Love. Hate. Hate. Love. Whether you’ve just moved in with your BFF or found yourself a housemate, living with another person can be the best (or worst) of times.
Maybe you thought moving in with your best friend was going to be ah-maze, until your food started disappearing on a daily basis and you’re forever out of paper towel (what’s with that?). Or perhaps you found out that your ‘perfect’ housemate is in a not-so-perfect relationship (the 13 missed calls from ‘Babe’ during the inspection should have been a giveaway, sigh.)
But hey, you’re an adult and you’re definitely not perfect either, so you do the adult thing and make the most out of the situation. Except the situation gets worse because now it involves money.
Dealing with bad money manners from a housemate who is either your friend (and should know better) or a person you want to politely punch in the face on your way out to work in the morning, downright sucks. There’s no other way to put it.
So before you land yourself a restraining order on your housemate, we’ve rounded up some common money situations that arise in a shared household and how to handle them without losing your cool.
Money situation #1: 'Ohh, rent is due?!'
Yes, rent is due. It’s due the exact same time this month as it was last month. You know it. They know it. The person living below you who hears you stomping around knows it. Your housemate just has rent amnesia and 'doesn’t do' direct debit.
No need to nag. Ditch the calendar reminders and refrain from the passive-aggressive text messages.
Instead, start a 'housemates tab' on a handy finance management app (such as Finch) and add 'rent' along with all other household expenses. Netflix, toilet paper, beer for tomorrow’s BBQ - you name it. On Finch all housemates can add to the tab and it will automatically calculate the difference owed when you’re ready to settle in one go, instead of a bunch of smaller payments. Even better, no more awkward confrontations in the hallways! The app will do the nagging for you by sending out friendly reminders to your housemates every 48 and 96 hours…‘til they pay!
Money situation #2: Their S/O becomes the third housemate.
Not only is it annoying to hear them giggle through the walls when you’re trying to get some shut-eye, but it’s even more annoying when their love trysts start chipping away at your bank account. Sleeping over, flushing your toilet, using your shower, drinking your coffee, using your lights, and watching your TV. Surprise! You have a third housemate. And it’s just as useful as a third kneecap.
The best way around this situation is to set clear rules from the beginning. You signed a contract to live with one person, not two. If you’re feeling outnumbered, things can get awkward (and resentful) fast. Agree on things like: How often can partners stay over? Do they have to give notice? Who gets the bathroom first in the morning? What are the rules on common areas? If you don’t mind or perhaps you both have partners staying over, suggest that everyone helps out around the house or chips in financially. A simple agreement can go a long way toward keeping the peace.
Money situation #3: They eat your food.
No wonder animals pee on their stuff, everyone else helps themselves to it otherwise! There’s nothing like stumbling in after a long night (or a short one with a lot of shots) looking to devour your leftover pizza to find out that….whoosh! It’s simply vanished. Or worse, waking up one morning to find your organic almond milk had been 'pinched' to drown a bowl of Fruit Loops.
So what do you do? Of course, you have 'The Talk'. Not the birds and bees one (although, if you’re also suffering from the third housemate situation, that may be apropes.) Whatever you do, don’t shrug it off. Food. Ask them to keep their mitts off your food! If need be, go the old school post-it note route. Bag and mark what’s yours. Hide it. And if items still go missing…well, there’s always the ‘housemates tab’ on Finch where you can politely charge your housemate for that bowl of almond milk.
For more advice to live in share house harmony take a look at our guide to finding the perfect housemate and four rules to set before moving into a new share house.
Shahirah Gardner is the co-founder of Finch, a fintech startup with a vision to reimagine the consumer finance experience. Its first product, 'a financial app for your social life' combines social payments and spending insights to help young Australians understand their current social spending habits. When she’s not in startup mode, she’s an avid yogi, snowboarder, and advocate for women in tech.
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