How to talk about finances with your roommate

Mackenzie Smith, Columnist

It’s about a month into the school semester, and for some, a month into a lease with a new roommate. Ideally you would want to talk to your roommate about money and other more serious topics before moving in together, but ideally pizza would reheat well in the microwave. 

Winter is coming, and without a talk, things could get heated about the gas bill.

Here are some things to keep in mind to ease into the tough topic of finance:

1. Don’t assume 

Platonic roommates tend to split things evenly down the middle, so it’s easy to assume  that is what you are going to do. However, sometimes things like someone getting a bigger bedroom than the other, someone doing more chores than the other or someone constantly having their significant other stay over can complicate the issue. 

2. Don’t surprise them 

 Surprises and money are almost always a bad idea. Try bringing up the topic the next time you are paying bills, so money is fresh in everyone’s mind and you don’t shock your roommate into defensiveness. Money is an easy topic for some and hard for others, so don’t bring it up over Starbucks on a girls day out if it’s something that could make the other uncomfortable. 

3. Be specific 

 Ambiguity is another thing that doesn’t mix well with finance. If someone is going to pay more of the heating costs because they prefer it warmer, then how much more are they going to pay? 

4. Be honest 

Nothing makes a housing arrangement more tense than lying about money. If you say something, you need to stick to it. Holding yourself accountable gives you credibility for when you ask the same of your roommate.

5. Don’t pry 

How they are paying for college, if their parents are helping them out with groceries and how much they are budgeting on spending vs. saving isn’t your problem. Unless it directly affects their ability to pay rent or shared utilities, it may be best to leave it out of the conversation. Asking a roommate to pay more simply because they seem to be better off is a taboo better left unbroken.

 6. Go in with a to do list 

How much you can afford, where you can save and any other questions are better thought out beforehand to make sure you don’t forget to mention something.

7. Write everything down 

Writing down what you agreed on makes sure that everyone is accountable to what was agreed on without any misremembering causing friction.

For other helpful finance know-how geared especially towards college students, visit It’s free!