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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

I'm at a bit of an impasse here, both in terms of what is fair and what I should do. I looked over the "financial problems in marriage" section, but didn't find anything helpful.

What I'm looking for are fair suggestions I can make on how my partner and I can share our financial burden after she goes back to work.

here is our situation:
  • engaged but not married, and with no plans to get married.
  • One child together (approx. 1 year old).
  • If we pooled our earnings, I'd bring home about 69% of our income, she 31% of it. I make a little more than twice what she makes, and she's likely at the top of her profession in terms of income, and may even make less than what she was making when she goes back to work.
She's been out of work since a month before the baby was born last year, and our plans are for her to be a stay at home mom for another year, until our baby is 2.

When we agreed to live together, our discussions about splitting $$$ were less cordial than I would have liked. We worked out that she'd pay about 1/6 of our rent, and split all other expenses in half. And she'd pay her own car and personal expenses. We ended up arguing a lot over what sort of place we'd rent together, and it made a difficult job impossible and lead me to miss out on some properties I could have easily bought myself, leading me to have second thoughts on the whole enterprise. But then a month later she was pregnant, and so I was not able to call it off w/out being a total heel... and that arrangement didn't last very long before her money ran out and I was paying everything, which over the last year, I've been racking up a lot of cc debt to keep up with bills.

Going forward, I'm thinking we just pay bills propotionally, according to take home pay. This still puts more of a burden on me (I'd carry our child on my health insurance), but I can manage it. And we put a 1 year "moratorium" on travel or big purchases to pay off the cc debt that I've been racking up. And she helps me with that.

I'm curious how other co-habiting couples here - married or not - manage this. And what works and what doesn't.
 

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Hi All,

I'm at a bit of an impasse here, both in terms of what is fair and what I should do. I looked over the "financial problems in marriage" section, but didn't find anything helpful.

What I'm looking for are fair suggestions I can make on how my partner and I can share our financial burden after she goes back to work.

here is our situation:
  • engaged but not married, and with no plans to get married.
  • One child together (approx. 1 year old).
  • If we pooled our earnings, I'd bring home about 69% of our income, she 31% of it. I make a little more than twice what she makes, and she's likely at the top of her profession in terms of income, and may even make less than what she was making when she goes back to work.
She's been out of work since a month before the baby was born last year, and our plans are for her to be a stay at home mom for another year, until our baby is 2.

When we agreed to live together, our discussions about splitting $$$ were less cordial than I would have liked. We worked out that she'd pay about 1/6 of our rent, and split all other expenses in half. And she'd pay her own car and personal expenses. We ended up arguing a lot over what sort of place we'd rent together, and it made a difficult job impossible and lead me to miss out on some properties I could have easily bought myself, leading me to have second thoughts on the whole enterprise. But then a month later she was pregnant, and so I was not able to call it off w/out being a total heel... and that arrangement didn't last very long before her money ran out and I was paying everything, which over the last year, I've been racking up a lot of cc debt to keep up with bills.

Going forward, I'm thinking we just pay bills propotionally, according to take home pay. This still puts more of a burden on me (I'd carry our child on my health insurance), but I can manage it. And we put a 1 year "moratorium" on travel or big purchases to pay off the cc debt that I've been racking up. And she helps me with that.

I'm curious how other co-habiting couples here - married or not - manage this. And what works and what doesn't.
When my wife and I were living together before we were married, we simply split all the household bills down the middle. We added up rent, utilities (variables were estimated with buffer) and each paid half. Set amount every month.
We each paid for our own vehicles, clothes, personal items, etc. I don’t remember how we handled groceries.
Bear in mind, this was over 20 years ago and we were just out of college.

I was making about 25% more than her at the time.
If you’re not married and you’re renting, I don’t think your income disparity should really come in to play here.
You should not be living up to your means anyway while renting, so I don’t see any reason not to split the rent/utilities down the middle.
 

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I think proportional sounds fair. I also think that when you are asking another person to pay a portion of the bill then both parties get a say in how big the bill gets.

Does she know that you have racked up cc debt? That isn't healthy in terms of money management.

Why bother calling yourself engaged if you have no plans to marry. That's called shacking up not engaged.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I just bought us a house. Completely in my name. Attorney said if we split up, there would be no question it would remain mine.

Yes, she knows about the CC debt. We've had lots of fights about money over the last year.

In her defense, she tried to save up before we moved in, because (she claimed) she didn't want to have to ask me to pay her own expenses, like her car and cell phone. She's not terrible about money, but - in my opinion - more naive than she should be at her age. We're both over 40.

