Happy housemates: how to manage expenses without the drama

Getting a new flatmate can be all fun and games until the bills start rolling in. As much as you may enjoy someone’s company, things change when moula’s involved. After all, if you’re ordering one less Bloody Mary because you’re covering that bloke’s bulk of rent, there’s going to be issues! So, drink up!

Here are some tips to help you and your flatmates manage the expenses without the drama.

Set ground rules

Look at a flatmate situation like you would any other intimate relationship. Whether you’re getting married or starting to date someone, you set ground rules. That way, both parties are in agreement about what’s going on. The same can be said for your living situation.

Sure, you’re not sharing a bed with your flatmate (and if you are, go you!). However, you’re still eating, showering, and doing your business in close quarters. Therefore, you need to be clear how living together is going to work.

Obviously, the big elephant in the room is shared expenses. Go into the situation knowing how much your flatmate can cough up each month. If your housemate needs the fastest internet known to humankind and you don’t think you can afford it, speak up. They might be willing to split the difference.

This also goes for living spaces. Australian savings expert, Kylie Travers, says, “Most properties have a master with a larger wardrobe, more space and often an ensuite. All those things together can equate to $50 or more a week in value.”

Airing these concerns before moving in allows an open line of discussion. Figuring out what people value in a home and what they’re willing to pay for ensures that every person enters the new household happily.

Lastly, have a clear understanding of the break down in utilities ownership and how the person responsible will be reimbursed. Will someone put it on their card each month? Perhaps you can set up a housemates group on Finch to track shared expenses? Whichever you decide, make sure it’s crystal clear and there’s no misunderstanding.

Create ongoing bill reminders

When done right, having a housemate should save you money. According to a recent study, splitting the average rent in Melbourne with a flatmate you should save around $6,700 per year. So, if you’re not on the plus side of things, you’re doing something wrong.

An excellent way to avoid this awkward tension is to set up ongoing bill reminders.

Here are a few options:

  • Google calendars – schedule reminders ahead of time to your group
  • Hang up a whiteboard or a corkboard with the bill total, due date and what’s owed
  • Set up recurring expenses for your housemate group on an app like Finch

Track shared expenses centrally

In addition to rent and bills, there are all sorts of household spending: toilet paper, Netflix, a late night Macca’s run. Finch is the easiest way to share group expenses without losing track of who owes what. Simply add to the tab, split the expense any way you like and settle up as you go.