According to a report by the Pew Research Center, more and more adults are sharing a home with other adults with whom they're not romantically involved, a situation known as shared living. From homesharing, to renting an apartment with a roommate, to living with parents, there are lots of situations in which adults across Canada and the United States are living in a shared household. In fact, in 2017 in the United States, nearly 79 million adults (or 31.9% of the adult population) lived in a shared household.
Depending on your shared living situation, you may find yourself sharing expenses. If so, then it's important to ensure there's mutual clarity on responsibilities and expectations. If you're part of a homeshare arrangement, then It's a good idea to include details around shared expenses in your homeshare agreement. Whatever your situation, here are some important tips to help ensure expenses are shared fairly while also supporting the financial wellbeing of everyone involved.
1. Discuss your financial personality
When it comes to money, each of us has our own unique approach and habits. It's a good idea to discuss this topic with your potential housemate before entering a shared living arrangement. Having this discussion early on will ensure you have a similar approach to money or ensure you're both aware of each other's financial approach, so you know what you're getting into ahead of time. Simple.com suggests answering these questions together to help you initiate this discussion:
Do you get paid on a regular schedule, or sporadically?
Is your income consistent, or does it ebb and flow?
Do you consider yourself to be responsible with money?
Do you like to automate your finances, or pay everything manually?
What do we consider to be shared household expenses?
What kinds of things should we save for together, in case of emergency?
2. Discuss your financial expectations
What are your expectations about shared finances beyond the obvious expenses like rent and electricity? Have an open and honest conversation about how you see the shared living arrangement working and that understanding will shed light on which expenses could be shared.
For example, let's say one person in the household has a vehicle, but is willing to provide transportation to the other members of the household as well as pick up groceries and run errands. In this situation you may want to discuss splitting a percentage of the cost of gas, parking or even car insurance.
Make sure you set a date to review these expectations after you've started living together to ensure your expectations are on par with reality.
3. Create a monthly budget for your shared expenses
Next, sit down and work on a budget for the expenses you'll share, which often include:
Rent or mortgage payments
Maintenance or HOA fees
Water and electricity bills
Internet, phone and/or cable bills
Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Music, etc.
Household expenses like light bulbs and batteries
Hygiene products (like toilet paper)
Shared groceries (for those sharing food)
Shared larger items like vacuum cleaners, furniture
Security features like cameras or alarms
A shared emergency fund for unexpected expenses of those expenses you haven't thought of.
4. How will you manage shared finances?
There are lots of different ways to divide shared bills with your housemates. Three common systems include:
One person remains responsible for collecting money from the other members of the household and then paying the bills.
Each household member assumes responsibility for different bills and then everyone settles inequalities at the end of the week or month.
Each member of the household contributes a predetermined amount to a shared account that is used to pay shared expenses.
These are certainly not the only systems out there – but whatever system you end up using make sure that you carefully weigh it's pros and cons and have regular discussions about whether the system is working well and if not, how you can improve it.
If you have questions about homesharing or are interested in learning more about the benefits of a shared living arrangement, give the team at HomeShare Alliance a call. We're here to answer your questions and love connecting householders with the right housemates.