Roommate Rift: The Cable Bill

As if simply sharing financial burdens isn't enough fuel in the fire of roommate fights, sometimes things can get even more complicated than getting your roommates to pay their fair share. One common source of financial disagreement among roommates is paying for non-essential utilities. Once upon a time this included wifi, however today most people consider an internet connection a must have. Now one of the most frustrating bills to share is the cable bill.

Let's use this common example: Two roommates move into an apartment. One roommate, Sally, does not watch television. The other, Jenn, is bringing her big screen TV and wants the deluxe cable package. Since Sally doesn't want to pay for something that she won't use, Jenn agrees to pay the full cable bill. After a few weeks of living together, Jenn begins to take notice that Sally often sits on the couch with her while she watches her favorite shows.

Sally's rational is that "it doesn't cost Jenn any extra money on the cable bill if I happen to also watch a few episodes of Game of Thrones or True Detectives each week." While Jenn is thinking "it is not fair that I pay $115 every month while Sally gets to enjoy these shows for free."

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What do you think?  It is right for Jenn's roommate to take advantage of cable package she said she didn't want and isn't paying for? Is Sally's thought process right or is she just a mooch? Should Sally offer to chip in? Does Jenn have the right to complain or confront Sally even those she agreed to pay the cable bill and could have potential foreseen that this situation was a possibility?

Some solutions to this dilemma are:
  • Have all roommates split the cost of the most basic cable package. If a roommate wants an upgrade, they can front the difference themselves 
  • Move the TV out of the common area and into an area that only the cable paying roommates use
  • Agree on a comprise package that has cost/features that everyone can live with
  • They could have came up with a roommate agreement about TV usage and bill payments when they initially had their TV discussion, preventative measures could have been used to avoid this conflict
There are many ways to approach this kind of problem, but it is best to face these issues head on and to write down clear and strict rules that are agreed upon by all roommates!

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