Whether you’re moving out of the family home to go to uni or to just to gain some independence, it’s an exciting time. Yeah, you do have to do your own washing and cooking BUT you’re free to come and go as you please and if you want to make pancakes when you get in at 2am and set off the smoke alarm in the process, you can!
PLUS, you get to live with someone (or some people) who is your age and shares your interests!
What could POSSIBLY go wrong?
Well, there are a few things……I remember washing up and cleaning became such an issue that we once created an OFFICIAL rota (YUP!) but the issue I want to talk about here is money.
Yup, it’s a touchy subject for everyone but if you don’t discuss some ground rules on day one with your flatmates, you run the risk of falling out with them within the first month of living together.
Need some examples to convince you why there could be a problem here?
Let’s start with food. Unless you like all of the same things and will be cooking together every night, you’re probably going to shop separately. But does that mean you’re going to have two bottles of milk and two tubs of butter in the fridge? What about fruit? Are you going to have two fruit bowls? Two loaves of bread? Do you even have room for that? Maybe you will share after all, but then how do you work out if you’re splitting everything equally? Count the tea bags? I know I sound crazy here but even the most laid back people get to this point when money is tight, trust me.
And what about bills? Does one person pay them and then the other person transfers money to their account each month? How do you set up a system to ensure this does happen every single month without delay? NOBODY likes to chase their mates for cash.
What if you don’t even know your new housemates that well? Perhaps you found them on the internet. You have no idea how good they are with money!
Have I made my point about the financial stresses of a flatmate? Ok good.
Well let’s look at how you can avoid these issues, simply and fairly, so you don’t go running back to mama two months in. Hurrah!
Here is FeastStyleThrive’s guide to handling flatshare finances:
1. Communication is key.
Make it clear, in a non-scary way, that to avoid hassle, you want to get the bill and money chat out the way at the very beginning and schedule a time to sit down with them and go through it all. You need their agreement for this to work so make sure they’re up for it. And make sure the meeting happens asap!
2. Cover all areas.
Together, go through all the bills and costs that you will incur in the flat, both big and small. This should cover everything from utilities, council tax and internet, to cleaning supplies, toilet paper and weekly groceries.
3. Be reasonable.
Identify what you can split evenly – toilet roll is included in this, regardless of what gender you are(!) – and which items can’t be shared and therefore must be bought separately.
4. Take responsibility.
Try to split roles fairly. Rather than one person paying all of the bills, can they be shared? It will help your credit rating if you’re a registered billpayer! Obviously whoever pays less, ends up paying the balance to their flatmate to make it even. Also share the shopping responsibility where possible.
5. Make a record of what has been agreed.
This must include not only who is paying for what, but also on which dates of the month the payments will be made.
6. Don’t fester.
If you feel like an element of the plan isn’t working, then aim to discuss it, calmly, with your flatmate as soon as possible. It can then be resolved quickly and easily without any arguments.
7. Sort all of the above with science!
Yep, it’s true there is an app for everything, even managing finances with your flatmates.
Splittable is an app which lets you and your housemates split all bills and everyday expenses (even nights out!). It then keeps track and tells you who’s paid for what and who still owes money. It also shows you what payments are coming up so you don’t get caught out.
All you have to do is download the app, sign up and then invite your flatmates. You can then start logging bill or cost details and who is taking responsibility for what.
An easy way of establishing a fair and reliable way of managing shared finances, leaving you to enjoy your freedom!
Have you experienced any financial stresses of a flatmate or awkward situations with housemates? How did you overcome them?