Learn how to handle roommate grocery expenses before signing a rental agreement.
After moving in with a roommate(s), the last thing you want to learn is that your monthly expenses are not what you expected them to be.
You will want to know what you are signing up for apart from splitting the rent and utility bills costs, as that should be standard.
I’m sure you remember the television show, “The Big Bang Theory,” and the roommate agreement that Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) dished out after Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) decided to become roommates with him.
It may have been outrageous, and we laughed but didn’t think this could happen to you. It can.
Over-night guests notification clause (The Irish Pub Formulation) – There has to be a 24-hour notice if a non-related female is staying overnight
Section 37B, Miscellaneous Duties (The Friendship Contraction): Leonard must drive Sheldon to appointments like the dentist.
He must also provide a “confirmation sniff” for questionable dairy products.
The agreement requires having quarterly Roommate Agreement meetings (The Viewing Party Combustion).
At the meetings, the Pledge of Allegiance becomes part of the process. Issues raised at the meetings include what kind of cereal to buy.
If you’re lucky and find a house or basement apartment for rent with your friends or a roommate looking to pair up with another who is apartment searching, you can create house rules right from the start.
Be prepared that you won’t all agree on all the rules, so even discussing a roommate agreement before you rent together might be a smart financial move.
Moving costs are high for everyone, but having to move out prematurely because of differences with your roommates over house rules can be costlier.
On a few occasions, I’ve received emails or comments from fans asking about grocery splitting when living with roommates for school.
When looking for a place to rent, it’s essential that all parties create a roommate agreement, signed and dated, so there are no surprises.
You can’t always assume you will rent to an easy roommate who will go with the flow and dish out cash for whatever is needed.
If you think like this, you’ll soon find out how fast things go downhill, and if you hold the apartment lease, you may be stuck paying for more than you bargained for if your roommates move out.
When I lived in the UK and went to University, I had roommates (flatmates) where we split rent and came up with a simple solution for buying groceries that made sense for the three of us.
We also had house rules which were pretty laid back and, for the most part, seemed to be standard roommate etiquette.
That meant we kept a roommate cleaning schedule on the refrigerator that we monitored monthly and rotated chores, so we weren’t always doing the same task each day/week/month.
This worked for us, and we happily finished our education without roommate battles.
Creating A Roommate Agreement
A friend of ours who has a son that attends University no longer wanted to live in residence after he finished his first year.
Beginning this September, he has secured a house for rent with a few friends as roommates.
When visiting his parents, who live in the same city, his mother asked him about the food situation.
When he lived in residence, he had a complete meal plan that his parents paid for, but now he had to provide food for himself.
His mother was concerned and wanted to make sure he wasn’t eating out all the time.
She wanted to know how they planned on buying groceries and who would do the cooking.
Her son wasn’t sure what they would do, which meant they had not discussed the grocery shopping topic nor set up any roommate rules.
Since his mother, sister, and I went to University, and we were over for a dinner party when this conversation came up, he asked for our advice on what they should do about grocery shopping.
Of course, it was my topic of expertise, but they don’t know that since I don’t tell anyone, I am the blogger at Canadian Budget Binder.
I offered him a few suggestions about how he could approach the situation of food shopping with roommates, so he knew there were options along with some pros and cons of each.
First, I mentioned that the roommates should sit together and create a roommate rules agreement before school starts.
Creating a roommate agreement is not difficult, and you can quickly type it out, have everyone read it, date it, and sign it.
Make sure to give everyone a copy of the roommate agreement for reference and keep a copy on the refrigerator for the same purpose.
How To Buy Groceries When You Have A Roommate
Before I get into this topic, I want to add that it’s essential always to do a pantry checklist, freezer inventory, and refrigerator sniff.
Related: 30 must-have Student Pantry Staples
The last thing you want to do is buy more than you need. Stay organized, and it’s a win-win for all; you might also want to eat out less.
Related: How to keep an organized pantry
1. Buy Your Groceries
Set a grocery budget and buy your food. Label it and store it in the refrigerator, cupboards, and pantry if available.
You could even purchase a second-hand beer fridge for your bedroom to stash beer and other goodies you don’t want to tempt others with.
Related: How to create a student budget
The worst is when visitors come and help themselves.
You don’t have to share with anyone, nor do you have to worry about running out of stuff or paying for food you don’t want, especially if you are on a special diet.
The only con I can think of from my experience is that you have to watch how much you buy, so you don’t have food waste.
2. Split Grocery Expenses With Roommate 100%
Create a grocery budget and prepare a grocery list with your roommate every week.
Use the grocery flyers or flyer apps to help you find the best deals on food.
Just because you are splitting the costs of groceries doesn’t mean you have to pay the total price. Save money where you can, when you can.
Either you all go grocery shopping together, rotate who goes, or pair up depending on how many roommates you have.
It’s only fair that everyone participates in this chore as not everyone likes to do it.
One con to grocery splitting 100% is that you will pay for food you don’t like, won’t eat much of, or won’t eat any.
