There are many benefits to having roommates. They can reduce the amount of money that you have to pay in order to live in an apartment or house since expenses like rent and utilities are shared. However, even though the financial benefits may be significant, sharing living expenses with other people can also pose many issues as well.
For example, you may have a roommate that forgets to pay his or her rent on time or refuses to pitch in for groceries. It can get confusing to know who owes what amount of money and when it is all due, plus it can be uncomfortable to ask your roommate to hand over that money when the time comes. Luckily, there are some tried-and-true tips that can be used to make sharing roommate expenses much less stressful so that all of the bills are paid for on time and everyone continues to get along. To learn more, keep reading!
Identify the Expenses
The first thing that you and your roommates need to do is determine exactly what money is owed each month for each expense. Use a simple Excel spreadsheet, or find a budgeting spreadsheet online or through an app and plug each of your expenses into it. Make sure that you include everything that must be paid for each month including:
- Utilities that are not included in your rent (This may include water, power, gas, internet, Netflix, etc.)
- Renters insurance (if applicable)
- Groceries (Decide if one person will grocery shop for everyone and then be paid back, or if each person will buy and label their own food.)
- Household items (Supplies everyone uses – toilet paper, cleaning products, etc.)
Look back through previous months to see what is spent on average in each of those categories, and then split the costs between each roommate.
Also, it is crucial that everyone is completely aware of the exact due date for each expense. Make sure that you set up a plan to have all of the money collected at least a few days in advance of whenever an important bill is owed so that you can avoid having anything incur late fees or hurt your credit. If the due dates are clearly labeled on a calendar or put into each person’s phone along with a reminder alert, it is much more likely that everything will be paid on time.
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Once the exact amount of money that each roommate owes and the dates that the money is due are determined, it is important to communicate openly about those expenses. Make sure that everyone is comfortable with what they owe. You may be able to talk to each other about how you can save money in certain areas or reassess what is needed entirely if necessary.
Also, make sure that every roommate has a copy of the spreadsheet so that everyone is aware of the money they owe each month and when it is due. This can greatly improve the chances that the money will be paid in the right amount and on time without any confusion.
Plus, although it can be uncomfortable, it is crucial that everyone is held accountable for the money that is owed. This can be done by having periodic meetings, or by using some type of technology like a roommate app that helps to keep everyone organized and informed. Once the expectations are set, there is no “But I didn’t know when it was due!” excuse for anyone not paying his or her share.
Use Payment Apps
One of the most reliable ways to transfer money between roommates is by using a peer-to-peer payment app such as PayPal or Venmo. These apps make it simple to send money to your roommates.
This way, you can quickly repay a roommate for the toilet paper and dish soap he or she purchased at the store or transfer your rent payment to whoever is going to be in charge of paying rent from his or her account. Although getting cash out through an ATM is always an option as well, using a payment app is much faster because the money is transferred instantly, and there is no need to visit a bank or an ATM.
Plus, apps like Venmo allow you to request certain amounts of money from your friends, and you can also keep track of what money has been paid in the past which can help to keep everything very organized.
Find Better Roommates
If you have tried all of the tips listed above including communicating openly, documenting all expenses in a spreadsheet and using payment apps and you are still having issues with getting your roommate(s) to pay his or her share of the expenses, it may be time to find a new roommate. Depending on the terms of your lease, you may have to wait it out for a few months before moving to a different apartment. Or, if you do not want to move, you may need to have a conversation with your roommate about him or her potentially finding a new place to live if the financial situation does not get worked out.
Then, when you search for new roommates, make sure that you interview them ahead of time to try to determine whether they are responsible and willing to pay their share on time. Ultimately, communicating openly with your roommates is the most important thing that you can do to ensure that everyone pays for their share of the expenses on time and that everyone continues to get along as well.
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By Alfred Wickham –