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OT -- financial interdependency in relationships

Ok, I just want some opinions here.

My boyfriend and I have been together for three years. We are talking about marriage and children in the not so far future and all that goo stuff.

We are currently in the process of moving in together. Only problem is: he is making about twice as much money as I do (which is mainly due to the fact that I am still in school and can only work half time).

So at first he assumed we'd split rent 50/50, and kinda implied that since he makes more money, he could just give me gifts more often (like, buy me clothes if I am broke after paying the rent). I told him that I want a partner, not a sugar daddy.

I then suggested paying rent (and other expenses) based on our income (which I had kind of taken for granted given that we are committed and serious and almost 30 years of age, and which I had never questioned when it looked like he;d be unemployed and I offered to share my tiny pay check with him, no questions asked).

He said that, yes, that's something we could talk about, and he sees some good reason for that, yet he can totally see equally good arguments for going 50/50, but he'd do it for me.

I told him that under that circumstances, he can keep his money. I supported myself before and I'd rather be poor but self-sufficient than share a living with some guy who thinks he's doing me a favor.

What do you all think about that? Really, I'd appreciate feedback!

Thu. Mar 6, 1:39am

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Your plan...expenses based on percentages based on income sounds like the better way to go. Makes him not live in a shack and you not beholden to "sugar daddy."

Yeah this stuff is messy. It's hard to get it worked out. Also, men are paid better than women usually so it never really gets evened out.

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 3:34 AM

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My hubby and I earn comparrible incomes, so most stuff is kind of 50/50. I have college bills and credit cards to pay off, so he takes care of my car insurance and the cell phone bill. He also is willing to give me money whenever I need it. It's not a "here go get you some clothes..." It's more of a honey, here's some money because I know you're stuggling. I do the same for him too when he's tight on cash. A relationship shouldn't be about money. Especially if marriage is a thought. Hubby and I have built a strong relationship through give and take. He know's I'm there when he needs help, just like I know he's there when I do. Money is just a thing. A relationship is give and take. You have to be willing to work together. My hubby (at the time he was my boyfriend) lost his job about 2 months after we moved in together. I had to pay most of the bills, but I was also there to help him get his current job. We share bills, but we also aren't stingy with our money. Someday each of us need a little assistance. If he can't see that you are in the stage of low income, then tough. He shouldn't think he can live the "easy life" while you are struggling to come up with your half of the rent.
Good luck OP, hope you and your bf have a serious discussion about finances.

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 10:35 AM

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This is a tough situation, and I don't think it has to be a serious problem. Nor does it necessarily mean that he's selfish. My BF and I are in the same exact place: his family has some money and he has not only a bit more income, but also lots of savings just sitting there. While I do okay financially, I'm sitting under loads of education debt ... We're ready to get engaged and buy a condo, and he wants to split the down payment 50/50, and since I can barely contribute, we'd end up with a low down payment, worse mortgage rates, and his sizable savings account still intact and all "his." When I pointed this out, he suggested "loaning" me part of the down payment: essentially, we'd get a lower rate because he'd be able to contribute the full 20% down payment, but then I'd contribute more to the mortgage until we were even (even though my salary is lower). I could scream! I absolutely don't want to assume he should "take care of" me, but I also never envisioned that he would still see money as "his" and "mine" at the point we're getting married and buying a place together. On the other hand, I can understand his feeling a fundamental sense of unfairness about making up for my financial situation.

I'm going to buy a book on finances (see link below) and make him read it with me. You should do the same. I think all of us will benefit from thinking carefully about what is ahead, planning a future together, understanding where the other side is coming from, and having a full understanding of the alternatives and options. It will make us healthier emotionally and financially!


Thursday, March 06, 2008, 11:15 AM

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OP here... yes, it is tricky. I guess my main problem is the way it makes me feel. Throughout our entire relationship, I was always the one hurting on cash, but I never had him make up for it. I always insisted on paying my share, I still gave him presents, etc. Maybe he'd sometimes pay a bit more when we were out, but not too much. Moving in with me, he's getting a really good deal on housing (even if he'd pay a third of the rent, he'd still spend less than 1/4 of his income on rent, so he's not gonna hurt on money either way). Anyway, the entire time I didn't say anything, he was totally fine with splitting 50/50 and keeping a lot of money for himself. And then the one time I bring up that maybe we could split things in a way that does not only make him "profit" from our union, he gets defensive and concerned about his "financial interests" and makes me feel like some money-grabbing bitch. Awesome.

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 11:25 AM

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We don't have 'his' money and 'her' money. ALL of OUR money goes towards OUR household. There is no 'mine' and 'yours' there is only 'ours'. We each contribute 100% of our income. There are also not 'his' and 'hers' debts - there are only debts and we pay them at an accelerated rate, prioritized by interest rate, until they are gone. At this point we only have our mortgage outstanding. We could not have been as effective at this if we were not pooling our resources and determining our priorities as a team. This won't work for everyone, but it's been very effective for us.

Once we got married, his obligations became mine and vice versa. We sit down together every Sat morning and do our financial spreadsheet so we know how much we spent during the week and talk about upcoming expenses and projects and budgeting. We used to talk about what debts were outstanding and which ones would be the priority, but now we talk about our investments and he makes any adjustments based on what we decide. We each take out a set amount of cash per week as 'play' money that goes for frivolous stuff like coffee, magazines, etc... There are almost no purchases over $100 that we do not discuss and agree on, and it's not a big deal - we just consult each other because we value the other's opinion and to keep ourselves up-to-date on spending. For example if I intend to go shopping and buy a bunch of stuff for the kitchen (or go clothes shopping) I'll just let him know I'm going shopping, I expect to do some damage, and I'll try to keep it under $xx amount and he does the same.

