Monday, March 26, 2012

Bills You Should Split With Your Roommates

Jemima Lopez is a freelance blogger and writer who writes for Zen College Life, the directory of higher education, distance learning, and best online schools. She welcomes your comments at her email:

Moving from a college dorm to an on campus (or off campus) college apartment or house can be a pretty sweet upgrade for most students—you have a larger living space, your own room, you get to cook your own food and most importantly you get to split all the bills, which can potentially give you more money to do fun activities. While choosing to go fifty-fifty on all bills as well as living expenses such as groceries or even laundry detergent may initially seem like it will make everything cheaper in the end, unless you and your roommate(s) have the exact same "habits," you may just end up spending more money than you need to. In fact, disputing about finances can negatively affect the relationship you have with your roommate(s) so it's better to address that you may not want to spit all the bills from the beginning. But how do you know whether it's worth splitting or not? To get a better idea of which bills you may not want to split directly down the middle, continue reading below.....

Typically students who choose to move into a "student apartment" don't have a problem splitting rent in equal numbers since all of the rooms are of the same size. You each get the same sized closet, bathroom, everything. If this is the case of course you split evenly. However, if you choose to live in a non-student apartment or even a house where rooms are of different sizes, you should definitely try to negotiate a reduced rent price with your roommates if you don't end up with the master bedroom, or even worse, the smallest room in the place. Unless your roommate is the homeowner and gets to choose what he or she wants to charge people for rent, it might not be wise to let the roommate with the master bedroom pay the same amount as you. Especially because the master bedroom always comes with added perks like an attached bedroom and sometimes even a patio. If a roommate really wants the biggest room because they have more clothes and need the closet space for example, let him or her pay a few extra dollars for it.

Groceries can get expensive—even more so if you have a roommate that only likes certain products. For example, may be he or she only drinks sparkling water, eats only organic foods, and uses a special kind of laundry detergent or toilet paper. That's fine, but you're just the type looking for anything on sale. It's not really fair to pay half for a product(s) that you're not going to eat. Nor is it fair to buy half of the groceries when you have a roommate that eats them all up before you get to them. It might take a while to discover your roommate's eating habits, so go ahead a split the grocery bill a few times just to test the waters. If it seems like you're getting gipped, don't be afraid to tell your roommate, "I think it will be better if we keep the grocery bill separate and this is why (insert reason here)." Of course try to say it in a nice way to avoid any conflict.

Electricity/ Utilities
Finally, both of you are going to use lights and the heating and cooling system, but if you have a roommate that is careless about energy conservation—may be he or she leaves the lights and television on all day ( or night—some fall asleep with the lights on during the night) or may be chooses to blast the A/C or heater while you're gone, you shouldn't have to pay half of a sky high electricity bill due to your careless roommate. While it's hard to monitor the kilowatts that your roommate is using, it might be a good idea for you to suggest that the energy-hungry roommate puts the utility bill in his or her name. Typically a person is a lot more conscious and cares more about conservation when a utility bill is in their own name—after all they don't want to end up ruining their credit. This same idea can be applied to the cable bill if you know you're at school all day studying and catch up on your shows online.