When you have roommates, some things are easier to split than others. A bottle of wine is fun to share with your roomies. Sharing the couch for a Netflix marathon? No problem. Chipping in for a Saturday evening BBQ? Of course, and invite some friends. But when it comes to bills …
Yup, nothing can mess with the friendship of a household faster than disagreements over who owes what. So here is how to set things up to keep the bill management process with your roommate(s) free of awkwardness and hurt feelings.
Give every roommate a bill to manage.
When living together, you will need to put bills under your name (TV/Internet, Waste, Electricity, Water). Give each roommate a bill or two to manage. This means that when the bill is due, they are in charge of making sure the bill gets paid on time and must be on top of any unordinary charges.
Decide how to split.
In theory, you would just split all the bills down the middle, but in practice that isn’t always the case. Before you sign up for Internet and cable and before you pay your first electricity bill, sit down with your roommate(s) and decide what each person should pay. Address questions like:
If your roommate doesn’t watch TV, should he/she pay for cable?
If your roommate sleeps with the fan running all night during the summer, should he/she pay more for electricity?
What if someone goes on a two-three week vacation? Should they still pay for a full month’s electricity?
Does a significant other spend half of their time at the apartment? Should they chip in for the water bill because of the extra showers?
Although these questions are hard to hash out initially, it will be a lot easier to address these issues in the beginning, than when they arise. Coming to an understanding beforehand can make the process of splitting the bills a lot smoother.
Use Money/Bill management apps:
When it comes to paying the bills, there are multiple ways you and your roommates can split up the bill pay process. You can each pay your portion directly on the bill provider site, or pay each other if one person pays the entire bill. If you do the latter, apps such as Venmo can make the process of paying each other quick and easy. With Venmo you and your roommates can deposit money straight into each other’s bank accounts. To keep track of all the bills, set up a Finovera account. Finovera reminds you to pay your bills on time and helps you manage bill due dates and amounts due. Plus, you can accomplish this all remotely via your cell phone.
You and your roommates might have steady jobs and may be on top of things, but life gets in the way, vacations happen, and things can get forgotten. Have a steady bill management plan from the get-go and don’t forget to turn off the lights!