Today’s Guest Column

Despite being just a few weeks into the spring semester, students’ inboxes are already flooded with messages about selecting housing for next year. Some will be returning to their dorms for another year, and many will consider an apartment or house off Route 1.

Moving into a new house or apartment with your friends is an exciting transition, but you may run into new challenges about sharing living expenses. Money problems between roommates, such as not paying rent on time, not splitting grocery bills evenly or forgetting about the utility bill are common points of contention — and chances are, you’ll have disagreements or awkward conversations about these expenses. These issues can drive fierce wedges even between close friends who live together.

But don’t let that keep you from signing that lease with your best friends for next fall. Here are three easy ways to minimize money mismanagement and maintain the peace:

1. As soon as everyone moves in, write up an agreement that describes the house rules for monthly payments. Who is collecting the bills each month? By what day will they need each roommate’s share? How much should each roommate pay? Clearly lay out all of these details in writing, and have each roommate sign the agreement.

2. Hold one another accountable. Remind one another in person about payments and allow ample time to make payments. Don’t let one roommate get away with not paying their share of the rent for long; this only leads to resentment and awkward conversations and could even hurt your credit score.

3. Use an easy payment service to collect shared expenses. An electronic payment service on your computer or phone makes handling these expenses simpler than constantly handling cash or checks or making trips to the bank. Popmoney’s personal payment service is one tool that can set up recurring payments and simplify your monthly expenses.

It’s understandable why roommates can get upset with one another over money problems — we’re all poor college students, after all — but if you follow these tips, you and your roommates can live a little closer to financial harmony.

Mary Beck is a senior communication major. She can be reached at