Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Let’s Talk Money and Relationships

Love or moneyThere’s an interesting discussion in the forums about money and relationships. Specifically, it’s about how to split expenses β€” especially expenses that arise from things like weddings β€” in a committed, live-in relationship. The LW writes:

My boyfriend and I have lived together for a little less than two years. He’s (a mature) 25 and I’m 27. From the beginning, we have always split bills 50-50. At first, we were generally making the same amount of money, but since then, my boyfriend landed his dream job as a cocktail bartender and works 60 hours a week, making twice what I do now (I work a traditional 40-hour-a-week schedule). Because he works more outside the home and therefore earns more money, I do 100% of the chores around the house (including, but not limited to: all laundry, cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming daily, washing dishes, organizing, ironing, etc.), plus 90% of things related to our dog (walking her 3x per day, grooming her daily, vigorously exercising her daily, making vet appointments, etc.). I am glad to do all these things for us because I feel that we’re a team and we’re both working toward the common goal (marriage), but I’m beginning to wonder whether we should revisit the way that we divide the rent and bills.

Our financial situations are so different now that there is a huge disparity in our spending habits. For instance, I always buy groceries so that I never need to eat out. My boyfriend thinks nothing of exclusively eating out and taking us out for $200 to $300 dinners (he considers eating out at good restaurants training/networking for him), even though I insist that I would rather just make dinner at home and snuggle on the couch. And since my boyfriend takes us out for expensive dinners β€” dinners that I would rather skip β€” he thinks splitting our household expenses 50-50 is fair.

Additionally, I’ll be a bridesmaid in three weddings in the next year and have a lot of related expenses that will put a financial strain on me. Yesterday, I mentioned my financial concerns to my boyfriend and he said he could β€œlend me money interest-free.” I have to admit, I was sort of taken aback by his wording (and won’t be taking him up on the offer since I’m not in that dire straits). Regardless, I thanked him and asked whether he thought we should both contribute to wedding gifts or if he thought the gift should be handled by the person closest to the one getting married. He said it should be handled entirely by the one closest to the people getting married, which makes sense, but now I am wondering if he expects that I will also pay for his travel expenses? We got rid of our cars when we moved to the city, and to rent a car or take a train/get a hotel is going to be expensive. We will need to travel to the suburbs for all the weddings I am in. I know I need to communicate this with him, but I am curious what other couples do.

My questions are: In your relationship, who pays for what when you are attending or in a wedding? Does your SO contribute? And, if you have a big paycheck discrepancy with your SO, how do you handle rent/bills/entertainment? β€” Money Matter in Love

First of all, while it’s interesting to hear how other people handle finances in their relationships and their stories can give you ideas and inspiration, in the end it doesn’t really matter what other people do. What matters is your and your partner’s needs and desires, and what makes the most sense for you and your level of commitment. Obviously, to figure out what matters to your both and what makes the most sense to you, you have to communicate β€” a lot. And compromise.

For you specifically and for people in general, the best way to approach discussions about finances in relationships is to first think carefully about what YOU want. Based on your combined income and the amount of time you both spend at work, how would you cover your expenses and your household chores if you could wave a magic wand? Would it be a 50-50 financial split and a 50-50 split of chores? Would you contribute more toward finances and expect your partner to contribute more toward chores or vice versa?

Once you figure out what your desire is, figure out what your needs are. In an ideal situation, you might like your partner to do more chores, but in reality, you have more time and/or less money than your partner. If your NEED is for more financial help from your partner, figure out what you are able to offer in exchange. If what you can offer meets a need your partner has, then you’re in a better place to find a compromise. Certainly, if you ALREADY do more in terms of household chores, it would seem fair that your partner contributes more financially, but it’s your job to prove to your partner that you are, in fact, meeting a need he has (for a clean house, clean dishes, a walked dog, etc.).

If he doesn’t think you’re meeting his needs, you either have to convince him that, yes, you ARE β€” which may mean explicitly listing all the things that you do that he may not realize you do because chores tend to be invisible once they’re done. If he still doesn’t get it, you may have to NOT do the chores for a period of time so he can see that, oh yeah, those things are kind of important and do need to be done and he doesn’t have time or energy to do them β€” OR you have to ask him what other needs he might have that you can meet. I would not use sex as a negotiating tactic or you risk commodifying intimacy in your relationship which is weird at best and unhealthy, degrading, and disastrous at worst.

On the flip side, when you sit down to communicate your needs with your partner and negotiate the split of expenses and chores, he has to express HIS needs and try to convince you how the things he’s already doing β€” or things he’s willing to do β€” meets yours. In your specific case, it would be your boyfriend’s job to convince you that those $200-$300 dinners meet your needs, and you have to be prepared to let him know that they don’t (and that maybe that money would be better spent on a cleaning lady!). And then you have to let him know what would be, in your mind, a more fair exchange of what you do and what you want/need in return.

