Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Banking Moolah: The Roommate Solution

Over the past year while Mr. Converse Sneakers and I were planning our wedding, we had many decisions to make beyond choosing a quartet and saying “yes” to the dress.  For some people who marry, typically people older than us, they have to decide which home to move into, his or hers.  I was living in a studio apartment on campus my senior year of college by myself and Mr. CS was living with his best friend in a really crappy apartment.  Neither of those options were okay for us.  His apartment was not very safe and was vetoed by me.  My apartment would no longer be mine once the school year ended.  The easy solution would have been to find a new apartment to live in together.  However, the downside is that I have a full semester of student teaching coming up in the spring where I will be making zero income.  Ouch – I  hate thinking about that, but it’s our reality right now.  Mr. CS makes a decent amount of money, but not enough to support both of us for half a year.  Perhaps if we lived somewhere cheaper (the Twin Cities is not known for low house prices or low rent costs) we would have been able to accept that option.

We went back and forth for a long time, but ultimately decided that for our first year of marriage we would live with his current roommate and best friend.  So far, it has worked out pretty well.  Luckily, we live in a townhouse apartment with a main floor and a basement, each floor consisting of a bedroom, bathroom, living room, with the kitchen on the main floor and a huge storage/laundry room in the basement.

The tricky part for us became how to split the rent.  We talked it over with our current roommate and decided that splitting rent 50/50 was most fair (50 for us and 50 for him).  We decided he should get the much nicer upstairs living space and we would cram ourselves into the less-appealing basement so that it became fair to split it this way.  We technically all share the living areas, but they have become pretty much separated as well besides the kitchen and the laundry room.

Some people though we were crazy when we decided to do this.  They asked things like, “Why would you ever want to live with a roommate, especially during your first year of marriage?”  My answer has always been, “I would rather fight about a human being with my new spouse than fight about money.”  We know the reality of financial troubles being the number one predictor or divorce.  We already decided we are never getting divorced, ever, so that is not what worries us, but we would rather our first year be a pleasant one than one spent fighting about me not working and him having to suffer through paying all the bills.  I will say, this is not the easiest choice, but since we don’t know any different, it’s not that bad.  Had we lived together before marriage on our own and then took on a roommate, I think we would be doomed, but we now have a new thing to look forward to in a year: living together, just the two of us.

It doesn’t hurt that our roommate is gone a lot (not that we don’t like him – we do very much) and that we have our separate spaces.  It helps us feel more like we are living in a separate apartment than in one cramped space.  We like living simply (or trying to live simply – there is always room for improvement), so this is just one way we save money each month and keep our finances in order.

What are your thoughts on living with a roommate while married?  What crazy things have you done to keep your bills low?


  1. I know of many people who have taken in borders to help them out financially. Having a room mate is the same thing. I see nothing wrong with it especially when you all have known each other for so long and you really have your own private living quarters. It is smart to think of the financial implications of all that you do.

  2. I feel your pain. Splitting the rent is one of the most common problems faced by room mates. I experienced the same thing with my roommate before. I'm glad we remained friends through it all.

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