Roommates, Frugality, and Necessary Spending

A reader named John writes in about a conundrum with his future roommate:

I need to know if my best friend is saving his money wisely, or just being ridiculously cheap. There’s a difference between cheap and frugal, I know this. I’m frugal, but not cheap. I’m not so sure about him.

He has a fairly decent job, but he does spend a good chunk of money on college loans (about the same as me, around $500-$600 a month), and he spends about $200 a month on gas because he drives a long way to work. He’s working on getting a new job to fix that gas bill.

Now, my main question has to do with him and his savings account. The question came up because we plan to get an apartment together and I mentioned that once we get settled in we could maybe split a plasma TV. I’m not thinking anything crazy, I’m thinking in the $800-$1000 range. So it’d be $400 or $500 a piece, and at the end of the year I’d buy the rest of it from him. He flipped. Said that’s impossible, he doesn’t have the money, etc, etc. He tends to do this a lot whenever he has to do something that involves paying for anything other than his bills.

The thing is, he has something like $15,000-$20,000 in savings. I’m not exactly sure, but it’s a decent number. He’ll say “I need that for emergencies, if I start using that to buy stuff, it’ll be gone before I know it.” Now, I know the importance of an emergency fund, I have about $5,000 saved up in my own emergency fund. But is it foolish of me to think that he should be able to part with $400 from $20,000? Am I so wrong to think that would be ok?

I would appreciate any advice you could give to me that maybe I could pass on to him.

For starters, on the issue of whether to “invest” in a plasma television, it shouldn’t be a surprise to long term readers that I agree with John’s roommate – I’ve encouraged people to throw out the television they already have, let alone buy a new one. I’ll get back to this in a minute, but the important thing is that the television itself is very secondary to this overall situation – there are bigger issues at work that John and his potential roommate need to address.

First of all, they have different philosophies on what is a worthwhile expense and what is not.

John pretty clearly thinks it is reasonable to buy a plasma television, while his roommate-to-be does not. As I said above, I agree with the roommate, but there is no absolute right or wrong answer here – it depends entirely on personal values. Another major difference is the idea of what an emergency fund is and what it should be used for.

Given that, to be roommates who don’t resent each other, they’re going to have to be fully clear on this to each other.

Based on the email, it’s pretty clear that John has a broader definition of worthwhile expense than his roommate and he feels that a plasma television is a worthwhile expense, and he already seems almost resentful that his potential roommate disagrees with this. Different people have different value structures, and if you’re concerned that your roommate’s value structure is different enough than your own that it’s going to cause problems, then perhaps a roommate situation isn’t a good idea.

Another note: if you want your roommate to go in half on an expensive item like this, then plan to buy their half at the end of the year, the roommate probably looks at it as being a $400-500 interest free loan for a year.

At the same time, you’re expecting to be roommates, which probably has this person a touch uncomfortable – I know I would be in the roommate’s shoes. Why? First, it would make me wonder whether this scenario would be repeated on other luxury items – are you going to suggest similar things with similar pressure if you happen to want a Playstation 3? Next, given that you’re going to be sharing bills, I’d worry about your financial choices a bit – you’re asking me to go in half on an expensive item that I don’t want … what does that mean about your financial situation? Are you going to regularly try to buy expensive items that you can’t really afford?

So what should these two do? Before they even think of sharing an apartment, they need to sit down and hammer out how they’ll handle shared purchases.

John pretty clearly has a taste for more expensive items than his potential roommate, which is fine, but to automatically expect the roommate to share in this is wrong. Sit down and rationally talk about it – it may be that the roommate is fine going in halves on a moderate television, but if you want to jump to a plasma and your roommate does not, then you should likely pay for it yourself.

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  1. Seth Miller says:

    I agree with everything that was said, however I did have one thought on getting an HD TV. If you can find a reasonably priced one they probably can pick up HD content for free which would eliminate a cable bill. If that was the desire of the roommates that might be a more frugal way to look at the purchase, if they aren’t ready to give up on TV all together.
    On the other hand, if the roommate wants a plasma so they can subscribe to all the HD content through a provider the TV might be just the start of the issue.

  2. Corey says:

    You’re being kind of harsh to John. He never said he “assumed” anything about buying the TV – he just suggested the idea and his friend freaked. It would be different if the roommate had said “Sorry – I don’t want to invest that much into a TV.” That said, you can’t make judgments based on how much money the person has. You’re welcome to think he’s cheap (I’d probably agree, I have friends like this too) but resenting him for it is a bad idea as stated.

