It is true that having your own apartment can be incredibly liberating! But for many of us — especially those of us living in cities where the real estate market is essentially laughing at us — this is not an option. For the time being, a large majority of the “new renter” population will have to make do with roommates. Having a roommate is increasingly popular among millennials simply because this is the easiest way to cut your expenses and tighten your budget.
Living with roommates you don’t know is always less fun than sharing a space with your friends, but no one said you can’t have a good relationship with your neighbors and help each other to save some money.
Life with roommates can be a profitable venture, but in order to see that return, you should always be open to compromise. Be prepared to split the house responsibilities down the centre so your household can run more efficiently.
Use Wholesale Accounts
Costco is not just for big families anymore. Having a membership in a wholesale store is actually great when you live with roommates.
When you buy everything in bulk, you always get a decent discount and the pricing becomes more attractive. So the best option for you and your roommates will be completing a full list of the products and groceries you all need and buying everything in one store using your membership pricing.
Choose Who Manages the Budget
If you know for sure that you tend to waste your money on things you can avoid consuming or buying, you and your roommates can start your group budget.
This kind of business requires a high level of trust in each other; enough to allow someone to handle your money. However, having one budget for various household expenses, including groceries, can significantly boost the contents of your wallet, and allow you to organize your finances ahead of time. When you choose one person to handle all matters related to money, you ensure that every expense will be documented and reported. It means that you will be able to see where your money is going and how it’s being managed.
Some of you will say that it’s kind of a big burden for someone to watch a common budget and write down the expenses. In this case, it is recommended that you schedule and change the guy/girl in charge of money once per month, or once per quarter. As a bonus, you can have a small separate budget where you all chip in and use the money later for a common journey or a party, but that’s totally optional, and it all depends on how much money you want to save.
Cook at Home and Establish a Meal Plan
Since you’ve decided that you want to save money, you’ve got to understand that spontaneous visits to your favorite restaurant or café are not the best option for your new meal plan. Turning around the habit of eating out and cooking on your own will save you a lot of money. Living with roommates will definitely help, because now you can cook and share dinner together.
If you can fit it into your budget, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself once in a while, but be weary of falling into a pattern.
Buy Snacks in Advance
There is nothing more painful for your budget than constantly spending money on expensive treats and snacks. We all know how this happens, and how easy it is to buy something tasty while watching a movie or working on a project.
When you decide that you need a snack and go out on a search to the closest store in your neighborhood, you can be sure that you’ll spend more than necessary. When it happens once, you won’t really feel it, but your debit card will.
Incorporating snacks for the whole week (including weekends) on your grocery shopping list will help you avoid those unexpected sweet tooth cravings.
Share One Netflix Account
Netflix is a great and cheap alternative to the cable TV. Yes, you won’t be able to watch the latest episode of Colbert live, but you’ll still be able to access a huge library of awesome movies, Netflix Originals and TV shows.
These days, having a Netflix account is a must. The coolest thing about it is that Netflix allows you to create profiles for each roommate, family member or friend.
You can chip in and pay for one account, create a few taste profiles, and everyone will enjoy great movies and shows for only a few dollars per month.
Exchange Furniture With Each Other
Every roommate will have their own decoration ideas for their own rooms. Since most of the times we tend to move into the furnished place, your roommates may have chairs, tables or other furniture that won’t fit the room’s design. Need a chair? Talk to one of your roommates, chances are he/she has one that will fit nicely in your room. It’s a win-win situation: you’ll get the desired chair, and your roommate will get extra space in their room.
Share Furniture and Decor Expenses
Common areas, like the kitchen and living room are a different story. Since these are shared spaces, it is important to collaborate with and include every member of the household. This is where you decided collectively how money should be spent and who should purchase what. But make sure everyone has a vote here if you want to avoid bad feelings and possible confrontation.
The internal debate of living with roommates vs. living alone tends to be a never-ending one. But if you can find some pretty awesome strangers with the same (or similar) financial goals, you can take advantage of the opportunity to save money and get a head start on your future.
Originally published in Rentberry.