Managing money with roommates takes communication

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In coming to college, most students find themselves living with others.

Living together can become especially hard when trying to divvy up who pays for what and when. The electric bill can’t have six people’s names on it, and you can’t split a couch in two after everyone goes their separate ways.

“I think the biggest mistake that people make with roommates, in general, is they don’t talk,” said Anthony de Gaston, a sophomore accounting major from Chicago.

Gaston said when his roommates first met each other, they made plans of who would be in charge of certain purchases.

“We basically sat down and said ‘O.K., you’ll buy dish soap for this amount of time and you’ll buy toilet paper,’” Gaston said.

Eria Smith, a junior communication major from Pasadena, said when it comes to products and groceries, it might be best for everyone to buy their own.

“It’s best not to messy everything up with groceries when you already have to worry about utilities and rent,” Smith said.

Costs like furniture, rent and utilities can become a little more complex when trying to split them among six people. Smith said although everyone should buy their own groceries and toiletries, splitting the cost of furniture just leads to conflict.

“The key to managing finances as roommates is sitting down and discussing it with them,” said Helen Saar, assistant professor of finance. “For example, if you buy a couch for $400 and each of your roommates pays $100 for it, you have to talk about what happens if someone moves out or where the money goes. It’s tricky.”

Smith said for her, it’s better for people to buy what they want to take with them when they move away.

Rasband said sharing the cost of an apartment is always nice because you’re saving money, having to rely on others is a big part of sharing apartments that scare people away.

“You have to come up with a set amount you’re each willing to pay,” said Joshua Rasband, a sophomore nursing major from Sandy.

Rasband said it’s nice to have cheaper rent, but you have to be careful who you trust.

“There are people who will swear up and down that they can pay and they will pay,” Rasband said. “But sometimes they will leave half way through the lease with no notice or they will just keep pushing [paying their rent] off.”

Rasband also said there’s no need to be passive-aggressive with roommates when they do something that makes you mad or when they owe you money.

“I’ve seen a lot of people putting memes over sinks for their roommates to do their dishes,” Rasband said. “I think if you go to that person and tell them what’s wrong or ask for the money they owe you, everything will go more smoothly.”

Rasband said the one piece of advice he would give anyone who is thinking about sharing an apartment with others can be used for anyone worrying about money.

“Especially don’t lend money to people you live with unless you know they’re going to pay you back,” Rasband said.

Saar said one of the major problems with budgets it that they need to be written out. She said apps like “Mint” are the best to help with budgeting.

“The problem with budgets is consistency,” Saar said. “I’ve had students who’ve had trouble — they go to a seminar about budgeting when they’re freshmen, but they never follow through with their budgets later.”

If you don’t sit down and discuss the budget with your roommates, the worst-case scenario is losing money and your roommates getting mad at you, she said.

“[Budgeting] is not a game,” Saar said. “This is not Monopoly money. This is real life.”