Bills, bills, bills

To avoid heated arguments with your housemates, assign each person the responsibility of a bill (cable, heat, electricity) to make sure everyone gets their money in on time. (Illustration by Keryn Brenzel)

College students are notorious for a deficient cash flow. Luckily, most schools have eliminated the physical concept of money with the ID. With a magical swipe, students — turned points billionaires — are fed and merrily throw away receipts.

Oh, to be young again.

Living off-campus introduces an unfortunate reality of the grown-up world, where money isn’t stored on a plastic, awkward freshman version of you, via mommy and daddy. Once outside the bubble of dormitory living, horrible considerations — like paying for electrciity, heating, Internet and (gasp) television — emerge as something you actually have to think about.

Before moving into your humble abode, delegate responsibility for bill payments. By electing someone to be in charge of each bill, the stress of paying bills on time is minimized considerably. If everyone has just one bill to take care of, the transition into the real world won’t seem as daunting. Invest in some post-it notes or a dry-erase board to keep track of payment due dates and who has or hasn’t paid their share.

Depending on your individual situation, opening a checking account just for house expenses may prove beneficial. That way, bills can be paid with one check and the person responsible for payments doesn’t have to worry about getting reimbursed from that one deadbeat housemate (guilty). Personally, I am partial to the assorted Muppet checks. Be wary, though, of the fact that opening a checking account requires one person to attach their name and information to the activities of the account, so bouncing checks can be detrimental to that person’s credit score. Keep up with bank statements, and make sure housemates contribute to the account in a timely fashion.

Now, I’m not much of a television junkie. I limit myself to essentially [adult swim] and absolutely nothing appearing on MTV. My housemates and I decided upon anInternet and cable package because it seemed fiscally responsible, and there is no real reason for a landline. There are infinite companies and packages eager to get Snooki in your living room, so make sure you thoroughly research your options.

Aside from rent, heat will likely be your most oppressive expense, and it will only get worse as the winter months progress. Instead of creating a power-wasting fluctuation in temperatures — as result of heat Nazis (guilty) cranking the thermostat down — decide upon a relative and reasonable temperature to maintain. Result? Less secret thermostat battles, and ultimately kinder financially.

Being a bill-paying “adult” is frightening, but can ultimately be less expensive than living on-campus — if orchestrated wisely.

Katie Brenzel can be reached at brenzel2@tcnj.edu