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How to Budget Living Expenses With a Roommate

How to Budget Living Expenses With a Roommate

By Matt Diehl • August 13, 2019

Moving in with someone (or some people) for the first time can be exciting. After all, you probably chose to live together because you’re compatible. The thing is — you’ve never had to share the cost of rent, utilities or groceries before.

But that’s OK. You already know a few things about each other, so figuring out how to split bills might only take a little honesty and communication. Here are some common expenses to discuss to keep the good vibes flowing:

Rent

The largest cost of living together will most likely be the rent. There are many variables that can come into play, but here are a few rent-splitting scenarios to consider:

  • Split by number of people — This one is pretty simple. Take the monthly rent and divide it by the number of roommates.

  • Split by bedroom size —Some rentals have a large master bedroom with smaller second and third bedrooms. To be fair to the smaller room occupants, the bigger the room, the more you pay.

  • Bedrooms with extras pay more – Private bathroom. Walk-in closet. Access to a balcony or deck. These perks can only be enjoyed by one person who should pay extra for the luxury.

*Tip – If it’s not detailed in your lease, you should establish whether you pay your landlord individually or one roommate collects and pays the total amount due. *

Utilities

The first conversation should be if you all want “nice-to-have” services like premium cable on top of the basics like electricity, gas and water. Once that’s settled, it’s time to figure out how everything will get paid:

  • Split big bills, each person owns one small bill – You can all split gas and electricity, but if your internet, water and garbage bills are similar, each person can be responsible for one.

  • Add everything up and divide it equally – Take the total amount of your monthly bills and divide it by the number of roommates.

  • App it – If you and your roomies love technology, there are several bill-splitting apps that can do the work for you once you enter the amounts.

Groceries and cleaning supplies

These can be the most complicated of all living expenses to manage. To avoid any “he said/she said” disagreements, and to always have toilet paper, try these approaches:

  • Each person buys their own groceries – One of the easiest ways (in theory) to divide up food costs is for everyone to buy and eat their own food.
  • Each person buys cleaning supplies for one room – Roommate 1 has the kitchen, Roommate 2 has the bathroom and Roommate 3 has the family room.
  • Use a receipt jar – Whenever something shared is bought by a roommate, they write their name on the receipt and place it in the jar. At the end of the month, add up the costs and see who’s owed money by the other roommates.

Other possible expenses

Some other expected and unexpected costs may occur during your lease. To make things easier to manage when they happen, discuss these potential expenses when you move in. It might also be a good idea for you all to pitch in to an emergency fund so you have money set aside already. Here are some additional costs of renting to keep in mind:

  • Security deposit
  • Maintenance/grounds fee
  • Parking fee
  • Pet fee
  • Renters insurance
  • Emergency repairs

Home Sweet Home

Living with roommates can be a special time in life. To keep the atmosphere friendly, try sitting down and figuring out your living expenses early on. It may even be a good idea to write down the details in case someone forgets. This way, you can focus on better things like sharing moments and making memories.


The information in this article is provided for general education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. It is not intended to be and does not constitute financial, legal or any other advice specific to you the user or anyone else. The companies and individuals (other than OneMain Financial’s sponsored partners) referred to in this message are not sponsors of, do not endorse, and are not otherwise affiliated with OneMain Financial.