    Also, it’s not exactly an interest-free loan considering he gets to use the TV for the entire time.

  3. cv says:

    Looking back, I was in the roommate’s position a couple of years ago. I never told anyone my bank balance, but I had a lot of savings while various roommates had lower-paying jobs than I did, and I would never have wanted to spend money on something like a plasma TV. There were a couple of reasons:

    - The way I accumulated that much in savings was by not buying things like plasma TVs to begin with, especially when they didn’t fit in with what I thought was important. If I’d had the attitude that I could spend $500 on a TV on (someone else’s) whim, then I would never have saved up that money in the first place. For me, frugality became part of my value structure – purchases are about how much I think the proposed expenditure is worth to me compared to the price, not about how much money is sitting in the bank.

    - I was a couple years out of college and really unsure of where my life was headed. I didn’t know if I would end up quitting my job and being out of work for several months, if I’d move to a different city, if I’d need to buy a car, if I’d want to look at buying a house in a couple of years, etc. I did end up moving to new cities (twice), working part time for a while, etc., and I was able to make the choices that were best for me in other ways without stressing about money. Having major life uncertainty ahead, like looking at changing jobs, could make John’s friend less excited about spending money on something he views as frivolous.

    I think John and his friend need to sit down and iron out shared expenses. If the friend is worried about John wanting to buy something other than ramen on the shared grocery bill, then maybe he’s just being cheap. Otherwise, John should try to stop trying to talk his friend into expensive purchases he doesn’t want to make.

  4. vh says:

    The idea of havng the roommate go in half and then paying him back at the end of a year (or when John moves out, whichever comes first) sounds kinda risky. If John is spending money on pricey toys (or, I suppose, semi-pricey), then chances are he’s not saving much. This is witnessed by the fact that he thinks $5,000 suffices for an emergency fund…that wouldn’t keep me in beans and pay my utility bills for much more than two months, and it can take a lot longer than two months to land a decent-paying job. John may not have $400 to repay his friend, when the time comes.

    I’d say if John wants a television, he should buy it. Then he can take it with him when he moves, and neither man will feel uncomfortable or unhappy about having to part with half the price of it.

  5. gp says:

    I do think buying a plasma and claiming to be frugal fits together. I totally disagree when he calls his roommate cheap for not lending him money and not spending his money on a plasma TV.

  6. Jane says:

    People who like big screens often like loud sound also for a “theater experience”. When and how long a tv is on can also be a bone of contention for people sharing a space.

  7. Scarfish says:

    I warn people not to make joint purchases with roommates other than for necessities like bills. It rarely turns out well.

    I prefer to have all the furnishings, etc., be clearly defined as to whose is whose. If things change, it’s easier to figure out who takes what when they move, and there’s less risk of having to replace something jointly-owned when it’s broken or damaged. I’ve lived in a furnished share and a situation where my roommate and I jointly bought all our furniture when we moved in. I much prefer the other situations where I come in with my things and the roommate(s) have theirs. No purchase is joint and when we split up it’s clear who owns what.

    There are also two personality situations here.

    First, as has been covered, there’s a difference in priorities–John wants a plasma tv and the roommate doesn’t. Perhaps the roommate doesn’t watch as much tv or play as many video games, or maybe he doesn’t care about the difference between a regular tv and a large plasma screen. Maybe he just doesn’t want to spend the money on that. Regardless, the priorities are different. My roommate wanted an air conditioner. I didn’t. I didn’t stop her from getting one, but I wouldn’t help her pay for it or install it (I have split the bill since it cools our common area and there’s no way to split it without being overly nitpicky than I want. I don’t turn it on when she’s not there but I do benefit from the cool air when she turns it on, so I pay the small increase in electricity as a concession to living with another person. I’m still paying less than I would to live alone).

    Second, it’s none of John’s business how much his roommate has in savings and what he prefers to spend it on. John is comfortable with a $5000 emergency fund; his roommate is more comfortable with several times that. How can John presume to say that his roommate spend some of that money for a purchase that the roommate doesn’t even want up front? If the roommate was frequently borrowing money for food or late for rent with this savings tucked away, John might have reason to say something about it…but for a luxury purchase, no way. If the tables were turned and the roommate wanted the tv, would John be willing to split the cost, or would he argue that the roommate has more in savings so should pay for the whole thing up front?

