roommates at home

How to split your bills with your roommates

author: Sarah Neate

By Sarah Neate

When you live with others, it can be tricky to keep track of the crossover in your spending. Whether that’s with dividing the rent, splitting your utilities or taking turns to pay for the next takeaway.

What is the best way to split bills with roommates?

There are a few factors that influence the best way to split the bills between roommates. For example, a single person living with a couple might pay less toward utility bills than the couple – it’s not always an even split.

In terms of paying rent, it can be easier to divide the costs equally between housemates. However, this isn’t always the fairest way. Some households will adjust the rent for each person based on the size of their room or if they have an ensuite.  

If you and your roommates haven't discussed this yet, you should sort it out sooner rather than later. These conversations can feel a tad awkward, but it's better to have them than to be out of pocket.

When you've reached a mutual decision on what you all owe each month, there are a few ways to keep track of your payments. 

Free bill-splitting apps

There's plenty of free bill splitting apps that you can use to manage all your expenditure. These apps are great for dividing up bills between family and friends. You can connect some apps directly to your bank account, which allows you to send money straight to your roommate or request money to be sent to you.

Splitwise is a free app you can use to create groups. It will then help you to track one-off or ongoing expenses between members of that group. This app is particularly great for splitting bills such as rent and utilities. You also have the option to download a separate tool called Plates, which helps you divide the bill from bars and restaurants.

Tab app is another free app, specifically with restaurant bills and bar bills in mind. All you need to do is take a picture of your receipt and then click on the items you've personally had to claim. It will then tot up the exact amount you owe.

You can find a few more different bills splitting apps here.

Use a spreadsheet to keep track

If you’re more of the spreadsheet type, you could consider using a joint expense tracking spreadsheet.

This type of spreadsheet allows each person to log any bills or expenses they’ve paid. The spreadsheet will then calculate it all and inform you how much each person has paid altogether. You can also split it into sections such as rent, utility bills, food shopping etc.

Keep some purchases separate

When living with roommates, it’s probably a good idea to keep some expenses separate to avoid any friction.

Perhaps you could do separate food shopping to avoid any accusations of someone eating more than their fair share.

It's also a wise idea when buying things like shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. If you each take care of buying your own, you can avoid any issues further down the line.

How do you split the bill with a friend?

Splitting bills with friends can get awkward- especially if you’re at a restaurant where one person orders a pricey dish and the other gets a small plate.

If this happens to you regularly, you could suggest getting separate bills so that you each only pay for what you ordered.

Alternatively, one person could pay the entire bill, and the other person could work out how much they owe and transfer that amount over.

If you're not too worried about splitting the costs exactly, you could suggest that you pay the bill this time, and your friend pays next time.

However, sometimes the easiest way is to split it down the middle and pay half each.

Should all roommates split utilities equally?

It depends entirely upon the circumstances of the people living in that property.

If one member of the household lives there full-time and another only stays Monday to Friday for work purposes, it might be fair for the person who’s there more often to offer to pay a little extra towards the utility bills.

If all bedrooms are a similar size, it's best to divide the cost of rent equally between all tenants. However, if there’s a noticeable difference in the size of the bedrooms, the person with the smallest bedroom could be better off paying less rent than the person with the largest.

If you’re not sure what your rights are with letting and estate agents, you can find out here.

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Sarah Neate

By Sarah Neate

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