I am notoriously terrible at talking about money. It makes me uncomfortable. I can never find the right words, and I never end up saying what I need to say, because I spend so much time tumbling over my words and making excuses for other people and not being direct with my intentions.
I'm the first kind of roommate to pay more than my share because I'm too awkward to solicit money from people, even if it's their responsibility to pay it. I'm all "oh, the cable bill is due, but, you know what, never mind, I'll pay it because you've had a long day and, oh yeah the rent is due too, but oh you just got dumped so, I got this, you do you," and then I have to overdraw my bank account to cover it. But over the years, I've had to learn how to approach the subject in the most adult way possible.
Talking about money is just another part of life that we all have to comply with. As we've all now figured out, money does not grow on trees; we have to work very hard for it, and most of our responsibilities suck our funds dry every month. Every penny counts for us young professionals, so we can't afford to let them go to waste because we're too scared to talk about them. Here are six tips for talking about money with your roommates and being as adult as possible:
One of the easiest and most direct ways to request money from a roommate is to send a Venmo request. Type in the amount they owe, include a description and hit "request." The app will then send your roommate a notification reminding them to pay the requested fee. The app will continue to send them reminders until they pay it, so you won't have to keep nudging.
If you've somehow fallen into or taken on the mother hen role in your home, starting a group chat is a great way to encourage everyone else to have a voice. It's not fun to be in charge, and it's a lot of pressure that shouldn't all be on your shoulders. Every time there's a topic that you need to discuss regarding the home, but feel too uncomfortable to bring up in person, resort to the group chat and talk it out, together.
Set up a monthly meeting with your roommates. Establish this meeting early on, so it doesn't seem like some sort of sentencing. Explain that everyone should come to the meeting with topics ready to discuss and bills ready to be paid. This will make it more of a group effort, and after a few months, it will feel so causal and normal you won't stress about it any more.
Make a detailed list of all of the shared expenses between you and your roommate, from bills to toilet paper to joint ventures like curtains and air conditioning. Write them all down, divide the cost between you, and leave it somewhere noticeable, like the fridge or the kitchen table. Include a date payments are due. Try not to be passive aggressive about this. Make it as friendly as possible.
If you're super close with your roommate, you might consider setting up a joint bank account where you both deposit expense-related funds. If your roommate fails to deposit their share, the check will bounce and it will be an issue between them and the bank, rather than them and you. Steer clear of joint banking unless you have great communication with your roommate, though — it could lead to more serious issues with credit if you don't have a good rapport.
Talk to your roommate about taking turns with paying bills or splitting them up between the two of you. What's worked best for me is taking on different expenses that equal the same price. I pay electric and water, my roommate pays cable, they both end up being the same. She's in charge of toilet paper, I'm in charge of soap. It all works out.
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