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Married/Cohabitating couples: How do you split rent?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Our rent is pretty steep (but good for the neighborhood!) SO's income is three times as much as mine. We were splitting the rent something like 60/40, but that wasn't really working out for me and it meant he had to pay for EVERYTHING else because I was so short on money. Now he's paying all of it, with the agreement that we split everything else (like going out, bills, whatnot). Before you answer, consider that even after he pays all of the rent, he is still left with more money for the month than me.

I don't necessarily feel so comfortable with this, because I feel kind of like a freeloader, but before I was giving him 3/4ths of my income towards rent, and I didn't like that very much either.

We talked about it, and he is the one who suggested the current arrangement and then insisted after I said that wasn't really what I meant. I was trying only to point out that I was left unable to afford things like my asthma medicine, which meant he had to pay for them (and he did, uncomplainingly).

I'm trying to view the situation as my money is our money, his money is our money, and so long as everything gets paid for it doesn't really matter.

How do you guys split rent/mortgage? Do you just throw all the money together and spend from there, or throw some of your money together and keep separate some of it?

To preanswer some questions: Yes, we plan on being together for life and are looking at marriage sometime in the next few years, and we are both pretty equally responsible with money so nobody needs to 'babysit' the other. The only other bill we share is electric, and the heat is gas, so I will be paying the electric bill (about 30/mo).

I have no problem paying what is fair, and neither does he, but I want to do this the right way. Before now, I had more money and I was happy to pay more, but I don't want him to start being resentful (and I don't think HE will, but I think I might if the shoes were switched, but then he's a better person than me)
post #2 of 36
My Husband as always payed the Rent.
He pays the house Paymeny n because we will be short.ow.
I pay the property taxes and will pay the bills once i find a job.
When I had a job I paid the bills and the truck payment.
The truck is paid off now.
We will be cutting bills soon if I do not find a job
post #3 of 36
We have a joint bank account. All of our money goes into it. He makes a few hundred more than me per month but we don't even really notice because its the same bank account.

When we pay the rent, we just take the money right out of the account so we don't know exactly who is paying for what.
post #4 of 36
We split everything in half, even though I make more than him. I write the rent check every month, and we keep a tally on the dry erase board on how much he owes me. Now if he pays the cell phones, TV and internet, and other things, we take the half that I would've paid for those things, and deduct it off the rent or whatever else. And if I were to pay those things, I would add it on to what he owes me. I hope I explained it correctly. It makes it easier because he's not writing me a check. Before, when he wasn't making a lot of money, the amount he owed me kept increasing because he couldn't afford to pay me the rent every month. Thankfully I can afford to pay for all of it. Now that he has a better position in the company and he got a pay raise, he's paying money every paycheck and what he owes me is definitely decreasing.

I guess it's just finding a way that works for you. My way won't work for someone else, but it's definitely working for us.
post #5 of 36
Even though DH made more than me, he had more bills. I figured out our personal bills and went from there. For awhile I was paying more in rent and electricity but he drove and I didn't. I think it just depends on your situation and relationship.
post #6 of 36
We split the rent 50/50 and always have. We make close to the same amount of money, so that's what's fair. When I was making more money, we still split the rent in half, but I was responsible for most of the other bills. Now that we're on pretty even ground, we split everything in half. Everything is in my name (except her Best Buy card and car insurance), and she pays me in cash and I write the check.
post #7 of 36
We started pooling our money before we were married, i.e., cohabitating, and have maintained joint accounts for the past thirty years, no matter who was earning more when. We're Baby Boomers, though, and viewing both incomes as "our money" might be more a generational thing.
post #8 of 36
My suggestion would be:


Pay the rent
Pay 70% of the groceries as guys tend to eat more
His long distance calls


Pay the utilities including phone and your long distance
Pay 30% of the groceries

You're working. So it's important that you be able to put money into savings for a rainy day in case you lose your job or things don't work out between you and you need to leave and start over. Plus you need to start putting money into retirement plans. Things you can't do if all of your money is being eaten up by expenses.

If he isn't ok with the above, then you seriously need to consider either the two of you moving to a cheaper apartment so that you aren't spending so much of your income on living expenses, or if he's not agreeable to that, then you move out on your own to a cheaper apartment and pay your own way.

You both are cohabiting together so it's like you are living as a married couple, not room mates. So if he's making more money than you, it's only fair that he pay more of the living expenses than you do because he's better able to afford it and still be able to put money into savings etc.

