Last weekend, I took a trip with some friends. We all drove ourselves and met up to stay at a condo resort. I put the cost on my credit card, and everyone agreed to pay me. We had all previously agreed on the cost of the room, so I wasn’t expecting any conflicts
But when it came time to split the expenses, it quickly became clear that we didn’t agree on how to split the bill.
The Confusion – How to Split?
Our group totaled four people. One couple and two single people.
My initial thought was that we would split by four. Four people sharing space, split by four.
The couple thought we would split by three, as they were a unit.
After taking a look at the situation, I decided to look at how the space was shared. There were two rooms, each with a single bed and a bathroom. The couple shared one room and one bathroom, the other person and I shared the second room and bathroom. Essentially the space was split 50/50 with that space, so with my math, each “room” owed half of the payment. That meant that each person paid 1/4 of the total amount.
However, if the condo had included three rooms, I would have split it differently. Each room would have owed a total of 1/3.
Explaining this, everyone found it fair and there were no conflicts on how to split the room.
Even when you’re traveling with friends with whom you have split expenses before, always be sure that everyone agrees on how the space will be split, and there are certainly different ways to agree on splitting the cost. It wouldn’t necessarily have been “wrong” to split the cost by three, and perhaps if the couple was struggling financially, we all would have agreed on a three way split.
But the key was that all four of us should have agreed first.
Recently, I shared a house with three other people, and while two of us had to share a room, everyone had their own bed, and we all agreed to pay an even share, regardless of who was sharing. We had come to that agreement prior to the trip, which was the smart move.
Some people will tell you to never mix friendship and money. And on some level, that is good advice, but I don’t know that it’s practical advice. How often do you go out for dinner with friends or share lodging on a trip? The lesson is to make sure that everyone is clear on the agreement and how the expenses will be allocated.
And if someone balks at paying their fair share? Sounds like you shouldn’t be making any financial deals with them from now on.
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.