New School Year, New Roommate, New Rules!

RoommatesFor many of you, the upcoming 2015/2016 school year also means  getting a new roommate!  Getting along with your roommate is important to succeed in your studies and is a necessity for your mental health and happiness (miserable roommate situation =-stress)!  We recommend getting off on the right foot and setting some ground rules early on to avoid conflict later.  Here are some talking points to help get the conversation going.

Study Habits: Will you have some sort of “quiet hours”? Where can you study? Is it ok to play music/video games/watch TV in common areas? What if one roommate is too loud? What is the best way to let each other know when there needs to be quiet?

Food: Take into account each person’s food preferences and dietary considerations. Will you share the cost of food? If so, how will you ensure each person contributes money? Do you shop individually? Is it okay to eat or drink something that belongs to someone else? If so, must it be replaced?

Other house items: Will you share the cost for common room items like garbage bags, dish washing soap, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and toiletries?

Personal belongings/Privacy: Is it okay to borrow personal goods without approval? What is off limits? Is it ok to go into a roommate’s bedroom? Can visitors go into the roommate’s bedroom? Should there be a knock first policy?

Visitors: Will you have parties? During what times and days can friends come over? How many visitors can come over at one time? Is it ok to have overnight guests? How long can an overnight guest stay? Where can guests sleep? What if a visitor makes someone feel uncomfortable? Where can guests park?

Smoking, drinking and drugs:  Will you have rules guiding what is permissible? Will there be limits as to where these things can happen, such as “no smoking in the house.” What will we do if someone brings drugs into the house? How will we ensure that we follow the laws around alcohol (such as not allowing anyone under 21 to drink).

Rent. Will the rent be split evenly? Will one person pay more to have a larger spacer or balcony? How will you pay rent? Will one roommate pay the landlord, or will you each pay separately? Who mails/delivers the rent to the landlord? Will any roommate be leaving before the term is complete? If so, who will pay the rent? How will a new roommate be selected? We recommend signing a “Roommate Contract” that specifies the terms of your partnership.

• Utilities and other services. How will we divide and pay for deposits and/or hook- up charges for each utility? Will we have a telephone, cable television or internet? How will we pay for hook up and/or charges related to these services?

Remember, establishing an open, honest relationship with your new roommate will help to save you from massive headaches later on.  Always discuss concerns as soon as they arise, before they escalate into larger issues.   Good luck and have fun!

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Money Management Tips For Students Part Two

Money Management
Basic money management skills are essential for students to master in order to be successful during their college years and throughout life. Last month, we shared some budgeting and spending tips for students to follow to help them get a handle on their finances. Here’s a follow up post with more tips to help you get a handle on finances-

Know your Credit Score

Bad credit will haunt you for years to come and limit your options in the future as far as housing, transportation, continuing education and more. To secure a better future and access to lower interest rates, you must maintain a good, clean credit report. Sites like AnnualCreditReport.com will give you one free credit report per year online. You can also check with Consumer Credit Reporting Companies like Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

With identity theft and other cyber crimes on the rise, knowing your credit score can also help you stay ahead of potential consumer fraud. The Federal Trade Commission is a great resource to help protect yourself and your financial future.

Pay with Cash

Having trouble staying true to your budget? Always pay with cash- and you won’t have a choice. “Withdraw however much cash you plan to spend that week, and don’t use your debit card,” says blogger Jordin Keim in this article. “It’s harder to watch cash go than it is to swipe a card, so you will think twice before making unnecessary purchases.”

Set Aside Emergency Funds

Count on this- you will encounter unanticipated expenses as a student and throughout life. It’s guaranteed. So, be smart and plan for these emergencies. Follow this simple rule and it will set you free from the burden of these unwelcome “surprises”: Live below your means and set aside cash each month for emergency funds. Always have a cushion to get you through times of need.

Utilize Technology to Manage Your Budget

One of the advantages of living in the digital age is the ability to manage your cash on the go. Much of the work can be done right from your phone thanks to banks and their online money management resources like bill pay, budget monitoring, savings account management and more. Free apps like Balance and Mint are very helpful to busy students.

For more tips and ways students can manage their money and get ahead, visit these sites:

Get Rich Slowly – Personal Finance That Makes Cents
CNN Money – Personal Finance

photo credit: 223/365 – my bank sucks via photopin (license)