Having roommates can be helpful and a lot of fun. You may be able to rent a larger apartment, you have someone to help with the cleaning, and you always have someone to watch a movie with. On the other hand, sharing space and bills can be challenging. Planning ahead, having tough conversations in a respectful way, and using money management resources can make all the difference. Here are some tips for splitting the bills and keeping the peace.
Choose Your Roommates Carefully
This part seems obvious, but it’s too important not to mention. Before signing a lease with someone, do some serious soul searching and have some in-depth conversations. Just because you enjoy hanging out with someone doesn’t mean that sharing a space is a smart move for your friendship. Look outside your immediate social circle for roomie recommendations from people you trust. Ask any potential roommates questions ahead of time that may become uncomfortable later on. Find out things like their work schedule, how they manage money, and how they handle household responsibilities. Set yourself up for success from the start.
Use Apps to Plan and Manage Payments
Yes, there’s an app for that. For large expenses, like rent or utilities, consider using an app that can help with the math and track and organize the payments. For example, a free app like Venmo lets you send money from a debit account and also allows you to request money. That makes it easier to let your roommates know that their share is due. Another great app is Splitwise. It lets roommates, or anyone splitting costs, track bills and tally who has already paid. I also sends reminders so you don’t miss a payment. While you’re looking for money management apps, consider downloading an app like Mint, to set, track, and keep tabs on your personal budget and finances as well.
Keep Some Purchases Separate
Even though you may plan to share some household items and services, it doesn’t always mean you need to split the bill. For instance, unless you and your roommates plan on selling everything when the time comes to move out, consider buying furniture separately. That way you can all share the up front expenses, but know what belongs to whom when you move. Make a list of furniture and necessary electronics for your apartment and assign financial responsibility for each. Groceries are another example of purchases that can remain separated, especially if you and your roommates have different tastes or diets.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Be willing to have financial conversations and renegotiate with your roommate(s) as situations and habits change. Communication is the key to preserving any relationship, especially when money is involved. If each party is committed to keeping bills organized and paid on time, there will be a lot less stress and you can focus on enjoying your space and your friendship.