Talking about money isn't always easy — and with some people it's more difficult than others. Unfortunately, when you share a living space with someone, money talk comes up a lot. Between rent, bills, toilet paper, and that last candy bar that you knew I was saving but you ate anyway like some sort of monster, you need to work out your finances with your roommate.
Sometimes living with a friend can make it easier, but if money is an issue of contention, it can actually be more difficult to talk about it. You feel weird and guilty and, more than any of that, you don't want to make the living situation feel difficult. But whether you live with a friend or a total stranger, it's time to sit down and start to work out you bills.
I know, it can be awkward, but it's part of being a financially responsible adult. Having your bills figured out means not wasting money on late fees and extra charges — and more money for savings. "Remember, it's never too late to start saving, no matter where you are in life," Anna Colton, Merrill Edge executive, tells Bustle. "As you get older, consider job changes, salary increases, and lifestyle changes as an opportunity to evaluate your savings plan and how much you're contributing to your retirement. In addition, consider automating your savings. Having money automatically deposited from a paycheck into a workplace retirement account can make investing for the future effortless."
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So it's time to get it figured out. And when it comes to bills, you have a few options. Here's what you should consider:
1. Can You Work Out A 50/50 Split?
If you can split everything 50/50, this is the easiest solution. It's easy and it's straightforward, and it's what I've done in pretty much every living situation I've ever had. And, if you both normally use the same amount, it works. But if one of you is always traveling or likes the heat cranked up to 110 degrees, it might get tricky. So this only works if there's not going to be any resentment on either side.
2. Take Room Size Into Consideration
If one of you is short on cash, you can often find a place with different room sizes. This means that you can live in a nicer place but with nobody feeling like they're out of budget. But it's something you need to talk about. "If you have a bath in your room versus the common space, do you pay more?" Priya Malani, co-founder of Stash Wealth tells Bustle. "Do you automatically get the larger space if you make more?" Make sure you talk it through.
3. Each Pay For Your Own Extras
So, sometimes, one of you wants something the other doesn't. For example, I like having a cleaner — and a cleaner who costs more than other cleaners because I want them to have a good wage. But that's my choice, so I pay for that. If only one of you wants Netflix, an HBO subscription, or a grocery delivery service or something extra, you need to figure out if only that person should pay for it — and what happens if the other person uses it.
4. Figure Out The Food Situation
Food is often tricky. First of all, because it's not a "bill" in the traditional sense, you may think it'll just work out on its own. But some people have very clear thoughts on food sharing. Some like it being communal, and some will defend their last piece of bread to their death. Make sure you work out this one beforehand, because it's really likely to come up all the time if you don't.
"If you guys have similar habits, creating a combined budget could work. For example with groceries, maybe you each put $15 towards weekly staples that would be shared like milk, eggs, bread, etc.," Malani says. And that may cover the basics, but we can't forget that people have different wants and needs when it comes to food. "But then you can buy the rest of your speciality items separately. It can get especially tricky if one of you has dietary restrictions/preferences, gluten-free, paleo, etc."
5. Does One Person Need To Take Charge?
Pay. Your. Rent. On. Time. Late fees are a waste of money — and sometimes just the result of being disorganized. "For things like rent, Venmo, Quick Pay, or Zelle are the easiest way," Malani says. "If the person on the lease isn't the most responsible, pick the more responsible person to be in charge of rent and ONLY pay after you've received the other roommates' share or IOU." Splitwise is an app that can be a total game-changer if you tend to fight over bills and want proof of who spent what.
There are lots of different ways to split bills with your roommate, so make sure that you work out what's right for the two of you. And remember, being clear when you first move in will make things so much easier down the line.
Psst! Download CNBC Make It x Bustle's roommate contract and never fight over things like whose turn it is to buy toilet paper ever again.