Make It Stop: “My Rich Roommate Is Cheap About Paying His Bills!”

My roommate inherited a ton of money from his parents, but every time he has to pay a utility bill or rent, I basically have to fight with him to get it. How do I break this pattern (and deal with my own working-girl resentment about his wealth)?

What kind of immature monster do you live with? What did he think he was agreeing to when he moved in with someone else? Was he unaware that he’d have to pay rent a dozen times a year? And if he has so much money, why is he living with other people? You’d think he’d want to burrow underground and have his own Bruce Wayne-esque bat cave instead of dodging gas bills once a month.

Does he agree that this rent haggling is a problem? I can’t imagine he enjoys you nagging him. What solution does he propose? Would it make a difference if some bills were in his name?

Tell him you refuse to fight with him about paying bills. If he can’t pay his bills on time, he shouldn’t enjoy the roommate arrangement. Lay out the consequences. If he continues to pay his bills late, then you won’t renew the lease with him.

I’m going to be honest, this doesn’t sound like a roommate destined for the books. He sounds irresponsible and disrespectful, two unacceptable qualities in a roommate. There are plenty of people who need a room and who will pay on time. Unless he has some other magical roommate qualities like he keeps the place constantly stocked with top-shelf liquor and fancy cheeses and encourages you to partake in both, I’d make other arrangements as soon as you can. Life is too short to fight with a roommate over something as basic as paying bills on time.

The next issue is how to feel about his money. Let’s get one thing straight: money is a tool. It has the potential to make some things easier, but cash isn’t a substitute for dignity, intellect, or compassion. In fact, a lot of times, money can be a hindrance. Have you ever watched those reality shows on TLC about lottery winners and how their lives crumbled once they collected their windfall? Their familial relationships suffered. Their friendships fractured. Most of the lottery winners wished they could give the money back because it had been nothing but a destructive force. Sure, it was fun to buy some new TVs, a flashy sports car and a boat, but after that, the money bred resentment and paranoia. There’s a reason the saying “mo’ money, mo’ problems” exists because money taints relationships.

Sure, your roommate has financial security, but it’s entirely possible that he might mismanage his inheritance and lose it all. Or, he might rely on his pot o’ gold to glide through life and never develop the kind of skills that make one’s life truly richer, like humility, empathy, and determination.

Because you don’t have a lot of money, you work harder to succeed and you stay vigilant for opportunities. You gain self-confidence and pride through your hard work. That mindset, those experiences, shape your character. In the long run, your roommate’s small fortune might put him at a disadvantage because he never had to have that mindset. He might be stunted as a result, never enjoying fulfilling relationships with others and, more importantly, with himself.

Do some rich people use their time to seek out character-shaping opportunities, of course. All I’m saying is that it’s harder to do. I mean, look at your roommate. He doesn’t respect paying your bills on time. Is it a symptom of his wealth or a flawed personality trait, I can’t tell from your question, but something’s off with him. Instead of feeling resentment that he has a trust fund, feel grateful that you aren’t cursed to rely on cash you didn’t earn to navigate through your life.

Make It Stop is a weekly column in which Anna Goldfarb — author of “Clearly, I Didn’t Think This Through” and the blogger behind the blog, Shmitten Kitten — tells you what’s up. Want a fresh take on a stinky dilemma? Email [email protected] with the subject “Make It Stop.” She’ll make it all better, or at least make you laugh. Girl Scout’s honor.