Sharing your Dallas apartment with a roommate or two can be a great arrangement, but figuring out how to divvy up the bills can sometimes be challenging. The fact is, it’s not always as easy as just splitting everything 50/50, and different people have different viewpoints and practices when it comes to budgeting and spending. Establishing some guidelines in advance can help prevent disagreements, misunderstandings and financial issues from arising down the road. Below, our apartment locating experts draw off their decades of experience to offer some pro tips for budgeting shared expenses.
Create a plan and commit to it.
The goal of creating a budget in advance is to help keep the peace for the long-term. This requires that everyone involved be on the same page and happy, or at least comfortable with the plan. However you choose to divvy things up, whether it be each roommate taking a particular bill or splitting all bills proportionately, make sure these details are all hammered out and fully agreed upon before moving forward.
Future problems can easily be avoided if you try to anticipate what issues may come up down the road. For example, let’s say you decide that each roommate will take one or two utility bills. Anticipating in advance the possibility of one utility being overused can help you plan for how to prevent an issue down the road. So, you may agree that the A/C will be kept at a certain temperature to prevent the electric bill from skyrocketing disproportionately.
Decide what expenses are worth sharing.
Obviously, not every expense will make sense to share/budget for. Some things are more subjective and therefore more difficult for more than one party to agree to. For instance, everyone has their own taste and preferences on things like décor and furniture. Agreeing to split the cost of such items may not work in situations where one roommate has more expensive taste than the other(s). Therefore, it might make more sense to stick with the more straightforward bills, like rent and utilities.
Consider the unexpected.
From time to time, expenses may arise unexpectedly, such as repairs, rental increases or unforeseen fees. It’s a good idea to decide in advance how these unplanned expenses will be divided if and when they do come up. Ideally, setting aside a little extra each week or month can help cushion the blow and prevent these last-minute costs from causing financial hardship.
It may seem like an unnecessary extra step, but keeping track of all your expenses can come in handy should any questions or concerns arise throughout your tenancy. Having a record of the bills that have been incurred and paid can also be helpful in case you decide to audit things down the road. For example, you might decide to revisit your budget agreement annually to make sure everyone is still paying his or her fair share. Having all of the details handy can make this step infinitely easier.
Sharing your living space with someone else can be an excellent way to save money, but if you’re not careful, financial disagreements could erode an otherwise perfect arrangement. The budgeting tips above should help keep the atmosphere in your home happy, peaceful and respectful.