She ended up blowing through her savings much faster than she expected. That's where the naivete comes into play, in my opinion. She should have known that we needed to be frugal when we moved in together, but instead I could tell she was still spending money like it wasn't a finite quantity for her.

Our fights about money come into effect because she is just not realistic about how much things cost & how pricey it gets when you shop online and eat out.

The rising cost of living where we're at has made this all much worse as well, and was not fully expected when we agreed to move in together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Are you financially prepared in case she decides she isn’t going back to work?
Well... yes and no. Yes, if we cut out all travel & eating out, we could make it work. HOWEVER, I'm not saving much, if anything, and contributing nothing to my 401K. And we're one disaster away from having to borrow money from parents to pay for expenses. Like... a car accident or medical issue would be devastating right now.

I had a decent chunk of money saved, but put it all on a downpayment for the house. FWIW The new house will - in theory - save money each month, even though the mortgage payments are about the same as what we're paying for rent, but the utilities should be cheaper because it's smaller and newer than the monstrous suburban house we're renting now.

My concern with her is that when she does go back to work, she's going to argue that a bigger chunk of the money she makes is hers than if we split expenses based on income.

I'm prepared to put my foot down over this, because - at our age - it's time to start saving in a big way for retirement and college expenses (I also have kids from a prior marriage). So I'm reaching out to the board in hopes that I can find a solution that is fair, but if she refuses to go along with or reneges on her obligations, I can... well... I'm not sure it will result in us separating, but it would certainly make our r/s not workable long term. I don't know. Not sure what the "stick" will be if we can't work this out amicably.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
When my wife and I were living together before we were married, we simply split all the household bills down the middle. We added up rent, utilities (variables were estimated with buffer) and each paid half. Set amount every month.
We each paid for our own vehicles, clothes, personal items, etc. I don’t remember how we handled groceries.
Bear in mind, this was over 20 years ago and we were just out of college.

I was making about 25% more than her at the time.
If you’re not married and you’re renting, I don’t think your income disparity should really come in to play here.
You should not be living up to your means anyway while renting, so I don’t see any reason not to split the rent/utilities down the middle.
I don't think a 50/50 split is okay, since I make so much more than her. But some percentage split probably needs to happen.

And while I'm prepared to be "chivalrous" about expenses (and have been) at some point she needs to start pulling her weight here.
We, married, are "one pot" people. It's not my money or her money, it's ours. (We do have separate bank and credit card accounts, but it's still ours collectively.)
that's the simplest solution. But not an option for me.

Even if I do marry again, I would not do that initially, not until I can fully trust that I see how she behaves through thick and thin, and trust that she has our mutual interest in mind when she decides how to manage money.
 

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I just bought us a house. Completely in my name. Attorney said if we split up, there would be no question it would remain mine.
Well that kind of changes everything dude. Not sure if that was unclear or if I just didn’t read your OP closely enough.

If you’re living in a house that will remain yours if you split up, then the mortgage is yours to pay. I wouldn’t contribute to a mortgage for a house that I had no equity in.

In this case, split all of the household expenses (other than the mortgage) and child-related expenses and leave it at that.
 

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If you’re living in a house that will remain yours if you split up, then the mortgage is yours to pay. I wouldn’t contribute to a mortgage for a house that I had no equity in.

In this case, split all of the household expenses (other than the mortgage) and child-related expenses and leave it at that.
This is basically how I did it when I had fellas live with me in a house that I owned (minus child expenses, no kids). I covered the mortgage and all home maintenance/repair costs, the ongoing utility expenses were split between us. To avoid a constant "Uh, I need $52 from you for the gas bill..." I worked out a fixed average monthly cost, just like rent. We covered our own vehicle expenses and the pets were mine so I paid for their upkeep. Groceries we both chipped in roughly equally although each of us also bought things for ourselves that the other one didn't eat, like lunch stuff if he was bringing a packed lunch to work.
 

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In my household I always been the breadwinner, and for the first 14 years of my oldest daughter my wife was a stay home mom.
lately my wife is inching closer to my earnings, but certainly she will never outearn me, until I retire in a couple of year. Having said that, we have never ever said this is my money or your money. It always been our money, the household money. Never ever I made my wife feel less or give her any impediment to touch money when she wanted some for herself or to help a family member.

Money is if I'm not mistaken the number one factor for relationships ending.
I just can't think on terms of this is my money and this is your money. That's already a separation of the individuals in a relationship. One step closer to part ways.