    To directly answer John’s question, yes, I think it’s wrong to feel that his roommate should contribute to a television that he wants, regardless of the roommate’s financial situation. The roommate said no, end of story. This is not the same as the electric bill, or even cable/internet. John needs to take a look at what he’s expecting to get out of having a roommate and allow the roommate to set some clear boundaries (ie, that they will or will not share food, etc) since his potential roommate has fairly different priorities.

  8. Ms. Clear says:

    As a proud owner of a hand-me-down thirteen inch TV from 2002, I’ve gotta agree with the roommate here.

    Want to save money?

    Don’t buy stuff you don’t need. No one needs one of those monstrosities.

  9. Jessica says:

    I agree that people shouldn’t go into joint purchases together beyond bills because it can get too complicated. If John wants a tv he should just buy it himself, and he’ll get exactly what he wants.

    John may want to consider just not living with his best friend-the tv could be just one of many situations they’d have a different opinon on.

    Best friends can make the worst roomates sometimes. You can love a person dearly but not be able to stand living with them. It just might be better to stay friends and live with different people.

  10. Dan says:

    “Splitting” a TV sounds like an awful idea. Awful, awful, awful. Awful.

    In my experience, roommates do not remain best friends, so at some point these guys are going to have hundreds of dollars of resentment between them and a big, stupid, depreciated TV (a TV!!) to show for it.

  11. Dutra says:

    “Now, my main question has to do with him and his savings account”.

    If this guy didn’t know how much money his roommate had in savings, there wouldn’t be a plasma TV in his dreams.
    Nobody needs to know how much money you have in the bank (except IRS).

  12. Robin says:

    Yup, I agree with mostly everyone else. Sharing large purchases is a bad idea in a roommate situation.

  13. benp says:

    I think its a little more complicated than people are making it out. Living together requires lots of communal items (cookware, furniture, vacuum cleaners, etc..) that necessarily will get wear and tear. If one person provides most of these then they can feel used. I also wouldn’t say that splitting the TV is a free loan, because the roommate would get to use the TV. You live with roommates to save money, but there are extra costs associated roommates needed to create a communal living environment.

    I do think its a bad idea to purchase a tv together (all I though I know situations where it worked out great) because of the expense, and thinks its fine for the roommate to say no, but they shouldn’t “flip out”.

    I would recommend living with friends. You at least know what you are getting in to, whether they want a swing’n bachelor pad or temporary frugal apartment. The fact that John lacks empathy for his “best friend” (and even asked about the TV in first place) makes me assume that this is kind of normal in their world. If his roommate is the kind of guy who would be excited to host lots of events around the TV (Football, movies etc) then he is cheap for not trying to make their apartment a better place.

    Yes you can save a lot of money/time by not watching TV, but most guys in their 20′s like watching TV (whats new and funny in your 20′s, becomes old and repetitive in your 30′s) and like being social. A TV can actually be pretty social if you have a lot of single friends and frugal too if it keeps you out of bars.

    Also the 15-20k is savings sounds more like a house fund than an emergency fund.

  14. disavow says:

    @benp:
    Agreed that usage seems like a big factor. If the roommate doesn’t watch TV and is just as happy without it, then he shouldn’t have to pitch in. But if he’d benefit as much as John, then he should pony up, if only to be paid back later.

    Worrying about $400-500 out of $20,000 in savings does seem a tad neurotic, but except for shared responsibilities, it’s the roomie’s to spend. Even if it’s ultimately spent on padded walls.

  15. justin says:

    Never joint buy things, shared groceries and bills is one thing, but who gets the TV when people move out? Who pays to replace it when broken by the roomies friend? There are all sorts of issues that will come up.

  16. George says:

    $500 out of $20,000 is 6 months interest. That’s a fairly long time to recover it! And I agree that bank balances aren’t your roomate’s business.

    I’m with the other posters and feel that TVs aren’t a shared expense. Someone should one it outright and the right to watch it is negotiated.

  17. catherine says:

    John needs to realise he has a roommate, not a wife/husband. Don’t make joint purchases with someone you have no legal relationship with. If John wants a tv, buy one. If he doesn’t want his roommate to watch it, then either lose the roommate, don’t buy the tv, or keep it in his room. But think of it this way: if he already owned the tv when the roommate moved in, would he seriously stop him from watching it?

