Living with someone sometimes means picking up his or her habits and -isms. Unfortunately, with this comes the risk of emulating his or her not-so-desirable ways, especially when it comes to finances.
Whether you're paying for most things together or handling them separately, the way your roommate approaches finances can have a major effect on your own. Most of the time, it's seemingly little things that your roommate does that begin to add up, and that's what ends up making a dent in your savings.
Your roommate might be bad for your bank account if he or she:
1. Always insists on ordering out instead of cooking
If we're being honest, sometimes you just really don't want to cook or use your groceries. Be it laziness, boredom with what you have stocked in the pantry or pure craving for something that you can't replicate in your kitchen, ordering out and indulging yourself every once in a while is more than okay.
However, when it becomes habitual, that's when it becomes a problem for your wallet. If your roommate is a chronic order-outer, it shows that he or she is willing to spend his or her money on a quick hunger fix instead of budgeting out buying groceries and using what's in the kitchen before he or she buys more. The price of food plus the price of delivery is never a bargain, and when you start doing it several times a week it adds up quick.
2. Falls asleep with the TV and/or lights on
Those of us with high electric and cable bills are seething reading this. The difference that a couple of extra hours using the cable and electricity can make in your monthly rate may seem minimal, but if your roommate is someone who does this fairly often, a big chunk of both of these bills could be coming from accidental shut-eye on the couch. Even something as small as falling asleep during a movie and leaving the TV on and running for an hour afterwards can make a difference.
3. Always asks to borrow money last-minute
We all have that one friend who always owes us (or someone) money. It's not necessarily that he or she is mooching off of everyone else, but it seems like your roommate never has enough money when the time comes to pay.
Living with someone means randomly paying for things together pretty often—whether it's spontaneously deciding to grab breakfast together in the morning, replacing light bulbs and toilet paper at the drugstore, or even calling in repairmen last-minute. If your roommate asks you to cover them quickly, you're more likely to forget that he or she even owes you at all.
If your roommate happens to be this person, be wary. Though he or she may not outright ask you to borrow money for something big (i.e. rent), it can still happen sporadically enough to begin to make a dent on your bank account.
4. Never pays for anything in cash
Charging things to credit makes sense for big purchases, and for sporadic expenditures throughout the month—it's not reasonable to have cash on you at all times and it's definitely important to build (good) credit. The problem, as we all know, with charging things to credit, is that oftentimes we don't realize how much credit we've actually accumulated when it comes time to pay the bill. Enter: credit card debt.
If your roommate is someone who uses his or her credit card for mostly every purchase (like shopping for groceries or clothes) it may mean that he or she isn't quite on track with watching his or her finances. This can cause you major problems down the road when it comes to paying rent and other bills.
5. Abides by the "It'll even out at one point" principle
Here's what this means: For big, joint purchases (think furniture, décor, appliances), it can be difficult to split the cost evenly on the spot. Instead of having one person pay for a big purchase and the other person pay them back, your roommate may reason that he or she will just pay for the next big purchase.
For obvious reasons, this is a disastrous idea. The costs of one big item will never equate evenly to the cost of another big item, so you'll never end up splitting the costs completely evenly. But in the early stages of living with someone, especially when you have to start furnishing and fixing up your apartment, it can seem like there are a million things that need to be purchased and payments that need to be taken care of.
For example, it might make sense in the midst of stress and chaos for one person to pay for a kitchen appliance while the other runs to the grocery store and stocks up for the week. The only way to make sure you're not ending up with the heavier end of the bill is to write out and calculate costs of each bigger item or fee that's being paid for.
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