You rather miss your privacy, watching all of your favorite shows, and knowing that you’ll get to eat that last piece of cake. But having a roommate has saved you a wad a cash, right? Um, well, maybe. Sharing accommodations can benefit you financially–if you have the right roommate and “roommate agreement” in place.
If you’re wondering if surrendering control over the TV remote–and foregoing that last slice of Betty Crocker heaven–is worth it, here are a few things to keep in mind.
If you have split the rent in half or based it on square footage, you will want to ask yourself how much it would cost you to live on your own. If a bachelor apartment would cost you only slightly less that your half of the fancy two-bedroom number you’re in now, you will need to determine how much sacrificing your privacy is worth. If the savings is sizeable, however, you may just want to suck it up and buy more cake mix.
How much you save in rent is also largely dependent on your roommate’s character and level of financial responsibility. If both of your names are on the lease and your roomie decides to forgo paying their share, the landlord can come after you to collect it. Yes, you could wind up paying the full rent and having to watch your roommate’s lousy choice of shows.
In a perfect world, both you and your roommate will desire the same room temperature, cable TV packages, and amount of internet usage. But the world is not perfect and you and your roommate are not clones. Yes, splitting the utilities can save you money, but there may be times when one person–yes, that means you–will get the short end of the stick.
If one person likes Saharan temperatures in the winter and an Arctic freeze in the summer and the other prefers to conserve energy, the one who uses the most electricity should pay a heftier chunk of the bill. And, if you are frequently baking cakes, and your roommate rarely flicks on an appliance, you need to pay for that.
Yahoo Finance’s “5 Hidden Costs of Having Roommates” adds that if one person insists on getting premium cable to watch HBO or HGTV and the other doesn’t want to pay for it, those issues need to be hashed out upfront.
It may make sense to split on the necessities like milk, eggs, and sugar. But, then again, with you baking all those cakes, it hardly seems fair. The truth is that splitting food costs can often lead to more problems than it’s worth.
“How to Manage Bills with a Roommate” warns against sharing food costs as it can blur boundaries, but recommends that if you do want to purchase food together, do so in three steps–have your roommate pay for their items, you pay for yours, and then you split on the items that you are going to share. This way you can enjoy some savings without fighting over who owns what.
Interestingly, the amount of savings that you will enjoy by having a roommate is also dependent on the city in which you live. Yup, you could be giving up your privacy for nothing.
This infographic courtesy of Mint.com’s “Should You Get a Roommate” will let you know whether or not you need to reconsider sharing your space.
You should now be much better equipped to decide whether you are, in fact, saving money by having a roommate. If you aren’t, it’s high time that you took back your remote. And that last piece of cake.
Have you had a hair-raising or hair-pulling experience with a roommate? We’d love to hear your story.