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How to Handle Roomate Finances

Don't let the excitement of living with friends and having your first apartment cause you to overlook financial particulars that come with having roommates. While you and your roommates may share the same love for Facebook and MySpace, you may find you're polar opposites when it comes to attitudes about spending and money.

By laying some ground rules, you can help guarantee that all parties meet their obligations, despite differences in financial habits.

Bills

Where will the money come from? Find out before signing a lease if the roommate-to-be will be reliable when it comes to paying bills.

The lease

Make each roommate sign it so each person shares the responsibility if there's a problem or if someone decides to move out before the lease is up.

Utilities

Unlike the lease, utility bills usually carry only one roommate's name. In the company's eyes, that person is responsible for making full and prompt payment. To spread the risk, each roommate should put a bill in his or her name. If need be, make a payment with individual, prorated checks--divide the whole bill among roommates.

Food

Will you limit shared costs to household supplies, like toilet paper and dishwasher detergent? Or can you agree about how to share other staples, like milk?

Chores

Will one person always get stuck unloading the dishwasher or cleaning the bathrooms? This kind of issue is a common source of friction among roommates.

Not sure where to start? Use your browser to search "roommate agreement forms," many of which are comprehensive and easy to use. And remember, we're here to provide the services and support you need, as you get started and as you move through your life.

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