Save money by sharing expenses
Living with a roommate is a smart move when you’re at school or starting a career. Roommates are great for widening your social circle and sharing responsibilities at home. On the financial side, you can save money with a roommate by sharing apartment costs, which will help keep your expenses down. Of course, living with someone else can be problematic, especially if you don’t share the same views on how the household should be managed and bills paid. To avoid potential pitfalls, you can create a roommate agreement that will help keep your budget (and relationship) healthy.
Choose wisely. Your new roommate should be someone you can trust and get along with. You don’t want to come home to a stressful environment, and you certainly don’t want the hassle of having to move if things don’t work out. Avoid this by living with a friend you know well, asking friends to spread the word that you’re looking for a roommate, or placing an ad. If you don’t know the person, interview potential roommates to find out whether they have stable employment, how much time they’ll be home, how neat they are, and how they deal with conflict. If you already know your potential roommate, have a heart-to-heart talk about what you both expect from the new living arrangements. Make sure you’re comfortable with each other’s lifestyle and communication style, and that your schedules are compatible.
Get it in writing. Before you have a welcome party, make sure you both sign the lease or written agreement that your landlord provided. This way, you’re both responsible for the rent and the condition of the apartment. It’s also a good idea to set up a roommate agreement to establish household rules and avoid problems. A good roommate agreement includes:
- How much each roommate owes for rent.
- Who pays which bills. Divide them so everyone is responsible for at least one payment.
- Rules about overnight guests, parties and noise.
- How food and supplies are shared.
- When payments for shared costs are due. Decide whether you will pay up front or wait until the bills are due.
- A cleaning schedule and responsibilities.
- Move-out procedures – how much notice is required, and who is responsible for finding the new tenant.
Savings Tip #14
Set up automatic payments for rent, phone, heat and electricity bills - and encourage roommates to do so too. Automatic payments make late notices a thing of the past.
Share the bills. The more costs you share with your roommate, the more money you’ll save:
- Utilities (electricity, heat, water)
- Cleaning supplies
Meet regularly. The best way to avoid conflict is to keep the lines of communication open. Agree to meet about once a month, and use that time to check that bills are being paid, air grievances and discuss solutions. Keep the conversation respectful, and talk out disagreements until a compromise is reached that makes everyone happy. Once the heavy stuff is out of the way, use the time to plan a “roomie night”. Rent some DVDs and order out—with all the money you’ll save with a roommate, you can afford to have some fun!
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