So far as entertainment goes....why can't he pay for it? If you weren't living together and he was asking you out on dates he would be paying for the movies, dinners etc. Why should that be any different now?

Whether you are married or living together, it's important to each have your own savings account! You can have a joint account where you put the household expense money, but you each should have your own bank accounts too. If you pool all of your money into one, it is a melting pot. If things go bad, it's too easy to drain the account and leave the other without anything. With a joint account, you should be discussing the expenses that are being paid from it. With your own separate accounts you don't need to pass your purchases by the other person.
post #9 of 36
My husband and I have joint accounts and pay for everything out of that. At one time, he was making about 3 times what I made, now he's out of work and I'm the only one working. The money is still in a joint account where all the bills get paid from. I just can't see worrying about who pays for what since we're in this together.
post #10 of 36
What we have done for the last two years is we only keep the money in our seprate checking accounts that we need to get us through each paycheck (ie: gas money/food) everything else goes into a joint checking that we pay bills out of. This way we each have te money we need to get through the two weeks between paychecks and there is always money to pay the bills. It works for us
post #11 of 36
Originally Posted by jcat View Post
We're Baby Boomers, though, and viewing both incomes as "our money" might be more a generational thing.
I'm not so sure about that. DH and I are in our twenties and that's how we do it, too.
It's a lot easier to keep track of, and pay larger bills, out of one account that has a couple thousand in it then trying to juggle between accounts - or at least it is for us.

Just make sure if you keep a "tally" that it doesn't become a source of blame or resentment as each of you keep a more detailed track of who's money is going where. This would be my only worry with that set up.
post #12 of 36
DH is disabled so I am the only one working. When his disability is approved, we will be better off.
post #13 of 36
I honestly don't remember. I think that DH has always paid the rent. Other than my last two years in undergrad, I never paid rent other than for dorm rooms. I mean never. My first job after grad school paid for my rent for six months.

DH and I moved in "officially" after I graduated grad school. When we got married after my first job assignment (with the free rent) we had separate checking accounts and I kept my maiden name.

We moved from Boston to the Bay Area about a year and a half after we got married.. With that move, I changed my name to his and we opened a joint account, but I also had one to pay off my grad school loan. When I refinanced that loan with sallie mae, I closed my account and we paid for it.

There were times that I made more than him, times he was unemployed and I wasn't and now I stay home because of our son. So, I guess we stopped thinking about who paid what bill.
post #14 of 36
We chose a place to live where both of us could afford equal portions of the rent. He makes ~3x more than I do, but we split our necessary expenses pretty much in half- rent, bills, groceries. He pays for most of our meals and refreshments when we go out to eat which is about 3+times/week lately. When we first moved in together, he had debt (from college) and I had savings so that's why everything was split pretty evenly and our moneys kept separate.

I think, as long as you both feel comfortable with how expenses are divided and everything that needs to be paid is paid, then that's all that matters.
post #15 of 36
see with us blaine pays all the bills and i pay for the food, petrol/diesel any presents we need for the month and the kitties , ive never had to pay rent, he would not let me
post #16 of 36
Whew I tried it both ways but it really depends on how good you are with money, and how good your SO is.

I tried it with a wife that spent money just because she had it. tried a joint account, but it always ended with me being broke. I made 4 times more than her too.

So it caused a TON of fights. We split the bills to come out fair, actually i pretty much paid everything because I made so much more, but it worked VERY well splitting it because her money was hers and mine was mine, i can't get mad at her if I spent my own money, and vice versa. Big things we could put money together, etc.

Again it really depends on the people and if one, either one, is bad with money pooling the money is going to create a lot of issues.
post #17 of 36
My SO and I live together. He makes about double what I make. But we split all the shared bills (Rent, TV, internet, hydro) down the middle and we each have our own phone bills. We generally split it when we go out for dinner etc. however he does take me out sometimes and foor the bill. We take turn paying for groceries. I take responsibity for MOST of the cat stuff, however if he is out and the cats need food he'll pay for it, or if I'm really short on money he will pay.

