Living with someone else, or with a bunch of mates, can be really fun. But it can also fall into an ugly mess if you start arguing about money and who owes who for what.
Managing your money with people you live with day-to-day takes some tact and organising and a lot of communication so that everyone knows where they stand from the start.
If you’re living with your partner it’s a good idea to keep your personal finances separate although it’s usually a sensible idea to have some sort of joint account if you are all paying bills.
Right at the start you need to agree on what percentage each one pays of the bills, particularly if one of you earns a lot more than the other. Use standing orders so that you both put enough money into that account each month and so that bills get paid on time.
Remember that if you take out a loan together or do a hire purchase agreement then you will be linked to your partner’s credit history. That means that if your partner’s credit rating is poor you may need to think again. It’s worth checking out the Money Advice Service guidance for couples on how to manage their money.
If you have bought a house together, make sure that you both have your names on the deeds and keep records of payments you make towards the mortgage, the bills and furniture. If you separate, this will help you to get what you are owed.
If you’re flat-sharing with others, it’s worth drawing up an agreement about how much each of you will pay each month, what you will do if someone doesn’t pay their share and what you can and can’t do if one of you leaves or goes away for a long period. That way you have something to fall back on if problems occur.
Nominate someone (the most sensible among you!) to be the one who manages the bills and all the financial stuff. But if possible, get it all automated by paying bills by direct debit and standing order. That way it all gets paid on time and no one has to keep badgering others to give their money in each month.
You can find more help and tips for managing money with flatmates on the Money Advice Service site.
There are also apps that can help you share other living costs fairly. For example, Splitwise is a popular one for sharing costs. One user in London says “Splitwise is absolutely brilliant for splitting bills and household costs – e.g. bleach, washing up liquid – as you can just upload a pic of the receipt. There’s three of us in my flat and it makes life so much easier.” It’s free and you can use it on iPhone and Android and on the web.
There’s also Acasa which is also free and helps day to day expenses get split easily while you keep on top of the household spending generally. One user, Becky, says “would highly recommend, the toilet roll split doesn’t become an issue on who’s turn is it next!”
Pingit is a free money-sharing app which is primarily for sending money to friends and family using just a mobile phone number. But it can also be used as a bill-splitting aid for anyone sharing their home with others.
These apps are particularly useful if there are a few of you in the house – like a student house or just a bunch of friends living together – but it’s also good for couples and could cut down on arguments about who is contributing the most.
Jasmine is a TV presenter and money expert who is regularly featured on BBC TV, Channel 5, Sky News, Channel 4 and ITV. She is an all-round money expert who can speak on all aspects of personal finance and has been dubbed ‘the kind money expert’ as she approaches questions with understanding, equality and, when appropriate, humour. Jasmine set up the consumer website MoneyMagpie.com in 2008 and produces information every day on how to make and save money. MoneyMagpie now has over 70K subscribers to its weekly newsletter.