How to Fairly Split Bills with Roommates and 5 Other Tips When Living with Flatmates
Are you looking for or living with a roommate? Then this article is for you and it will save you loads of hassle and perhaps even some money.
Knowing how to split bills with roommates and handling some other tricky situations can greatly improve your living arrangements going forward—and Enzo has been key to many roommates solving their woes.
Living costs are ever-increasing and force many people of all ages, but especially people aged between 18 and 35, to share their living space and expenses with a roommate. However, you may already know that one of the biggest challenges of a shared lifestyle is the financial aspect of it.
Can you handle it better?
For one thing, roommate agreements should be drawn up carefully, it’s crucial to split bills with roommates fairly and also learn how to compromise to accommodate others. Below we’ll show you how to get this—and more—right.
Practical Guidelines on How to Split Bills with Roommates
Realize How Your Choices Affect Others
One of the biggest lessons of adulting is taking up the responsibility to manage your finances, such as tracking expenses. This is even more important when sharing space with others, because your own financial decisions will impact others. After all, if you spend your money on hobbies and neglect to pay your part of the rent, other people will have to pay your share to avoid being evicted.
Sharing a house with a roommate is a challenge in its own, and deciding who manages the bills can be an even bigger one!
For fair management of finances, someone must take charge, ensure expenses are paid on time and create a system of how to split bills with roommates. It must be someone that other roommates trust and an individual who is good with numbers. Also, after assigning someone the role, it’s only fair if other roommates play their part—if the responsible person has a request, others must assist.
Furthermore, be intentional about creating an environment that’s fair to everyone. Don’t be shy to speak up when you’re uncomfortable with any suggestions others make on how to split bills with roommates. As part of any household, you have a responsibility to ensure house rules prioritize fairness.
Decide How to Split the Bills
As a group you need to discuss what responsibilities each person will take up. It will also help if you have insight into each other’s financial well-being.
For this reason, it’s important to sit down with your roommate—or roommates—and be frank about your financial commitments and cashflow. Review the household budget along with everyone’s budgets and decide on the best possible way to cover all costs.
All households are unique, so there’s no one guideline that works for everyone. Many people sharing space with one other person use a 50/50 rule, but below are some other methods to consider:
- Use income as a starting point: One roommate might earn more than another and will opt to pay the greater part of the rent amount, calculated proportionately according to each occupant’s income. This can still be a fair arrangement if someone who pays a little less agrees to do more of the cooking.
- Consider room size and unique circumstances: Will the rent be split in half, or on a scale according to living space? Some may eat more or have a dependent like a child. If one roommate is using the bigger room or perhaps a second room for a child, the rental amount can be calculated according to the square footage each individual occupies.
- Shared expenses: Will you only split the rent, or other monthly bills such as the food bills too? If you decide to split the rent only and no other bills, it’s crucial that neither will interfere with the other’s spending habits. Should each be responsible for their own groceries, there must be a clear understanding of what belongs to whom. Discuss a practical way of managing this, such as assigning each person a shelf or labeled container in the fridge, to avoid personal items getting mixed. And remember there will be items better purchased together, such as cleaning products for a communal bathroom and kitchen.
Compile guidelines in a formal agreement and let each room mate sign it, so you have proof of what you agreed upon. If there’s a dispute, it will be easy to settle, simply by referring to your document.
Use a Practical Finance Management System
A verbal agreement on managing bills isn’t enough. There is nothing worse than fighting over whose turn it is to cover the bill from last night’s pizza, or who will pay for snacks for the next get together with friends! You need a system to manage bills and also have a paper trail if anyone ever queries anything down the line.
Effective management starts with having a budget you will strictly keep to. The details of this budget will depend on whether you only need to manage rent and cleaning supplies, or aspects like groceries too. Also, if some general maintenance is your responsibility and not a landlord’s, remember to allocate funds to these expenses too.
Then you need an easy way to share information on bills with each other, so there’s no misunderstanding between flat mates. Luckily, thanks to technology, there is an app for nearly anything, and finances are no exception! A chore tracker app like Enzo makes living with flat mates so much easier with various features on how to manage finances, chores and more.
Keep Track of All Expenses and Paperwork
Keeping track of monthly expenses digitally is a great start, but it’s also important to have a good filing system. All occupants should have access and it will be a safe place to store proof of purchases and information on warranties of any assets in the apartment.
Ideally, keep digital copies of these documents as well and store it on the cloud, so it’s available even in the event of an unfortunate event like a natural disaster. This can be accompanied by a spreadsheet of all costs taken on by you as roommates and what percentage each person paid. In the event of refunds or insurance payouts, you’ll know how each person needs to be reimbursed.
5 Tips When Living with Roommates
As mentioned before, the best experiences with having a roommate are achieved by a clear understanding of how things will work in terms of expenses, chores and general house rules.
You also want a welcoming atmosphere that everyone will enjoy coming home to. Here are some tips on making it happen:
- Obey the house rules: If you step out of line, you’re giving other roommates reason to also stop respecting the house rules. Also consider the practical implications. Your one night of playing music louder than usual could bother someone studying for an important exam. Not doing what’s expected of you affects other people’s lives, so always think of how your choices will impact someone else’s day.
- Keep up with your commitments: Doing chores like cleaning up after using the kitchen shows respect. If you don’t consider others in your actions, from paying rent on time to cleaning the bathroom, it starts affecting other people’s lives negatively.
- Respect each other’s privacy and property: Don’t go into other people’s rooms unless they’re there and always knock before entering. Everyone deserves some privacy. Also, don’t use someone else’s belongings without asking first, or you could trigger unnecessary arguments that ruin the home atmosphere.
- Spend time together: Have fun nights out or order in and share life stories. Get to know your roommate better, because over time you’ll trust each other more, have more understanding and as a result have less tension and misunderstandings.
- Resolve conflict as quickly as possible: Learn to listen and communicate. Don’t ruin your home environment by carrying grudges. Like you, your roommate is human and likely to make mistakes. Focus on each other’s positive attributes and forgive quickly so your home can continue being a refuge for all parties concerned.
Living with a roommate can be pleasure—or punishment. Are your financial management guidelines in place to help avoid unnecessary conflict?
Get your roommate agreement in place, have an open discussion about the best ways to manage your expenses from now on and download Enzo to help manage chores, bills and more.
Yes, it takes a few difficult discussions to get it right, but once there’s better understanding between roommates, the atmosphere improves and you can enjoy each other’s company so much more.
Many flat mates are already using Enzo—talk to us if you want to know how it can help your current setup.
Have fun with this chapter of your life!