When a couple lives together and plans to get married, these conversations also need to include talks about future goals. What kind of wedding do you want? Where do you want to settle down? Do you want to buy a place? Do you want to have kids? What’s your desires timeframe for these things? What are you doing NOW to meet these goals in the timeframe you have in mind? Once you start talking in terms of goals you have 5-10 years from now, those $200-$300 dinners may not seem to your boyfriend like the best investment of his money. Even if he’s not willing to contribute more to your current household expenses, he may be willing to put that money in an account that you may BOTH use, say, to buy your first home or pay for your wedding or go on honeymoon or send your kid(s) to college one day.

Obviously, these can be tough conversations. They can break up a relationship. Money often does. But if you want to spend your life with someone, these are conversations that HAVE to be had, and these are compromises that not only have to be made NOW, they have to be re-visited and often re-negotiated over and over. Luckily, as commitment between two people grows, and goals start to align, these conversations can get much easier. But if your goals DON’T start to align, you may decide that the relationship doesn’t have a future. Because what’t the point in staying with someone if you don’t share the same vision of a desired future? And what’s the point in staying with someone who can’t or won’t or doesn’t have any interest in meeting your needs?

Living together is a wonderful opportunity to test the waters of a life-long commitment. Being spouses or “life partners” or whatever you want to call it means being teammates. You work together to not only make each other’s life a little easier, you work together to reach your longterm goals. Now is your chance to see how well you’re doing that. Does your partner make your life easier? Is he doing anything to help you reach longterm goals? And what are YOU doing to make his life easier? What are YOU doing to help him reach longterm goals. If the answer to any of these questions is “nothing,” then it’s time to re-evaluate this relationship and either break up or figure out how to make some changes.

Finally, when it comes to the wedding expenses, if you can’t afford to be a bridesmaid in three upcoming weddings, you either need to back out or figure out how you can earn more money. If you CAN afford it β€” even if it means scaling back on other expenses β€” that’s the choice you’ve made. Your boyfriend didn’t have the option of you being a bridesmaid in these weddings and it’s not fair to expect him to help you out. Now, he DOES have an option about whether to go to the weddings, do if you can’t afford to pay his travel expenses, let him decide whether he wants to pay for himself or not. You may not like his answer and it may affect your overall picture of your relationship and your future together, but it’s better to learn that now that another year or two down the road. As for weddings gifts: your friends or family, your expense. And that goes until you merge finances and/or mutually decide otherwise.

Readers, in interest of discussion, let’s go back to the LW’s questions to all of you: “In your relationship, who pays for what when you are attending or in a wedding? Does your SO contribute? And, if you have a big paycheck discrepancy with your SO, how do you handle rent/bills/entertainment?”

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

283 comments… add one
  • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 1:07 pm

    I’m so glad Wendy answered this! It’s so true that getting other people’s situations is nice, but in the end it only matters what the two people are comfortable with.

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    • eelavocado July 1, 2013, 2:04 pm

      I’m glad Wendy answered this, too. Thanks, Wendy! (PS–You did a much better job at paring down the information than I did. ;))

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  • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 1:14 pm

    If he doesn’t think you’re meeting his needs, you either have to convince him that, yes, you ARE β€” which may mean NOT doing the chores for a period of time so he can see that, oh yeah, those things do need to be done and he doesn’t have time or energy to do them

    I honestly believe that if it wasn’t important for ME to have a clean home, my partner would be perfectly happy sitting in filth. This reminds me of something katie said once about people thinking what they do for others is what others want done (related to gifts maybe?). Anyway, if your guy is like mine, it may not matter to him that you clean, because YOU want the place clean, and he could care less.

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    • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 1:18 pm

      Already said on the forum, but…

      We do 50/50 on shared bills, he makes significantly more than me, and I am perfectly happy with that arrangement. His friend’s wedding, he pays. My friend’s wedding, I pay.

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    • GatorGirl July 1, 2013, 1:21 pm

      Your last paragraph is spot on. I’m a clean freak, husband is not. He doesn’t see the value/importance in some of the crazier cleaning things I do. Scrubbing the bathroom walls- anyone else do that? But he will help if I ask.

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    • landygirl July 1, 2013, 1:31 pm

      My experience with not cleaning up after my mate is that the house just gets dirtier and dirtier because the men I’ve lived with don’t care about cleanliness the way that I do. No amount of talking has ever changed anything. It’s annoying.

      I’ve started using a house cleaning service but it still irks me that my husband is incapable of throwing out stuff or closing cabinet doors. I’m no Felix Unger but I like a tidy house.

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      • pamplemousse July 1, 2013, 3:57 pm

        I’d rather be alone for the rest of my life than spend any amount of time with a partner who is fine with living in filth.

