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It’s common knowledge that having a roommate is fiscally smart. Right?

Well, maybe.

If you and your roommate behave like responsible individuals, you could save yourself a lot of money. If you don’t share expenses fairly, one of you could suffer a severe financial hit.

Where do these expenses come in? Let’s break it down.

Rent

While rent seems like the most obvious area where you save money by having a roommate, think again. Even if you’ve paid your half, sometimes it doesn’t matter. If your roommate doesn’t pay, you could be forced to make up the difference. And your landlord doesn’t care which one of you owes your portion of the rent. They just want to be paid on time.

Damage

Sometimes it can get blurry when there’s not a clear idea of who owns what. Figuring out ownership of personal property up front can diffuse a lot of tension down the road. This is especially true when things break.

Food

Sharing groceries can certainly have its positives. Determining early on who is responsible for covering which items is a great way to avoid this problem. Or, if you want to opt out of the communal food situation, set borders in the refrigerator and pantry. And, well, good luck with that.

Basically, you don’t want to become the roommate who is expected to buy the milk every week. So, have a chat about something as simple as milk before you sign the lease.

Long-Term Guests

We all know how it goes. When the roommate’s friend goes from staying over once or twice a week to the full seven days, it’s like having another roommate. This can come with costs. If they’re showering every morning and eating through your pantry, you can unknowingly start paying for their personal hygiene and appetite. It may be awkward, but you may need to set boundaries early on.

Utilities

If you’ve got a roommate who leaves lights on, takes lengthy showers, or keeps the air conditioner blasting all day while no one is home, the utility bill will be higher than it needs to be. Same thing goes with cable television or Internet access. Perhaps you want the bare minimum and your roommate is looking to surf a million channels and endlessly stream movies. Finding a compromise on things like room temperature, light usage, and cable is a great way to avoid unnecessary costs.

Our suggestion? Get a savings account up and running so you can start putting money away toward a place of your own. Even better, you can set up your account to receive automatic deposits to make life a little easier. Then you can enjoy your own fully stocked refrigerator – without setting up borders.

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