Living with roommates for the first time can be an adjustment, and it can get awkward when finances come into play. If you’re planning an off-campus move or are moving into your first post-college apartment, this will likely be the first time you’re responsible for paying for everything from cleaning supplies to toilet paper — and with one or more other people in the mix, it’s hard to know how to figure out who pays for what and when. But it’s important to talk out a plan for shared budget items so that no one person feels taken advantage of.
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Here’s how to approach talking about shared budget items with your roommate.
What Budget Items You Need To Discuss
Before divvying up responsibilities, take inventory of all the various items that could be shared expenses. Jay Zigmont, PhD, CFP, founder of Childfree Wealth, has identified some key financial areas for discussion:
- Electricity: “Are you splitting electricity? What if your roommate decides to put in a bitcoin mining farm and drives the bill up?”
- Heating and A/C: “What temperature are you willing to agree upon?”
- Cleaning: “Who is going to be doing the cleaning and paying for the supplies?”
- Food: “Are you sharing or on your own?”
- Timing: “When are you paying the bills and the rent?”
Other shared expenses may include internet, home streaming services, light bulbs, toilet paper and trash bags.
Coming to an agreement on all of these terms will likely require some compromise. It may help to invite a neutral third party to take part in this conversation to ensure that everyone feels heard and that whatever you come up with is deemed to be objectively fair.
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How To Split Costs Fairly
Zigmont recommends splitting costs down the line rather than assigning certain shared items to one person. He also recommends putting everything in writing once you’ve agreed on how you will split expenses.
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“The documentation can be as simple as an email back and forth, but you need to have an agreement …….