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The art of saving with a roommate

The art of saving with a roommate

By André Le Roux, Bank Windhoek’s Public Relations Manager

In an effort to save that extra dollar, many of us decide on taking in a roommate or take on the responsibility of shared accommodation.

Be it a friend, family member or a stranger, a roommate will help you cut expenses and costs significantly, if both parties manage joint finances responsibly. At the outset, it is important to set ground rules of who needs to pay for what, how expenses should be split and by when certain bills should be paid.

It is important for you to have a preliminary discussion about financial expectations. Each person must be clear about who is responsible for settling what, for instance, utilities, television and internet subscriptions. As a rule-of-thumb, all expenses are to be split equally, this includes rent.

Assuming you live in an apartment with equal-sized bedrooms where everyone gets the same amount of living and sleeping space, the cost of rent should be split evenly among the occupants.

Things get trickier, however, if you live in an apartment with a master bedroom or where one bedroom has amenities.

Then negotiation becomes important. For example, the person in the main bedroom may be asked to pay more per month based on their increased living area, or you may ask the person in the master to split the rent but cover the monthly water bill in full.

Agreeing to these terms together will be the key to harmonious living and eliminates any resentment down the line.

Another important aspect of living together is to draw up a budget and be transparent about the bills that will be shared.

Typically, joint budget items are where both parties benefit from paying services such as utilities, internet subscription, household expenses namely cleaning materials, a domestic worker, gardener and security services. That way, you can be clear about your respective contributions.

One potential problem that should be discussed is avoiding one person overusing a utility that can raise the bill. You can discuss limits to every spending category that you identified as a joint bill item.

That way, you can both be in agreement about your monthly consumption. It will help in saving money because you can keep yourselves from overspending.

Do not just concentrate on the utility bills. Another tip is to have regular discussions about not just joint budgeting, but about other aspects that affect your living arrangements, such as socialising at home, privacy issues, household chores and potentially adjusting each other’s responsibilities and living habits.

Following some of these tips could result in living with roommates being one of the best experiences of your adult life and definitely help you to build your nest egg for your financially independent future.

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A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.