    In a shared accommodation arrangement, if you want something, buy it yourself. If you don’t want to share viewing privileges for free then don’t buy it. But don’t expect your roommate to subsidise your wish-list.

    It’s not relevant nor is it any of John’s business how much money the roommate has in savings or anywhere else.

  18. Chris says:

    John just doesn’t seem to get it. One does not become financially stable by spending money on needless crap when they are young. And, 20K isn’t that much in savings or investment but, it is a good start.

    Also, whole concept of having to negotiating viewing time on a tv in a shared place is one of the most retarded things I have ever heard. I suppose they would have to renegotiate couch and table time as well. Retarded.

    Thank god I never had to live with someone like this.

  19. tom bar says:

    John is ridiculous.

    His sense of entitlement to his roommates cash reserves is incredibly outrageous.

    After reading about the account balances I can’t help but think what is so sacrosanct about John’s 5 thousand in the bank that can’t be touched but somehow his roommates 20 thousand is immanently tapable for the cash.

    If he’s going to pay his roommate back at the end of the year why can’t John use his own money and pay himself back at the end of the year?

    Answer: He doesn’t want to screw with his persona l savings but he’s perfectly willing to pressure his roommate into screwing with his 20k bundle just because it’s more than John personally has. (Entitlement issue pure and simple)

    I agree with the comment that this would just be the start for John. Within a few days of owning the TV he would likely order every HD package from his cable provider, and likely expect his roommate to foot half the bill.

    I also agree that John and his roommate aren’t going to be a good match for roommates. John already has a sense of entitlement that’s out in left field, and appears peeved because his roommate isn’t giving in to John’s luxury desires. What happens when John wants a new couch, coffee table, dining room set etc.? It’s not looking good for his roommate.

  20. Matt says:

    It’s his money he can do what he wants with it. Being cheap would be trying to weasel his way out of things like rent and utilities or stealing your food when he has the money to pay for it.
    But not splitting a 1000 dollar TV? That’s up to him.

    I wouldn’t buy a plasma tV right now. Am I cheap? I don’t think so because buying one would put me in debt. My roomate wants cable, however I rarely watch TV and I don’t want cable. Solution? My roomate pays all of the cable bill and I don’t watch it. Is that cheap?

  21. Liz1 says:

    I have to admit that I would never buy a plasma tv. However, I really enjoyed this letter and blog post. It reminded me of the many cheapskates I have known.

    Once I went out to dinner with a big group, and I ended up with a separate check because there had been a problem with my food. On the big check, one of the entrees and drinks was inadvertently left off the bill. Rather than tell the waiter, the people I was with got into an impassioned argument over how to split the bill.

    Or a friend I had who would go out to dinner with me, and when it was her turn to order would choose water and a side salad. So of course I ended up compensating in the tip, etc.

    Living in a group house where the majority (not me) decided to keep the thermostat at 58 in the winter, and the first person up (me 100% of the time as I swam before work) would turn it up to 60 so that the others could stand to get out of bed.

    John’s friend doesn’t owe him half of a tv, particularly if he doesn’t like watching tv and would never buy it for himself. But I hope they have a discussion before moving in together about how they will furnish the place and split expenses. John will definitely find out this year whether the friend is frugal or cheap, and won’t need to ask any of us.

  22. benp says:

    I still think people are being too hard on john. Either he’s really off base, or we should at least give some credence to his opinion about not just any friend but his *best* friend.

    John should really have a sense of how much TV his *best* friend watches and what kind of utility he would get out of it. If his best friend is saying a new plasma would be really sweet for the apartment, but says he doesn’t have the money to share the cost then that is a little bit of disconnect. Maybe he means he wants to save his money for a house etc (which is perfectly reasonable), maybe he thinks he can get his John to purchase the TV on his own so will get to watch it for free, which is also fine IMO, if the roommate also makes an effort to contribute to the shared living situation in other ways, otherwise he is being cheap.

  23. Liz1 says:

    benp–
    I agree with you, and was trying to say the same thing in my comment by using anecdotes. Some people are really cheap and try to take advantage even of friends and to freeload so that they can have a big savings account (or spend their money elsewhere).
    Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing if that is the case with John’s friend. John probably already has an inkling, and if they do become roommates, he will know.
    Usually you wouldn’t ask a friend to go in on a big expense out of nowhere. I think it is a little harsh to say that the roommate could see it as an interest free loan. John and friend will be sharing a place and if they are both tv buffs, the friend will be freeloading if he doesn’t share the cost for the tv, even if in the end a more modest tv were purchased. If a friend talked to me about an expense like that, or if my husband did, I wouldn’t have a tantrum. We would discuss it in a reasoned way, and try to come up with a solution.

