Posted Oct 17, 2014

Six Tips for Discussing Monthly Expenses With Roommates

While having a roommate is a great way to afford the cost of rent, a shared apartment living arrangement can be challenging if someone is unable to fund his or her share of the expenses. Until you can say, “Please pay your rent,” without sounding offensive, you are left with stress stemming from due dates and bills, which are real threats to your credit rating.

Splitting Monthly Expenses with Roommates

Nobody wants to offend or get offended. Arguments, resentments, and failed friendships between roommates can be avoided! Follow six practical tips to avoid the hurt feelings and awkward conversations caused by divvying up the monthly expenses of your new apartment.

1. Discuss ways to split monthly expenses.

There are two simple ways of splitting the shared bills: equally or by usage. As simple as it sounds, assigning specific expenses to either equal or per usage payment can be tricky. For instance, an equal share in rent among roommates may be the assumed norm. However, if one room is much larger and has a walk-in closet, it might make more sense to split the rent based on square footage.

If one roommate can’t live without cable and the other never uses the TV, splitting the cable bill equally probably isn’t the right way to go. On the other hand, payments for basic utilities like electricity and water should be split equally. Calculating individual usage rates for utilities can be tiresome and time-consuming. However you choose to split your bills, make sure you and your roommate are on the same page before you sign the lease.

2. Sign a roommate agreement.

Once you’ve determined how you and your roommates will split monthly expenses, put in a roommate agreement that everyone signs. Having your decisions in writing will save you from arguments a few months down the road if you remember things differently.

3. Get help from apps.

Make bill-sharing and payments a lot easier by installing bill-management apps on your computer or smartphone. There are various mobile apps for this purpose, and you can choose which suits your sharing arrangement the best. Try Venmo, Splittr and GroupMe, all designed specifically for bill-sharing, from calculating who owes what and how much, to transferring funds and completing payments.

For a hassle-free rent payment, talk to your landlord about Pay With Lovely, which lets you set up a monthly recurring payment . Pay With Lovely gives you due-date reminders five days in advance to avoid late payment fees, and notification when the payment has been made and if’s successfully received by your landlord. It’s a win-win for you and your landlord.

4. Discuss sharing arrangements with tact and encourage responsible use of shared things.

If you cannot share in the food or grocery bill because of a different eating habit, food preference or a dietary restriction, politely explain your reason why you can’t join in the food pool. While personal things like soap, shampoo and hygiene products are also better bought off individually, it does not mean you cannot enjoy sharing other simple stuff. Just make sure you discuss the sharing rules tactfully. Encourage responsible use among everyone, like placing the sandwich spread back in the fridge, and replacing toilet paper rolls if you’re the last user.

5. Give allowance for financial disruptions.

Things happen–like suddenly losing a job or a family emergency. Have a talk with everyone concerned, and figure out how to best help the roommate and the contingency measures to take until things get back to normal. Depending on the gravity of the situation, a separate agreement can be drawn up for major expenses.

6. Choose your roommates wisely.

This last tip may be the most logical of all, but can be the hardest to comply in the long run. Like entering into a marriage, you’ll never know the real person until you live with him or her for some time. Do interviews and personal background checks to know your would-be roommate’s values, attitudes, habits, and priorities. These things are important to ensure a harmonious shared living arrangement, especially where rent and monthly expenses are concerned.

Got any tips on how you split monthly expenses with your roommates? We’d love to know what works and what doesn’t. Share your tips with @Lovely on Twitter.

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6 tips for splitting expenses with roommates

Photo Credit: Caden Crawford

Jordan Leonard


Jordan is the Social Media Manager at Lovely. She loves pugs, chocolate ice cream, and helping renters find their dream apartment.

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