The problem with ignoring the disparity in your incomes is that he essentially profits off your lesser earning potential to get ahead and adds additional financial challenges for you instead of trying to help you lighten your load (as a partner would). Not saying he is conciously thinking this, but that is what is effectively going to happen with a 50/50 split. This is what is irritating you and for good reason. It also reduces your roles in the relationship to the dollar amounts you each contribute, and that diminishes each of you as people with an intangible value of your own who contribute far more than money to this union. Will there be a dollar amount on each household task too?

Best wishes to you both on arriving at a fair and equitable arrangment that doesn't make one of you feel taken advantage of. Not meaning to sound patronizing, but your ability to navigate this as a couple will likely be the most important issue you'll work through. In our case, we're so in-synch financially as couple that it was a non-event, but that's not generally the case. However, I found our views on money were very indicative of how in-sync we were with regard to values, communication and priorites in general.

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 1:25 PM

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I AM YOU!!!! My boyfriend and I (3years) have been living together for about 2 1/2 years now. He makes more than I and I've always been in debt, due to school and living expenses (as I moved out when I was 17 - now 28). When we decided to move in together we decided to stay on a side of town that we both liked but is a little pricey. I knew we would be going into this 50/50 which scared me as a I had more personal bills than he to pay. I also knew if this relationship didn't work out, my name would be on a lease that I couldn't afford on my own. (We didn't put his name on the lease as he was in between jobs at the time we moved - he had savings yet no income to show to the leasing office). So YES, I was scared.

Now 2 years of living together, things have been okay. We've kept our own separate bank accounts, and we split everything that is OURS 50/50.....the car, insurance, rent, utilities, groceries. I then budget what I have left for my personal bills. I got myself into the mess, I don't expect him to get me out. BUT, if I need money for gas or lunch or whenever I'm a little tight, he gives me money and doesn't expect me to pay it back. And there have been times when I do the same for him. We now live where if one of us is in a little bit of need the other just takes care of it. And if one of us wants to make a large purchase or need to spend a large amount of money, we discuss it. To me its about support, trust, and honesty.......its about being IN a relationship. Especially since we too, talk about our future.

I think you need to make sure that you are looking to move into a place that you can afford your 50 of everything. And make sure that you two have a serious conversation about the finances you have and that will occur. If you are looking towards the future, then this conversation shouldn't be should be HONEST. I hope things work out for you.....Its not an easy situation, but if you keep your communication with him open and honest about how you feel, I think it will all be okay.

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 1:55 PM

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my husband and i have OUR money as well, but we also keep our own stashes of "fun money" that we make on our own. for instance i cater with a friend of mine and make a decent chunk of cash and he gets bounuses at work twice a year. that money is for the fun stuff, like my handbags and his videogame stuff. occasionally, we go halfsies and make big purchases with the "fun money" so it doesn't impact our normal budget.

in your situation, i would stick to your plan with percentages of income. just in case something bad hapens, keep your money seperate in seperate accounts. after you get married, then funnel it all together and since he's your husband you shouldn't feel like it's a sugar daddy situation.

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 1:56 PM

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I think 1:25 is 100% right.

I would add, myself, that if your finances are not being managed to benefit you (that's PLURAL "you") as a couple, this guy is your roommate and nothing more. If you have a future together, the two of you should be talking about how to maximize your finances down the line (by doing things like paying off high-interest debts, and focussing on career development for both of you), not worrying about who is paying what and who is being taken advantage of.

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 2:09 PM

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My boyfriend and I are moving together - VERY similar situation. He makes literally 10X as much as I do. We are splitting the rent and electic/water 50/50 - but he is going to pick up the cable bill, and he pays pretty much every time we go out to eat, buys me random stuff I want, etc.
Right now he lives in a house with a friend who is in school and he give her a SCREAMING deal on her rent (she pays less than 1/3 - he pays the rest). I am jealous that this girl has gotten to take advantage of him having all this extra money to spend on housing - but also I do not want to have him resent me the way he resents her for it.
I am just going to suck it up, be poor, and know that in the long run (when I am out of school) we will be balanced out.

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 2:22 PM

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Amy Tan has a great story about this kind of living arrangement and where it can lead in her book "Joy Luck Club."

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 2:33 PM

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My husband and I are like the 1:25 poster. Several years ago my husband made quite a bit more money than me but came home, handed me his paycheck and I took care of all the bills. Both checks were pooled into the same checking account, not considered his OR hers. Now I am the one who makes about 4 times what he makes (not his fault, we moved to a state where the incomes are much lower but moved for my job so my salary came with me) and we still do the same thing. What's mine is his and what's his is mime. That's a marriage,,, sharing!

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 4:02 PM

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My best advice would be not to live with someone before you are married to them. This is not coming from a moral standpoint either, but financially it just gets really messy. And it sounds like most of you women end up on the hurting end of things. This arangement does not benefit you and it could lead you to financial ruin....or close to it. Be careful, you know what is a good deal and what is a bad deal. When a boyfriend puts you in that situation, have enough respect for yourself to say thanks, but no thanks.

Also, if you are thinking of getting married to this man in the future. When you live with someone before you get married, the marraige has almost half the chance to survive than if you didnt. (someone told me that statistic the other day, i was suprised).

Thursday, March 06, 2008, 4:54 PM

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