Nowadays living with a roommate (or roommates) is becoming more of a lifestyle than a money saving necessity. Sharing an apartment with a roommate is being slowly transformed into sharing a home with a friend. You know, a roommate friend, where your apartment is the building base for your friendship. To keep this friendship smooth means keeping the environment in your house balanced and healthy.
Money issues are among things that affect any relationships in the most dramatic way, fixing and preventing any money problems that may arise between you and your roommate is a one effective way to make sure your roommate friendship stays intact.
What kind of money issues do roommates have more often?
Problems with utility bills. Fights and arguments over splitting bills are way too common among roommates. The other big one is bills that don’t get paid on time, or one of the roommates is late paying his or her share of bills.
When my friend Margo noticed that one of her roommates was running her A/C at the highest 24/7 resulting in their electric bill sky-rocket she offered her roommates to switch for prepaid meter with fixed rate and split that cost accordingly with the A/C roommate paying the higher share. This way they didn’t have to worry about unpleasant surprises that might come with the next electric bill, and their chill-loving roommate is enjoying her own micro-climate guilt-free.
The other good way to prevent bill fighting is to set up a “utility budget” which has to be paid by all at the beginning of the month, not at the end when bills are due.
Rent is another big bummer on the way to eternal roommate peace. Just as simple as this: rent ahead of everything. If rent is not paid, friendship is doomed. Period. How to make sure that this will never happen between you and your own roommate friend? Same principle like with the bills: get your rent ready at the beginning of the month, not at the end a few days before it’s due. If you or your roommate is going through some financial turbulence it would make sense to split the monthly rent in weekly payments instead.
My co-worker Yuko told me that she and her roommate has set aside some “emergency rent” money enough to cover one month rent in case one of them, or even both of them are unable to pay rent at the moment.
Groceries and food issues are a real problem too, even if you feel that you are bigger than fighting over an eaten sandwich. If this didn’t happen to you yet, just trust me, you won’t like the feeling you get when you open a fridge and see your favorite snacks missing (again!).
Grocery budget is a perfect solution for this problem. That doesn’t mean that you and your roommates have to convert to strict socialism and completely annihilate private property though. Do your own groceries buy and stash away delicacies just for yourself but pooling funds to keep a stock of basic things like milk, coffee, cereals, bread and nutella can’t be such a bad idea. Besides it might help reduce roommate theft. Your roommates are not evil, most of times they steal from you because they are hungry and your pepperoni and jack pizza is the only edible thing in the whole apartment. A stash of emergency snacks might be exactly what your household needs to balance the energy.
For all other purposes do not disregard new money handling apps like venmo and splitwise. Money is a serious issue, just like your home and smooth and friendly relationships with those you share it with. Don’t leave something that important up to chance.