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College Roommate Food Fights

Whether you are heading to college this fall for the very first time or a returning student, there are always plenty of decisions – what courses to take, major, minor, how much to borrow, how much to work – but one big, big choice is whether you will live in a dorm and purchase a food plan or whether you’ll live off campus and share food costs with a roommate. Either way, let the food fights begin!


I recall hearing of one student, off to school and eager to take it all in and on. She had decided to live with roommates off campus. She enjoyed having the company in the evenings and the freedom away from campus and dorm rules. The roommates made a deal to purchase groceries in round robin – 4 roommates, so each would purchase the food for the week once per month. Seemed easy.

But about three weeks into the plan, it was clear that the roommates had definitely grown up with different tastes in food, different knowledge and ability when it came to purchasing and preparing food, and very different appreciation for healthy eating. Oops. One week the group ate good fruits and veggies and healthy meals prepared daily. The next week, the cupboard was full of potato chips and cookies and not a whole lot else of substance. And so it went. Intervention time!

Once the group sat down and discussed the dilemma, it was obvious that each was pretty stuck in her own habits and tastes. As a result, the roommates had to make different decisions about living arrangements the next term. Sad story, but a true story.

Lesson – it’s critical to discuss how money will be spent and who will be responsible for what if living with roommates in college. And, when it comes to food expenses, it goes so far beyond just the money. It goes to tastes, habits, health considerations and how baked in those values and habits are. The key is always thoughtful and candid conversations before taking on roommates. All the fun of having friends around can be spoiled, and so will a lot of food!

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About Sharon Cabeen

Sharon is an award winning Accredited Financial Counselor, AFC® who has helped clients with budget counseling, debt repayment strategies, and financial education for over 35 years. Her passion is assisting people as they embark on life choices and transitions that involve their personal finances. Recently retired, Sharon is enjoying a successful transition to a slower and simpler pace, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, and the opportunity to try new kitchen creations.
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