To me if you are going to create a union were children will be born, then it should be one pot for the benefit of the whole. The this is mine and this is yours is kind of petty. I can see when wealth is involved and both partners are protecting their assets. But regular people should strive for economical union.

I understand that is different when second marriages with both partners bringing children into the union, but that's another beast altogether, but not too far away from the concept of one family with shared resources.
 

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From the beginning, it was "our" money. Before we got married we had joint accounts, it was his idea. I was the one hesitant to combine, because even though I made more money then I knew he would out-earn me in time. He has, he makes about 3-4 times what I make (commission sales, it's variable). If it were up to me, it would still be separate, but he believed that it should be "our" money because we're a "team." As things wind down, I wish more and more we'd followed your model and kept those lines drawn. We're building a house, and when our son graduates and we sell, I figure since I've consistently earned between a quarter and a third, I should get about a quarter of the proceeds, but I'm in no position to make demands because I voluntarily combined our finances. We spent all my retirement on the down payment for the first house we bought together (my idea, I figured I'd put it back but we ended up combining it so he could invest it, it's HUGE now so he's set for retirement) so I'm going to be working pretty much forever. These are mistakes I made that I will have to (literally) pay for, but I made those poor choices with my eyes open, knowing the risk. It's a mess and needlessly complicated because I was stupid.

My advice is to draw those lines clearly now, preferably in writing. You're doing the right thing by being frank with her about the nature of your relationship with her. A lot of women don't educate themselves and learn about money. The kind thing to do for her is to prepare her properly for the future. If you explain and she doesn't listen, then that is on her, but you will have done the right thing.
 

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You share a child which changes this dynamic a bit. If you expect her to be a SAHM for any period that means you pay all the bills. She cares for the kid & cleans the house. If you want cash, somebody else gets paid to do childcare & housework.

Ask what she thinks is fair about her contribution to the bills when she goes back to work. You will get all the equity in the house so you cannot expect contributions for the mortgage. Anything she gives you is gravy so pick your battles.
 

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We, married, are "one pot" people. It's not my money or her money, it's ours. (We do have separate bank and credit card accounts, but it's still ours collectively.)
My husband and I are also ‘one pot’ people. It’s all just ours. We don’t have separate accounts.

Back in the day, I agreed to combine our finances and just start the ‘one pot’ life (living together, not married then) after he demonstrated to me that he could stick to a budget with me (as that wasn’t his strong point back then). Anyway, I’m more risk averse and that’s not necessarily ‘right’ either… but long story short, see above, we’re one pot.
 

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In this day and age, I don’t think most men should cohabitate or marry or knock up anyone at all.

Your first two mistakes were planting babies in her and then living with her.

The courts won’t care if your married or not and will stick you with child support and possibly spousal support anyway.
 

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Even if I do marry again, I would not do that initially, not until I can fully trust that I see how she behaves through thick and thin, and trust that she has our mutual interest in mind when she decides how to manage money.
So you're living with a woman and making babies with her but you don't trust her enough to marry her. I think finances at the least of your problems dude.
 

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not knowing tax laws in the USA do you get tax deduction for her when she is stay at home , the fact she is a stay at home has a big impact , if you both put the child before her work then you need to add in the cost same as if you had to pay child care if she went to work
 

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Being that you live together and even have a child together and are even engaged (although if you have no plans to marry I have no idea why). everything should be joint, joint account, all bills paid out of that account and all pay paid in. You are living as if you are married but you want to treat finances as if you are single.
Is she ok with you having bought a house together but putting it only in your name.

I have to wonder how committed to her you are. You seem to want to keep all your money separate and not get married. You don't seem to care that she and the child would have no where to live if the relationship ended. I wouldn't put up with it but that's her decision.
 

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It sounds to me like you should have stayed completely single and stopped having children, but maybe that's just me.

One of my family members had this kind of relationship. He was so stingy with money, even when she was working, that she was like a child getting an allowance from him. You may be able to guess how it turned out....
 

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Copied my parents. My paycheck goes to my wife and is managed by her. I don’t know how much more than her I make, maybe 5x probably more.

When we first started living together she moved into my apartment and had her money and I paid for everything except sometimes she’d buy meals out.

We have only argued about money once where my wife wanted to give her family a bunch. The solution to that was I asked her to never tell me and instead just do it. Since I never look at the bank balance I wouldn’t even know.

Note that in order to pull this off when you’re not making a lot of income you can’t be living right on the edge of disaster. You need to dial it way back from that.
 
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