One roommate in the bunch always eats more than the rest of you so that portion control may be lopsided.
It’s hard to control this unless you can divide portions of all your food.
3. Partial Split Of Groceries
Partially splitting groceries was how my roommate and I split groceries at University.
We ate different foods, so we kept grocery shopping for food personally.
Groceries were purchased based on our nutritional needs and grocery budget allowance.
We split on products that were common or wouldn’t need more than one in the refrigerator.
Products such as ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and baking supplies such as flour, baking powder, etc., pitched in to buy.
4. How To Create A Grocery List
The best grocery list app is the mobile Flipp app, where you can get coupons, check sales prices, compare stores, and create a grocery list simultaneously.
Using a mobile grocery app is a great way to save time and ensure you don’t lose a paper grocery list which is pretty easy to do; ask my wife.
Then again, she left her iPhone on the grocery store shelf.
We use our printable grocery list, which you can download for free if you don’t fancy using an app.
Doing it the old-fashioned way is how we grocery shop because we don’t have a data plan on my wife’s smartphone.
- Plan your shopping trips ahead of time with the ultimate shopping list.
- Build your list, and Flipp will find you local deals to make saving easy.
- Check off items at the store with just one tap to keep you on track.
Paying For Groceries With A Roommate – Reader Feedback
I knew it was time to bring this topic up for my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide to help those who want advice about grocery shopping with roommates.
Susan- I bought my groceries when I rented a house with roommates in college. Friends, I wouldn’t say I liked a room with problems with a roommate or the boyfriend eating the food.
Colleen- I would prefer to each buy your groceries and take turns buying cleaning, paper products, and maybe even coffee/tea supplies, but make sure you have a responsible roomie.
Della- I’ve had a roommate, and we split the groceries due to each bringing the same number of people to the household. This way, our food budget went further, and we didn’t have to wonder/worry if the other family was eating our food.
Mary- My nephew used to live with us; he would pay us $250 twice a month, and usually, one of those times, we would go to Costco and stock up the freezer and pantry. This way, he got to choose what we also had, seeing I did the cooking.
Heather- When we were living in our apartment (my husband and I) with his friend, this was like six years ago – we always bought our groceries as it was easier to get what you like.
Nicola- No, but when I lived with my mom and dad, I would contribute, and then anything else I would buy myself if that counts. If you’re unsure what your roommate(s) has planned, take the initiative to call a meeting and chat with each other.
Rules Are Important To Roommate Success
Your house rules will make or break your roommate relationship and your monthly budget.
If finance and friendship are essential to you, bring the topic to the table. You will all be glad you did.
Discussion: What other advice or tips can you offer students moving in with roommates or for anyone renting or splitting rent with a roommate outside the education system?
Free Money-Saving Tools
So many people pay for budgets and tools on the internet to help them save money, and honestly, you don’t need to.
The I budget brought us to debt freedom back in 2013, and now I’m offering it to all of you for FREE.
Don’t pay someone for these services; I’ve done the work for you and help from other fabulous bloggers.
You can download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel.
Free Money Saving Downloads are fantastic lists created to get us on track to reach our budgeting goals, and now we are sharing them with you.
Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list, and much more, all for FREE.
The time is NOW to save money on groceries, so please enjoy the many money-saving posts in The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
Discussion: What other tips can you offer students with a roommate this semester?
Please leave your comments below.
Grocery Shopping For A Family Of Three
Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2016: $2820
The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.
Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)
- Total Grocery Budget for the Month:$235.00-$40.93=$194.07
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $194.07
- Total Gift Cards used to date: $60
- Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
- Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
- PC Points Plus Earned to date: 294,000
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
- Shoppers Optimum: Just under 850,000 Optimum points (I will update this twice a year)
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Tweet to cash out: $18.25
- Checkout51 to cash out: $22.00
Our Grocery Shop This Week
The final week of the August grocery game challenge was a no-shop week for us as we had plenty of food in the house.
- Total to spend this month: $194.07 $235.00-$40.93 overage from July
- Stockpile budget 2016: $25.00
- Stockpile budget used this month: $23.88
- Total coupons used this week: $0
- Total coupons used to date: $15.36
- Total in-store discounts this week:$0
- Real in-store deals to date: $450.34
- Total spent this week: $0
- Total spent so far this month: $201.30
- Total over/Under spend this shop: over
- Total over/Under spend for the month: over -$5.23
- Total left to spend for the month: -$5.23
- Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $252.95 + Feb $249.46 + March $211.11 + April $248.11 + May $279.07 + June $231.96 + July $244.40 + Aug $201.30
We rarely get to say that we have a no-shop week, even though we have worked hard to incorporate them into our grocery budget.
With all the free food and vegetables we’ve gotten and stocking up the past month, we have plenty to contact us for now.
Coupons and Coupon Apps For Roommates
Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons!
Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program, and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem excellent products or gift cards.
If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada, check out my ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide!
You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget.
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