- October 3, 2022
- Posted by General Electric Credit Union
- 3 read
School Your Finances: 5 Money Tips for College Roommates
Sometimes, learning to live with another person can feel as difficult as memorizing an algebra equation – but it doesn’t have to be! If you’re renting with a college roommate for the first time, there are best practices to help you maintain harmony and responsibly manage your finances in undergrad, together.
Money tips 101 for college roommates
1. Keep necessities top of mind
The freedom of living on campus comes with temptations to spend at restaurants, stores, and other establishments. While it’s OK to treat yourself and have fun, it’s important for both you and your roommate to have enough set aside for monthly shared necessities. This includes rent, utilities, and rental insurance (which some landlords require). Both of you should create a personal budget to ensure you’re prepared to cover the cost of these expenses.
2. Split bills
You and your roommate will need to decide how bills are split up. For example, maybe you pay for the internet and streaming services while your roommate pays for something with a comparable price tag, like the water bill. Another option is to split every bill. This may be difficult to keep track of, so use apps like Splitwise or Zelle to stay on top of things.
3. Pay smarter
Bill Pay1 is a tool that completely streamlines the payment process. With it, you’ll no longer have to use excel spreadsheets or password managers to remember login information to multiple sites, because your electronic bills – and the ability to pay them – are all available through one dashboard.
You can even set up automatic payments and reminders, so payments are always on time and taken care of. Reminders are particularly helpful because they may prompt you to review your budget and adjust spending habits to prepare for the cost. This will keep you from incurring a checking account overdraft fee because you know the funds are there.
Don’t assume your roommate has something covered. Communicate expectations and responsibilities in advance to keep misunderstandings to a minimum. Not only will this make for a healthier relationship, but it will also ensure your financial ducks are in a row and help you avoid service cutoffs or late payments – especially for things like rent.
5. Buy big-ticket items separately
While items like TVs, couches, and mini fridges can get expensive, it may not make sense to split the cost of them with a roommate. Whether you plan to live with them for a year, or for the entirety of your undergrad, you may eventually move on and want to live alone, with another roommate, or with a significant other. When this time comes, it may be difficult to decide who gets to take what, and you may even forget how much you paid for the items to begin with. Instead, shop solo to keep everything simple and straightforward.
College is an exciting time of learning, self-discovery, and relationship building. Make the most of it by automating bill payments and budgeting. Money Management is a complimentary budgeting tool offered to General Electric Credit Union (GECU) Online Banking and mobile app users. Once your accounts are linked (both GECU and outside accounts!), the intuitive dashboard gives you a complete picture of your finances. Track spending, goals, and debt payoff to improve your financial well-being. Plus, set up Bill Pay in minutes to responsibly manage bills and keep your relationship with roommate(s) wrinkle-free! Not a GECU member yet? You can become one if you attend school in select Ohio, Indiana, or Kentucky counties. Bearcats, Musketeers, and more are welcome!