Last week, we talked about bad roommates. Some epic storytelling occurred right here on these pages. If you didn’t see it, I recommend a read through.
This week, I want to let you in on a little secret to roommate harmony: The House Account.
I’ve lived with roommates for 6 and 1/2 years. Over that time, I’ve had 5 different roommates which, when you think about it, is remarkably stable.
That said, we’ve gone through some money frustration:
Stan owes me $120 for covering him when his car got towed and Eric owes me $27 for the heating bill last month, but I owe Stan $55 for cable and Eric $17 because he made a run to BJs for house staples.
Meanwhile, we have rent coming up and Stan already told me he’s going to be a few days late, which means the landlord’s going to call me and ask about it.
All the while, we’re marking our food in the fridge and it’s really pissing us off when someone (no one knows who, but we all have suspects!) drank our milk/OJ/purple stuff.
I’m sure everyone with roommates is nodding their heads. Dividing expenses is a nightmare when you’re dealing with more than one quasi-adult learning how to live away from mommy and daddy.
A couple years ago my roommates and I sat down and adopted a new strategy.
We opened a joint checking account in all of our names. Now, once a month we each deposit our rent plus an extra sum to cover our bills, groceries and any other house related expenses (these don’t always need to be drudgery expenses, sometimes we’ll go out to dinner on the house) and then we just pay out for the month.
- No haggling, waiting to pay back, massive calculations of debts owed.
- Simple bill paying.
- Debit cards mean that all roommates can do errands for the house at their convenience without reimbursement entering the picture.
- Rent is paid for in one check, which just makes life easier.
- No one’s food gets stolen because it’s all ours!
What to think about before you do this:
- You need to trust your roommates pretty strongly – I wouldn’t do this with Craig’s List roommates I met at the coffee shop once before I met them.
- This is not necessarily a money saver. It can, in fact, cost you more because you and your roommates might feel like they’re buying with someone else’s money. If you want to save money, there are other ways.
- Someone needs to play banker to figure out what the monthly payment is, pay bills and otherwise track expenditure.
I’ll be back next week with another Roommate Horror Story.
For now, let me know what you think and please post other roommate harmony strategies in the comments!