  24. Al says:

    Whatever you do have a signed contract. You don’t even need a lawyer but that would be best. Just sign something stating the terms and probably have a witness sign also and then get it copied and notorized. Put it in a safe place, maybe give it to your parents to put in a safe deposit box. I’ve seen enough Judge Judy to know that doing this deal will come back to haunt you.

  25. Mander says:

    Why doesn’t John just take the extra $400 or $500 dollars out of his emergency fund? That’s what he’s asking his friend to do. Just because his friends fund is bigger doesn’t mean he can use it for non-emergencies. And I can’t think of any reason for a plasma tv to be considered an emergency.

  26. "John" says:

    Hey, “John” here. I’m glad my letter was featured here and I enjoyed reading the responses.

    Who knows if anyone who has commented will come back and read my comment, but I figured I’d just clear some stuff up.

    First of all, in regards to the “best friends” and “roommates” situation: this is really my best friend, and we’ve been roommates since freshman year of college (that’s when we met). We graduated last year, and now are itching to get another place together. So there’s no worry about us hating eachother or anything, we know what we’re getting into.

    About the TV and why I want it, why he doesn’t. I think a lot of you are thinking I want some huge extravagant 50″ plasma TV, which I don’t. I’d be happy with anything from say.. 27″ to 32″. That’s what I’m going for. And I don’t plan on buying any kind of expensive crazy home theater system. I’m not a hardcore electronics buff, I just thought it would be cool to have a nice TV to, as someone said, entertain people, watch DVDs, and play XBox360.

    My roommate has the same video game playing/TV/DVD watching habits that I do, he just feels that he needs to save as much as he can because he’s scared that he’s not gonna be able to pay his college loans. He comes from a family that is very particular with their money (for example, THEY just bought a brand new 42″ or so plasma TV, but they were replacing the first TV they ever owned when they came to the states, in the 80s).

    It’s not really a matter of me not knowing his likes/dislikes/priorities. We know eachother really well, this was just an idea I threw out there. I already knew his answer would probably be no, but I wanted to ask just incase.

    And yes, I planned on buying the other half from him at the end of the year when our lease was up. Someone might say I should just go ahead and buy it all myself, maybe they’re right.

    In regards to what someone said about my emergency fund being too small or whatever… I’m 23. I just gradauted last year. I’ve had a “real” job for only a little over a year. I’m saving and adding to the fund as much as I can, but it’s not like I’ve had much time to pad it up.

    Maybe I need to rethink my priorities and whatnot, maybe a new TV isn’t what I need to be spending my money on, but it was just an idea that I thought would make our apartment that much better.

    In the end, we probably won’t end up getting the TV. Or maybe I/we will hold off for a while and see what happens later. Again, I appreciate all the input.

    “John”

  27. Mio says:

    Ha! That’s why one has 20.000 in savings and the other doesn’t. Now who is being smart here!! What a ridiculous amount to spend on a TV anyway!

  28. Rob says:

    It is not a $500 interest-free loan. After all, the roommate gets to enjoy the TV, too. Assuming that by keeping the $500 the roommate could have made 10% on it, it’s more like renting a $1000 TV for a year for $50. This is a pretty good deal.

  29. devil says:

    John doesn’t want a roommate, he wants a wife. It sounds like John is making his potential roommate nervous with all these sharing issues.

    John seems to think that there is something wrong with his friend because said friend doesn’t have the exact same priorities that John does. Maybe the friend thinks John is foolhardy in his spending?

    If John’s friend is smart, he’ll run away as fast as his feet can carry him.

