than footing a late charge on a bill, sit down with your roommates if you are struggling one month and plot out a plan that works for everyone.