Friday, December 2, 2011

Financial Fridays, No. 1: Rent & Utilities

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{paying rent}
I know that I'm not the go-to expert on all things college financial. But I do think that our apartment has a pretty good system going and that hearing about how other people do things always helps when it comes to deciding how you're going to do things in the future.

Plus, I love organizing, and I thought I'd share the love.

So here's the first post in a series I've dubbed "Financial Fridays", although posting probably won't be weekly. I don't think I have that much to say about monetary matters... *hmmm*

Let's start with the basics...

Who pays the rent & utilities?

Our apartment building wants rent checks to be paid in one single check every month. Other apartments don't mind getting rent checks in two or three parts, but the one we happen to live in likes things all together.

While this makes things simpler for them, because they only have to keep track of one check per apartment, that makes things a little more complicated on our part: Who's willing to front the check every month? Which of us is organized enough to make sure it's turned in on time every month and won't forget if midterms or finals are looming? How and when do the other two pay the responsible one back for rent? Whatwhatwhat?

And then there are utilities. For us, that means {1} Internet, {2} electricity, and {3} gas. Water and garbage are covered in our building {and with LA's water prices, we are very grateful for that fact}, so we don't have to worry about those. Both Internet and gas are paid monthly and the electricity bill comes once every two months.

What we decided at the beginning of the year was that Shellie would pay the rent check every month and I would deal with utilities. Because Emma is the unwritten third, she can't technically have her name on any of the official stuff {don't worry, we have clearance from our apartment manager and his higher ups. S'all legit!}.

How this works is every month, Shellie writes a check for our rent and gives it to the manager. Emma and I pay her back via check our share of the rent, preferably several days before the first of the month so that Shellie has time to deposit the money into her checking account before she pays rent.

In terms of utilities, it gets a little more complicated on my end because there are several different bills that need paying. Here're the steps to make it easier to understand...

How to Deal with Utilities and Reimbursements in College Apartmenting:
1. Make sure to check the mail often so that bills don't go unnoticed.
2. Pay the bills. I happen to do this via credit card and mostly online when I can, but others write checks. It's however you want to do it.
3. Keep track of how much you paid for each bill and when you paid it. I make a chart on Excel to help with that.
4. Every month on the first, I total everything, calculate how much each person has to pay {so divide by three, basically}, and send the chart out to my roomies {email is our friend}.
5. Money pot checks are due to me by the seventh of each month. This month, it's due to me by the third {I sent it out earlier than normal as well} because of finals and Christmas break happening on and around the seventh.

So far, this system has worked for us. I think one hurdle we didn't think through entirely is coming at us as we start Christmas break in a week... no one will be here to check the mail and therefore, who's going to pick up the bills for December and pay for them? Hmm.

The upside is that Emma lives in the LA area. The downside is that I, however, don't. So in terms of paying for the things, we shall see how that works and I will let you know.

January rent is due the first, which also posed a problem since Shellie isn't here either, but we just decided to mail Shellie our sections of the rent via snail mail and then she could mail in our rent so that it'd get here by the first. Problem solved!

Now how to avert the utilities crisis...

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