  30. Marilyn says:

    I think the posts here have clearly been skewed in the direction of people who would never spend the money of a large TV themselves, much less to split with a roommate. I want to chime in as a person who has a) had many roommates over the years, and b) is awaiting shipment of a new plasma (actually LCD) TV.
    While I think it is perfectly fine for the roommate to not want to buy a TV, I would peel away the answer a bit to see why. Is it because he will not use and enjoy it, therefore not making it worth his money? Or is it because he knows John will buy it anyway, giving him a free ride?
    I have two brothers on opposite sides of the money spectrum – one would buy the TV without ever asking for money from anyone; the other would never, ever, contribute to such a purchase, but will happily plant himself in front of it for the big game, or Wii tournaments, or whatever.
    That said, I would never be a roommate with the cheap brother, because the behavior is the same whether on a TV, dinners out (he is a lousy tipper, I always overtip to compensate for his share), or holiday gift giving (that we have since stopped. If their views on money are very different (and who is to say which is the RIGHT one?), then it could be a difficult year or more of living together and having constant clashes (or teeth grinding when no argument actually ensues).

  31. daydreamr says:

    THe way John talks about it, spending $1000 on a TV is nothing. Why does it have to be a big screen plasma? Does one of them already have a TV they can put in the common area? If they need a TV for the living room why not split the cost of a $500 TV? And it actually isn’t a good idea to go in on things toghether except rent and utilities. If john wants it that bad then maybe he should but the big screen TV and let the other guy buy the microwave.

    The other one seems a lot more sensible and I think John is jealous. It isn’t his business but he analyzes his buddies income and savings and thinks he’s entitled to it. He certainly won;t have 20thou sitting in the bank w/his attitude and spending habits. There are underlying issues that are going to set them up for failure.

    It;s not just about the big TV. Who’s gonna watch it? What if his buddy does’t watch mutch TV? I don’t watch my TV so when a friend came over and we watched a few movies one time, my power bill went up about $20. Is it fair to split the power bill in half when John is watching it and sucking up the juice? And their is the noise factor and the cable bill, and what if John doesn’t do his share of the chores because he’s vegged out in front of the big a** TV.

    My suggestion? If John wants it then he can save up and buy it. He can put it in his room or out in the living room. He should allow his roomie to watch it as he pleases, not putting any guilt trips on him. They can share things that will be in the common areas, like if John has a kitchen table, dishes, a couch, and the other guy has a recliner, pots/pans, end tables, lamps, etc. they will share these until they move when they each take their belongings. When they split up, John can take his TV too.

  32. Beth says:

    I’ve had a number of roommates over the years and I agree that going in on a big expensive TV is not a great idea – one person should own it outright. If “John” wants to buy it and can afford, and if he won’t resent the roommate using “his” tv, then he should do it. It sounds like they’re good friends and will get through this okay.

    One thing that having roommates taught me about myself is that I resent it when my stuff isn’t treated well. So I stopped buying nice kitchen things, knowing I’d be supremely annoyed if they weren’t taken care of *my* way.

  33. "John" says:

    Wow. You all really have an animosity towards plasma TVs, and you also seem to enjoy making ridiculous assumptions about people you don’t know.

    I don’t think spending $1000 on a new TV is nothing. As I said, this was just an idea I had for once we got settled in. As a kind of “housewarming” gift for the both of us to enjoy.

    Yes we already have a TV we can use, but, being in our early 20s, both of us enjoy the benefits of new technology and the entertainment that such a device can bring into the apartment. He just doesn’t want to spend the money right now. I have no problem with that. I was only asking for Trent’s opinion.

    Let me repeat: I have no problem with that.

    I’ve received some good input here, and it’s got me to reevaluate the TV situation. I’ve never gone out and done the “new apartment” thing before, there is a learning process. This is something that maybe you all have taught me.

    I don’t know why I feel the need to defend myself, because I knew that this letter might get posted, I just feel that some of you are attacking me personally based on assumptions you’re making when you don’t even know the entire situation.

    Someone mentioned that I’m “dumb” (in so many words) because I only have $5000 in my emergency account when my friend has more than me. And somebody else mentioned that I’m jealous of this.

    Um, no.

    My situation is different than his. He’s had the ability to save up more money than me, and I say good for him. He’s had this savings going since high school, and I’ve never had a chance to put much money away. Not because I’ve spent it on random crap, but because of my situation and jobs I’ve had.

    And I’m not a jealous person at all, but again, you don’t know this because you don’t know me.

    “John seems to think that there is something wrong with his friend because said friend doesn’t have the exact same priorities that John does. . . If John’s friend is smart, he’ll run away as fast as his feet can carry him.”

    That’s one of the foolish comments I’m talking about. No, I don’t think there’s something wrong with my friend. I never implied that. I asked if there was something wrong with me; a genuine question. But never did I imply that about my friend. That’s a baseless assumption that shouldn’t be made.

