Cheap roommates can take a toll on your wallet and your sanity. Living with other people requires accepting their habits, both good and bad, and finding where you need to draw the line. Although they might mean well, cheap roommates can end up taking advantage of you and not contributing to all household expenses. Setting clear boundaries and rules can ensure that everyone pays their part and that you maintain good relationships.
Set Ground Rules
To prevent disaster in your household, set ground rules about how expenses will be divided. List all the bills you will be responsible for paying. Write down exact amounts and the dates they are due. Agree that if someone doesn't pay on time, she will be responsible for penalties or late fees. To avoid conflict, give a copy of the payment record to each person. Decide whether to buy groceries together or individually. If each person will buy them on his own, agree to respect each other's supplies and food.
Be understanding of your roommates' financial situation. Ask yourself whether they are really being cheap or simply cannot afford the things that you want to buy. It might be upsetting that they don't want to pitch in for that expensive television or nice furniture, but keep in mind that they're probably struggling just to make the rent. When you live with roommates, decisions have to be made collectively. Make sure everyone is in agreement before making any purchases that will be divided among your roommates. If they don't agree, avoid buying it on your own. This will only create feelings of resentment or entitlement, and can lead to conflict.
Start a Household Fund
If you're roommates are cheap, you probably always find yourself buying the necessary household items. To avoid problems, set up a fund to buy common items, such as light bulbs, paper towels and cleaning supplies. Agree on a monthly amount that each person needs to contribute. Assign a different person each month to check what is needed and to buy it. You can also start funds for higher-priced items that you want to save up to buy, such as furniture or electronics.
Spread out payment responsibilities as much as possible so one person doesn't end up making all the payments and needing to be reimbursed by others. If your landlord allows it, place all names on the lease so everyone has equal responsibility if someone defaults on the rent. If possible, arrange to each pay his part of the rent to the landlord or set up automatic transfers to the responsible party.
- Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images