Due to the rising cost of living, most adults are either living with one or more roommates at any given time. Whether you love living with others or consider roommates a necessary evil, having a person in your home or apartment can lead to significant savings.
However, you still need to figure out how to divide costs throughout the household fairly. Here are five ways to split your expenses.
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Use the following methods to split your expenses in a multi-person household fairly.
1. Create a Roommate Agreement
Although you and your roommates signed a rental contract with your landlord, that piece of paper isn’t enough to guarantee they’ll pay their share of the rent. It also won’t describe what they’re responsible for regarding cleaning, parking, insurance, or guests.
You’ll likely start an argument if you ask your roommate to pay for something that wasn’t previously discussed or was discussed but not put in writing.
For example, if you’re comparing home insurance at iSelect and you decide to purchase contents insurance without your roommate’s permission, you can’t expect them to pony up the money. Always discuss any new purchase beforehand and get their permission in writing.
2. Never Share Food Expenses
Splitting food costs seldom works out because people like different brands and different types of food. If your roommate has special dietary needs, splitting the food bill is almost impossible. Only share your grocery bill for special occasions, like family dinners.
You can still help each other out for last-minute trips or replacements. For example, if you need to use your roommates can of soup but can’t make it to the store for a new one, leave some money on the counter or commit to buying a new can on your next food run.
3. Consider Splitting Costs Based on Percentages
When most of us consider fairness, we consider splitting rent and expenses directly down the middle. However, depending on how much a person makes, that won’t work out as planned.
If your roommate makes minimum wage, but you’re touting six figures, your housemate is spending 10x more on rent by comparison. While it’s easier to split everything 50/50, you’re helping out your struggling roommate a great deal by breaking costs down by percentages.
There will be some items that shouldn’t be split by percentage, like personal items. If your roommate works from home, you may want to charge them more for utilities because they’re using them more frequently. In the end, it’s up to the both of you to decide what’s fair.
4. Make it Easy to Track Expenses
Tracking expenses isn’t easy, especially with more than one roommate. However, if you each commit to using a financial tracking app, everyone will know how much each person spends on their purchases. At the end of the month, each roommate can settle up their debts.
You can also use an online spreadsheet, like Google Sheets, because they allow you to edit in real-time. This way, each roommate can check what they owe daily.
5. Factor in Unexpected Expenses
While there’s no natural way to expect the unexpected, you and your roommates can prepare for accidents by putting money away into a shared pool. Open a savings account that everyone can deposit into but can’t withdraw from unless every roommate is present.
You should also consider accidents that may result in losing your deposit. If you know one person caused the damage, then it isn’t fair for the others to pay. For example, pets may scuff up the carpets or floors, and it should be the pet-owners responsibility to pay the deposit.