Are You Financially Incompatible With Your Roomie?

Mo Money Mo Problems

How To Tell If You’re Financially Incompatible With Your Roommate


Awesomeness continues after advertisement

Living with a roommate for the very first time can bring some mixed feelings. On the one hand, it can be super fun and exciting — like a glorious, never-ending sleepover. Of course that’s if you happen to become friends and actually get along.

On the other hand, there are a lot of challenges that can arise when two or more people share one common living space — regardless of whether or not they actually like each other. Money just happens to be one of those things.

You might have different tastes in music or decor. One person might like studying with the TV on, while the other needs total silence. You might even sleep during different times of the day depending on your schedules. These are just some incompatibilities that tend to arise between roommates. While some differences aren’t that big of a deal, differences in the way you and your roomie manage money can cause a ton of headaches if you’re not on the same page.

Awesomeness continues after advertisement


“Not everyone has the same financial situation for better or for worse,” Chantel Bonneau, a wealth management advisor with Northwestern Mutual tells AwesomenessTV. “In a roommate situation, you may see some signs that there’s financial incompatibility, but that may take a few months to notice.”

Here are some key signs you’re financially incompatible:

1. One roommate assumes you’ll split the cost of everything.

One of the great things about having a roommate is the ability to split the cost of essentials like toilet paper, dish soap, and paper towels. But if one roommate is on a budget and the other orders a pizza without thinking about the cost and then asks to split it, that’s one of the smaller signs that you’re financially incompatible.

If it happens once, thats fine. It’s something you can probably let slide. But it can be pretty frustrating if it becomes a recurring thing. And believe us, these little things add up if you’re on a tight budget. This just means that you and your roommate aren’t on the same page about how you manage your money. And you should have an honest conversation about what your limitations or expectations are.

2. You have an “unspoken understanding” about money.

It’s nice to be a good person and help your roommate when he or she is in need. But that can have a way of backfiring when you become trapped in an unspoken deal you never agreed to be a part of. For example, let’s say the delivery person is at the door. The roommate who ordered the pizza answers it, checks pockets for tip money, but realizes he/she is out. In this instance, the other roommate is asked to get the tip. When this type of small spending occurs over and over again, without having the small debt repaid, resentment can develop. It can also reveal differences in how your and your roommate thinks about money to begin with.

3. You can’t agree on HBO or Netflix

This is one of the larger and more obvious signs that you’re definitely not on the same page. In most cases, roommates will split the cost of the cable/internet packages. But if one roommate is all about those premium channels while the other is fine with just streaming options, you’re definitely going to need to compromise.

So what can you do about any of these issues if they pop up?

“The key to dealing with roommate incompatibilities is communication,” Bonneau says. Talk it out. Have those discussions about splitting take-out costs or why paying a little more for premium cable is (or isn’t) worth it. If you feel that your roommate is ordering expensive delivery or is always asking to borrow money and forgetting to pay you back, you need to bring up the fact that you follow a budget and there’s not a lot of room for excess.

“Many challenges really stem from not understanding the other person’s situation and mindset,” she says. “Most reasonable people will be more cautious if they’re aware of the situation. As in most relationships, communication is key. Setting ground rules keeps people on their best behavior.” It also helps that services like Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App exist. They make it pretty easy to shoot someone $20 with the tap of your phone.

It might be uncomfortable to discuss finances, but it’s important muscle to flex — you’ll need it for future job negotiations, talks with romantic partners about spending, and even conversations with family members about money.

Kristine Fellizar
Kristine Fellizar

Kristine Fellizar is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. She specializes in everything related to sex, dating, and relationships. When she’s not working and feeding into her coffee and boba addiction all over L.A., chances are you'll find her at Disneyland.