He has a car and I don't. He does drive me a lot of places, or drive to the grocery store going out etc. So I guess that's my perk, I don't give him any money for the car or the gas/insurance, which I must say I really appreciate
post #18 of 36
Thread Starter 
Wow that's quite the variation

We can't really move somewhere cheaper-- university housing situation. Everywhere requires a 12-month lease, and besides I've looked and there isn't anything cheaper anywhere near here. Studios are only a couple hundred dollars less, and about 1/3 the size. We were lucky to find this place, and we both love it. Even if we didn't, we're here to stay until at least Sept.

Going halvsies isn't really an option-- I would end up with about 5$ to last two weeks between paychecks after my other bills. Before I didn't have much more than that, which is the justification for the switch. I couldn't afford anything I needed, which meant he was paying for everything, which meant that between me giving him a bunch of money and then him paying for everything, and me keeping my money and paying for a lot of the rest, it ended up about even. The pretense of kind of splitting it was basically unfair to both of us.

I don't expect him to pay for more because he's the man. It was never like that expect maybe our first two or three dates. In about a year and a half (if things go as planned) I'll have my masters' and will be getting about twice what he does now. Then I'll be more than happy to pay for more than he does. A few years after that if things go as planned for him, he'll be making about the same as me and eventually a lot more, but by then we won't be living paycheck to paycheck anymore and I imagine will be married and have a joint account and this won't really be a question. The situation now is that he gets a pretty sizable stipend from school, and I have a crappy part time job (32 hours/wk) that pays diddly.

We don't fight about anything very often, I don't want to start.

You guys have all given me some great opinions.

I'm thinking that maybe I could figure something out (once I get my tuition paid for after the next paycheck) where we're both putting in equal proportions? Like 35% of each of our incomes or something (that would be somewhat close to the rent, put together). My dollar amount would be much lower, but we'd be paying the same proportion.

To the people who are splitting things in exactly half-- would you think something like that is fair? That's what I was going for when I brought it up with him Just hadn't actually done the math.
post #19 of 36
Hubby and I have one checking account. All of our paychecks auto deposit there. All bills are paid out of that account. We discuss all purchases over 100 dollars before they are made. We consider it all OUR money- even though I do make more than he does.

I am far more organized than he is, so I pay all bills and show him what I do on a regular basis. (my dad was an accountant and some of that stuff rubbed off on me) I pull our credit reports once a year to check for things like identity theft. Neither one of us can hide secret accounts because the other partner would see them on the credit report before too long. (hasn't been an issue- so surprises so far)

We put our savings into an online savings account that pays high interest. We also participate in the 403b plans (like 401K, but for non profits) our jobs provide so we can get the matching money.

So far this has worked well. We agreed this is the way we wanted it before we were married.
post #20 of 36
Rob and I have had combined finances since 2005, so all of our money is pooled into 1 checking account. We both make the same amount of money each month, unless he does side jobs, in which he gets extra, or if I work over time at work. Just about all of that extra money goes into our money market, an account for our home furnishings. We don't split anything, because, well, it's already all together!
post #21 of 36
We contribute equally to a household joint account, from which our rent, utilities, most incidental household expenses and the majority of our food are paid. We each spend out of our own pockets on household stuff from time to time, when it's not worth writing a cheque or using a debit card. That pretty much comes out in the wash, I think. Vehicle expenses come out of our own pockets, i.e. I buy most of the gas, the oil changes, the ongoing stuff, since I do most of the driving; he takes care of the insurance and either covers or contributes to any major repairs.

Other than that, what we earn is our own.

It works for us.
post #22 of 36
Our deal is:

DH pays $1200 out of the montly mortgage payment; I pay the rest (about $400-500 [it changes periodically, as they charge more each month for escrow, about $30; changes usually each year]). He makes about $30,000more a year than I do. I cover the rest of the montlhy bills, except for cable/Internet. I also do most of the savings for our retirement. He pays for most of the food; we split things like vet bills. We split our tax return refund, except for the small State refund; I keep that (I call it my "H& R Blockhead fee, as I do our taxes). However, when our mortgage company recently refunded us for overcharging for escrow (I danged near fainted when I got THAT letter; I was expecting the annual increase for escrow!), I kept the check and the extra $100 per month for 2009, since I always paid the excess escrow charges per month when they went up. (I, of course, being me, put it into my emergency savings!).

DH has to take me out to dinner every Saturday night, as a thank-you for doing all of the housework annd laundry during the week. Seriously. (It's our "date" time together--we seldom can eat together during the week.) Of course, if he's short on money, etc., I tell him not to. Even I'm not THAT selfish!

