The Importance of Budgeting with Roommates and Eating at Home

By Catherine Crayon

When I first moved out of my parent’s house and went to college, I had no idea what to expect. My expectations for spending habits and budgeting necessities were absolutely nonexistent.

I quickly came to realize that living with someone, especially sharing your entire living space with another person, takes a lot of give and take. I had to come to terms that I needed to split things with my roommate in order to save space in our small dorm.

It’s a lot to consider when deciding what things to split and what to keep for yourself. For example, since we shared a bathroom, we split costs for things like toilet paper and hand soap that we knew we would both use equally. When it comes to sharing a kitchen area and a smaller fridge, that’s where I learned the most.

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to always have food in the kitchen and never worry about my next meal. When I moved out of my parents’ house, I took on the responsibility of buying and cooking all of my food. My biggest tip for budgeting for food is to buy the basics and mix and match them. For example, when I go to the store I’ll buy two starches, two vegetables, and two meats. Then, I’ll mix and match those for that week of meals.

Often, I’ll get chicken and salmon, rice and potatoes, and broccoli and spinach! When it came to sharing a limited kitchen space with a roommate, some sacrifices needed to be made. So, we both sat down and talked about what we wanted to split prices with. Eventually, we came up with the idea of splitting the necessities like butter, eggs, and milk. To make the price-splitting easier and more efficient, we also decided that we would be taking turns purchasing these necessities instead of splitting the price and using Venmo every time.

While being in college, I’ve also learned the impact of going out to eat. One meal at a restaurant can be broken down into three or four meals at home! Being able to save money and make home cooked meals has become something so rewarding. Before coming to college, I never enjoyed cooking for myself and would always eat at restaurants. However, since my budget has forced me to cut back on spending at restaurants, I’ve grown to love cooking and trying new recipes. It’s an incredibly rewarding hobby and helps me save money in the process.

I’ve always loved trying new food out at new restaurants so being able to make great food in the comfort of my home has really expanded on that hobby. Further, my roommate has extensive dietary restrictions. As a gluten-free vegetarian, her options in the kitchen are very limited so that further restricts my abilities to split ingredients with her. However, the most basic and typical ingredients are able to be shared. This is a huge implication when going out to eat as I often have to make some sacrifices, which is okay since I’ve learned to cook amazing meals at home. However, being her roommate has also introduced me to so many meals that I wouldn’t have come into contact with in the first place.

When it comes to living with a roommate, it’s important to sit down with them and have a clear and lengthy conversation about budgeting the necessities in an apartment. The more concise the conversation is the better, to avoid any confusion or arguments in the future. A clean line of communication between roommates is often the solution to many problems living together, especially one revolving around money and when to spend it.

Crayon is a junior at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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