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How To Split Bills With Roommates

Last updated March 1, 2021

Ah, roommates. Sometimes you can’t live with them, in today’s economy you can’t really live without them. Most students end up getting a roommate or two during their college years to help reduce expenses with the growing cost of living. If you’ve chosen the right people to live with and the right living arrangements, having roommates can actually be a very cost effective—and fun—way to go.

Sharing expenses with a roommate can be as complex as splitting bills like rent and utilities or as simple as throwing a few dollars toward a shared streaming service account or textbook rental. Keeping things fair is the biggest concern most roommates have to address. Luckily, there are ways you can make sure everyone is happy without requiring too much sacrifice from either person involved.

1. Establish ground rules upfront

It's important to very clearly identify what is being paid for and how much each person is responsible for contributing (down to the cent). For bills that fluctuate, or may be different each month, like utilities, you may each agree to pay a certain percentage every month no matter what the final amount of the bill is. This may seem like a lot to go over but trust us; when it comes to sharing bills, the more structure and clarity you have in the beginning, the better.

2. Come up with a way to track your expenses

Whether you use an app, calendar, or create your own spreadsheet, you'll need some kind of documentation that clearly outlines the ground rules that are agreed upon and discussed. This should include each expense, when they're due, how much each person will pay, and how those payments will be made.

3. Communicate

Sometimes things come up and life happens. If you know you may not have your half of the bill ready by the due date, speak up, and let your roommates know. If you've given them enough notice in advance, they may be able to cover you for that month or come up with a plan to scrape together some extra funds.

4. Choose your roommates wisely

Not every friend you have will make an excellent roommate candidate. Personal relationships can make roommate situations messy if you let them affect one another. Take some time to observe behavioral habits and truly get to know your roommate before making anything official. Know your limits. Ask questions. What was their last roommate experience like? How or why did it end? If someone wants to be your roommate, but they don't feel like the right choice, or meet all of your expectations, it's okay to say no thank you and keep searching. Even if that person is your best friend.

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