When we were living in an apartment (still single most of that 12 month period), we split the rent 50/50. Then again, it was only $768!).

We have separate checking accounts and finances. He tends to bounce checks, and I didn't want the headaches associated with this. Also, this way, we don't have to beg each other when we want to buy something for ourselves. I like being independent with money. If it's a joint purchase, such as home improvements or vet bills, we split it 50/50; but we don't have a general household fund set up (I do always keep a small slush fund for myself for emergencies; he may borrow from that, and pay me back if needed, though he rarely does.)
post #23 of 36
I can't believe no one follows Suzie Orman's great advice. When BF/GF make anything but the exact same amount the bills should be proportioned out according to income.

IE: You make $1000 he makes $3000. Your rent is $1000/month. You pay 25% OR $250; he pays 75% or $750. All your other joint bills-water/utility etc should be paid using the same proportion.

You will be paying your fair share determined by your individual incomes.

Go to a bookstore and take a peek at one of her many books and she will have this written in one (or more) of them.
post #24 of 36
We both pay the bills, split 50/50. He does make more money, but it's cheaper than living on my own! We have separate accounts, and he only has a savings account. He gives me his half in cash, I deposit it and write out and send the bills.
post #25 of 36
Originally Posted by GailC View Post
I can't believe no one follows Suzie Orman's great advice. When BF/GF make anything but the exact same amount the bills should be proportioned out according to income.
Actually this is what we do seeing as who makes more has changed so many times since we've been together. I organize everything, though. DH is horrible at remembering bills and admits it, so I sit down once a month and hand him his portion of the bills, which he pays then and there.

Right now I'm paying the utilities and 2/3 of the mortgage, but that's because up until the beginning on November, I made about 4 times what he did. We'll have to look at it again once his pay is settled in the new job.

Honestly, costs as per income has always worked really well for us.
post #26 of 36
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by GailC View Post
IE: You make $1000 he makes $3000. Your rent is $1000/month. You pay 25% OR $250; he pays 75% or $750. All your other joint bills-water/utility etc should be paid using the same proportion.
I'm really bad at math, but is that right? Should it be 1/3 and 2/3?

I was trying to figure out a proportion of our incomes that when added together would about equal the cost of rent, and came up with ~35%. 1/3 of the rent is 50$ more than 35% of my income. Oh gosh I believe I've scrambled my brain. I guess it's pishposh.

I was also thinking that if this works (me not paying the rent at all) I will save up so I can pay all of it this summer, when he isn't getting his stipend. That might be better, and would end up being somewhat equivalent to paying some income-dependent proportion.
post #27 of 36
It is our money, regardless of who makes what. We share everything. This works for us, we don't have to worry about each other not being fair with spending money, we have a lot of trust and are very much together on any big financial decisions.
post #28 of 36
Its not his/her money - its our money. We have a budget plan. Savings and church are taken off the top, then we pay bills, last is left over for miscellaneous. But we have a budget paper that we can list what money is spent.

It doesn't matter to us who pays for what as long as everything gets paid. We are married. Those living together may not view it the same way.
post #29 of 36
Originally Posted by Zissou'sMom View Post
I have no problem paying what is fair, and neither does he, but I want to do this the right way. Before now, I had more money and I was happy to pay more, but I don't want him to start being resentful (and I don't think HE will, but I think I might if the shoes were switched, but then he's a better person than me)
I think what you're doing is fair. When DH and I were dating, we moved cities and he wanted a fancy apartment that I couldn't afford. I was trying t pay half, but like you it meant I was constantly broke and couldn't afford what I needed.

We ended up changing how it was proportioned which made it better. If we wanted to live at my income level then we wouldn't have lived where and how he wanted. I think you need to need to pay bills by how much you make, otherwise the one making less money will never get a chance to get ahead.

Once we got married we got joint accounts, there was no more yours and mine. We have a savings account that DHs pay goes into, we pay a certain amount into a checking amount for day to day expenses, and all bills go onto the credit card which we pay each month. It works for us. I'm not working, so DH supports me, which I'm still not totally comfortable with, but I'm getting an education with the plan for me to be the breadwinner down the track, and he be a stay at home dad.
post #30 of 36
I think it should be proportionate to the incomes. For instance, I am working full time, but Josh is a student and works part time. So, I will contribute 70% of the expenses, and he will contribute 30%. (Or whatever percentages work for you). It can't be split evenly if the incomes are different.
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