    Sorry, I don’t mean to cause trouble or anything like that, I just feel that I need to defend some of these attacks. This discussion has definitely helped me though, so that’s good.

  34. Elaine says:

    I have never gone in on any purchases with any of my roommates. We share bills only. If she wants a new TV, she buys it. If I want a new vacuum or whatever, I’ll buy it. No hard feelings, that’s just how it works. Get your TV when you’ve got enough money for it and enjoy it :) No need to create drama.

  35. Imelda says:

    John, your letter is full of a sense of entitlement. Why on earth did you get upset that your roommate would not buy something that ONLY YOU wanted to buy?

    And the tone of your letter was clearly upset; you insulted your roommate–”There’s a difference between cheap and frugal, I know this. I’m frugal, but not cheap. I’m not so sure about him.”

    You also asked advice from Trent so you could “pass it along” to your roommate; not for yourself. So don’t try to claim that you “never implied there was something wrong” with your friend. Because you did. Blatantly. And repeatedly.

    I’ll be honest, I was offended by your letter. My opinion? You were being a jerk about this, and I don’t envy your roommate for having to live with you. It sounds like you were trying to bully him into buying something you wanted, because you know he has money.

    That’s a lousy thing to do, especially to someone who, as you just told us, has worked for so long to save this money.

  36. benp says:

    John,
    If you read this, out of curiosity, can you tell us what price range apartment you and *best* friend are looking at? Also can you give us an approximate % of the portion of community property you will be providing.

  37. Steve says:

    “Let me repeat: I have no problem with that.”

    Though of course, you consider him cheap for this, correct :)? Here you guys haven’t even moved in together, and you’ve already built up a negative story about him in your mind. I shudder to think what the poor fella’s going to be going through living with such a difficult person (judged difficult from the little view into this personality that these two letters have afforded us). What else are you planning to “gift” both of you? I can lay a bet you both are going to be up in arms in a short while. I see a horrid roommate situation here. To use your own words, not to judge you or anything. Just my impressions..

  38. "John" says:

    Ok, to respond to some things.

    The whole me calling him cheap is a running in joke type thing in our circle of friends, I guess really didn’t do a good job of getting that across in the letter, and probably shouldn’t have even mentioned it.

    I didn’t get upset that my roommate doesn’t want to go in on a TV, I just wanted to other opinions on the matter. Yeah, I was going to pass the info along to my roommate, and I still will.

    I’m not trying to bully him into anything. Like I said, all I was trying to do was get a second opinion. It’s not a life or death situation if we don’t get a nice TV, we already have a TV (that I’m bringing).

    And, in response to the question about what I’m bringing into the situation… A futon, microwave, TV and stand, kitchen table and chairs, many utensils and dishes, various decorative things. He’s bringing a George Foreman grill and maybe a loveseat. We’re gonna have to buy some new stuff to fill out the extra needs anyway, but I’m sure we’ll end up splitting that all up. Really, not that it matters, but someone asked.

    The apartment price we’re looking at is anything under $1200 a month (well, not like, $500 a month in some slum, though).

    It’s funny all the comments about horrid roommate situations, because what everyone fails to note is the wee bit about how we lived together for 4 years in college. We got along swimmingly, became best friends, shared things just fine with everyone and eachother, shared expenses, etc.

    I guess I can’t fault any of you for thinking I’m some jerk, because it’s not like you know me.

    This was just a random thing that I figured would benefit both of us, but I guess I was wrong in thinking that. If I want the TV I’ll buy it myself. I was going to buy his half later anyway, but maybe now I’ll just take some extra time to save the extra money. There’s no hard feelings or drama here.

  39. Baz L says:

    I don’t see what the big deal is. The dude doesn’t want a huge TV, what’s the problem? It is an interest-free loan for a year, because he doesn’t want a plasma TV. People just have different opinions on what’s important. If a roommate asked me to get a plasma I would probably laugh. They’re expensive and at the end of the day they’re gonna use more electricity.

    Now one problem is the differences with what each person is bringing into the apartment. John seems to be coming in with more stuff that his roommate. If this is a temporary situation, then it’s not a big deal; everyone just leaves with what they came with. But if these guys expect to be roommates for a while, then john’s roommate is basically getting free furniture.

    The roommate thing never really worked out well for me, except with my girlfriend.

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