by Stephanie Berenbaum – November 11, 2010
Money, Friendship & Paying Your Fair Share
Anyone who has ever had a roommate will tell you the same thing: though great for saving money, it can also put your friendship to a serious test! We’ve seen perfectly sane people turn into Lifetime movie – worthy crazies because of a bad roommate situation. And it’s no surprise that one of the leading causes of roommate strife is MONEY. Yes, it’s hard to live with other people – and even harder to agree on finances!
Depending on your budget and where you live, living alone may simply not be an option-hello Manhattanites! So, what can you do to keep the peace?
I lived with my dear friend Mel for almost ten years in a ramshackle, rent controlled apartment in NYC. We are still the best of friends. I learned a lot from the success of our partnership about what makes a roommate situation work – and saw from many of our friends what DOESN’T!
Back when Mel and I lived together this stuff didn’t exist. Mel took charge of organizing the bills, and wrote it all out in a charts on the kitchen counter (thank you Mel!) But today roommates have some high tech options to help them out when it comes to splitting the bill! Our friends at Learnvest turned us on to the Billshare program. Though it may seem a little impersonal to actually automate your shared expenses, we think it’s a fantastic idea. Billshare takes the interpersonal arguments out of the equation and shows everyone what they owe in simple black and white!
Share & Share Alike?
Financial troubles can arise in ways other than just how the phone bill is split. What about food? Alice may not think anything of helping herself to Kate’s bananas – and Kate might not mind at first either. But the morning when Kate wakes up and finds all her bananas gone, she may start to go, well, a little bananas! It may seem like just an apple here and there, but remember- a little courtesy goes a long way. Our motto: Ask first – and replenish often! A five dollar fruit investment now may save a lot of hurt feelings and resentment down the road.
What’s the 411?
Speaking of phone bills, make sure to discuss the ground rules for financial ‘extras’ such as 411 calls, long distance plans, internet, etc. Or maybe your roommate plans on only using their cell phone and won’t want to pay for traditional or cable phone service at all?
What’s on TV?
Aside from the phone, you also need to discuss the television! Decide up front if you’re going to stream Hulu onto your own computers, or if someone wants premium cable services and the other does not. Split the bill accordingly!
It is a big mistake to assume that just because you are addicted to Weeds, and want to order Showtime, that your roommate will want to pay for it as well! Always keep the lines of communication honest and open. If your roommie finds that she suddenly can’t get enough Nurse Jackie, it’s time for her to face facts and start splitting the entire bill with you!| Print
Pages: 1 2