How to live with roommates

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Whether you’re heading back to school or looking to save some cash—moving in with a roommate brings its own unique set of benefits and challenges. Whatever your experience, you can’t deny that living with roommates can make good financial sense. Rent tends to be cheaper, your water and heating costs are shared, and you can split the cost of things like furniture and appliances.

But, living with roommates can also come with its fair share of unexpected expenses that may leave your wallet a little lighter than expected. If you’re looking for ways to keep your budget intact while living with roomies, check out these tips.

Talk it out first

Every house will operate differently, but whether you’re best friends or total strangers, it’s always a good idea to sit down with your roommates before move-in day and talk through the financial side of things. Make a list of all your fixed monthly expenses like rent, utilities (average) and Wi-Fi and split the total cost equally between each roommate. This will create a monthly rhythm and avoid anyone feeling like they’re paying a higher share each month. Designate one roommate to be the payee and set a clear date for the monthly transfer of funds. And remember, nothing gets paid off until everyone pays up.

Set your social boundaries (and budget)

Living with roommates can mean the pressure is on to go out and have fun. But resist the FOMO as best you can and your wallet will thank you. Replace downtown excursions with cheaper options like cooking dinner together, a wine tasting at home, or a movie night in. You’re paying all that rent for your place, you may as well enjoy it!

Take the awkward out of splitting bills

With Request Money, Interac e-Transfer functionality, you never have to worry about the awkward conversations about getting your roomie to pay their bills on time. Easily request money you are owed by adding due dates to payments and the requested money can automatically be added to your account. For your roommates, there is the added convenience of not needing to text you the security answer to the payment.

Shop together, check out alone

Although it might not make sense to have four separate cartons of milk in the fridge, buying all your groceries as a team can get confusing. Different people have different preferences, allergies, and appetites, which makes it nearly impossible to shop for everybody in one cart. Go to the grocery store together, but buy your own food. And if you want to cook meals together some nights, add those ingredients to your group cart and no one will be left paying more.

Share what you can

There are some everyday costs that you may be incurring that could easily be split up between roommates. If you’re using coin-operated laundry, try and do your laundry together to save some spare change. Or if you each have your own Netflix account (or other shareable subscriptions), cut it down to one and share the bill. Try to see if you can share a Wi-Fi router with neighbours. Splitting the costs can mean big savings for everyone.

We may not be able to mediate during a roommate disagreement, but we have services for when the bills are due. Reach out to your local credit union to learn more about products and services to make the financial side of living arrangements easier.