How to Split Costs with Roommates

splitting the bill

Like toilet paper, a microwave and some curtains, roommates are usually a move-in necessity when you get your own place. Housing’s expensive. Fortunately, there are plenty of costs that can be split with roommates in order to make the living situation more affordable.

Costs to Consider

Obviously, the number one cost roommates split is rent. You’ll also be splitting utilities in addition to subtle costs like the aforementioned TP or dish soap. You have probably budgeted for rent, utilities, and even groceries. But necessities for the bathroom or the kitchen? Those expenses really add up.

Split or not to Split?

You’ll obviously never ask a roommate to share some expenses with you—like a Hello Kitty pillow for your own bed for instance. It’s also not good form to expect roomies to pitch in on something that you plan on keeping for yourself after you move out.  However, anything that will be shared or used by everyone in the living arrangement should be split. Stuff like:

Services: Services like internet and utilities are usually best split evenly. Keep a list of all shared bills somewhere accessible to everyone and agree beforehand on how you’ll split them. One strategy is to take turns each month writing the check and have a second check on hand to give to your roommate for your half when it isn’t your turn to officially pay.

Items: Shared items, like toilet paper or dish soap, can be jointly paid for easily. Keep a shared list on the fridge of items that you both need and use. Each roommate is free to take the list and go make the purchases. Put the receipt up in place of the completed list. Agree ahead of time on how long after the receipt is up each roommate has to pitch in for their half or fair proportion.

Making the Arrangements

To avoid fallout with roommates, it is important that every person in the living space has an understanding of the arrangement and agrees to it. Sometimes roommates really don’t like splitting costs and insist on having separate rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom.

Ensure that every party is accountable and understand expectations by creating a formal agreement when you move in together. The following template is easy to work off.


Names of Residents:________________________________________________.


Basic Agreement: E.g. We agree to live at this address, together, until this date:____________.

During this time, we will split all costs according to the following list. It is agreed by all parties that bills will be paid on time. When costs that are supposed to be split are paid by one person, any portions unpaid by the other person(s) must be paid back within three days.

-Rent, Electric Bill, Internet Fees: 50/50.

-DirectTV: 70/30 (ie. Jan/Jessica).

-Toilet Paper, Tissues, Hand Soap, Dish Soap, Sponges, Laundry Soap: 50/50.

If any person fails to pay on time or makes purchases that are not identified in this contract and then demands repayment, they will be responsible for(identify penalties, fees, etc., as agreed upon).







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