How to Divide Expenses Between Roommates

Living with someone can complicate a relationship. Money issues can complicate it even further. My first roommate experience culminated in an explosive fight over money and unpaid utility bills. In order to avoid a disaster situation like mine, here are some tips to divide expenses between roommates so that money problems are never an issue.

Know your expenses
Before figuring out how you are going to divide up your expenses, you have to know what your expenses are. You’re most likely going to have utility bills, such as heat, electric, and cable. In addition to utility bills, think about shared household items such as paper towel, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies.

Start from the beginning
Part of the problem with my roommate situation was that we never discussed who was paying what and how we were going to go about dividing up the expenses of the apartment. When you move in, have a “family meeting” and discuss bills and expenses. My one roommate is in charge of all of the utility bills and my other roommates and I pay him at the end of the month. It’s an easy system that we have never had a problem with. I also have a friend who pays for the heat and electric bill and their roommate pays for the cable and Internet bill. Figure out the best system for you and your roommates and establish it early so each roommate knows where they stand and what they owe.

Have a communication system
If you’re the one in charge of the bills, ask your roommates early and often for their share of the bills so they have time to get you the money. Establish a communication system, such as a text message reminder at the end of the month or a calendar on the refrigerator or in a shared space to outline what everyone owes and when it’s due. Communication is key in any relationship and when money is involved, it’s best to be in constant communication so that no one is surprised.

What about rent?
The biggest shared expense for you and your roommates will be your rent. If one of your roommates is late with rent, it can affect your relationship with your landlord and can cause you to have to pay a late fee.  Look into paying your rent online. That way you won’t have to collect any rent from anyone at the end of the month. Your rent will just automatically be taken out of your account when it’s due.

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