      • landygirl July 1, 2013, 5:44 pm

        Sadly, I think a lot of men are slobs. Sometimes you have to pick your battles which I why I got a cleaning service.

    • katie July 1, 2013, 1:32 pm

      yea, its about you seeing value in doing something for someone else, but the someone else not seeing the value in it. so if someone goes out of their way to gift flowers and thinks that is the greatest thing ever, but the recipient doesnt even like flowers, so they wont see any value in it.

      while i would hope no one would do that in relation to housework, i could see how he wouldnt be putting two and two together that she is doing this, therefore she is contributing in x, y, z way.

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      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 1:47 pm

        You have no idea how happy I was when new boy and I figured out that we have the same love language. It was like finally! Someone will do shit for me and I will do shit for them and we will BOTH appreciate it. I felt like running through the mountains and singing “the hills are alive…. with the sound of musssssssic… la la la la”

      • landygirl July 1, 2013, 2:10 pm

        New boy?

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 2:35 pm

        I accidentally got a new boyfriend.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 2:59 pm

        I slipped and fell on this guy. So cute Iwanna.

      • findingtheearth July 1, 2013, 3:18 pm

        haha! I love “accidents” such as this.

      • landygirl July 1, 2013, 3:17 pm

        This scares me. No offense.

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:19 pm

        Ha it’s fine, it scares me too.

    • SasLinna July 1, 2013, 1:46 pm

      I’ve been the person who cleaned the most in just about every living arrangement I’ve had in my life (except when I was child obviously). Whether they were roommates or partners, they always wanted things less clean and tidy than I did. As a result, I’m kind of expecting to find myself in the same situation in the future, too, and I’m not bothered by it. BUT I expect to share the basic chores like cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry, buying groceries equally, and I think there’s a basic cleaning standard that I can always expect from a roommate or live-in partner (less clean than my own standard though), I don’t have to accept living in filth IMO.

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  • TECH July 1, 2013, 1:16 pm

    I think Wendy made a really fabulous suggestion here: “Even if he’s not willing to contribute more to your current household expenses, he may be willing to put that money in an account that you may BOTH use, say, to buy your first home or pay for your wedding or go on honeymoon or send your kid(s) to college one day.”

    So many people live with their boyfriends and say they’re “talking” about marriage. Talking about it and actually doing it are such radically different things. Her suggestion would put that thought into action.

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    • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 1:21 pm

      I guess I don’t really understand why he should have to put his money anywhere other than his pocket. I mean, this is the agreed to situation. All for having talks and changing things as relationships progress, but I guess I just find it not cool to want to cut her bill contribution in the same month that he started making more. I think it should be up to him to offer that, not up to her to ask for him to pay for more.
      I think your last part says it all. You can talk about that all day long, but clearly they are not married and at that level of financial commitment yet for a reason.

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      • A La Mode July 1, 2013, 1:49 pm

        I’d just like to play Devil’s Advocate and say that LW’s boyfriend is doing the economy a world of good by going out and dropping that cash…

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 2:41 pm

        I agree. And as I said in the thread… Such behavior would give me pause. Honestly? I don’t see how that can NOT make the LW look, well… Very greedy.

      • Addie Pray July 1, 2013, 2:53 pm

        I agree. And I’d like to point out that lets_be_honest and bittergaymark and I all agree! I can’t think of the last time that happened.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:00 pm

        Wow, I think that’s a first for sure.
        I’m surprised you agree.

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:01 pm

        Never. That was the last time that happened. I guess I’m just wondering how I’ve always gotten myself into such unequal situations and never thought twice about it. Is it because my Dad has always paid for everything? My brother now pays 100% of the time when he goes on dates. Have I just always date people that were more financially well off than me? It would seriously never even occur to me to split things 50/50 when one partner (which always happens to not be me) makes significantly more than the other.

      • Addie Pray July 1, 2013, 3:07 pm

        I dunno. Honestly, I can’t believe you would charge stuff to a boyfriend’s credit card or feel ok letting men pay for everything. I would feel really uneasy about that. I’m not saying I’m right, I’m just saying I would, and I just, I just, well it just surprises me how you do it. It’s like you’re an old soul – from the 1950s, ha.

        I also want to know where you find these men. And maybe send one my way. I kind of secretly would like to know what it feels like to be treated like that. But I think it would throw me off.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:09 pm

        What blows me away about it is how easily independent she can be. Like, while she has that old soul 1950s vibe when it comes to $, she also went to law school and could completely depend on herself if she so wished.

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:10 pm

        I’m kind of weirded out by it now too. But mostly I’m just weirded out by the fact that I thought zero things about the situation before DW. I seriously thought that was just how everyone was rolling. It’s kind of like when I moved to Denver and realized that Democrats existed. I thought they were mythical creatures. And sure as shit the state is blue. It’s bizarre. So I kind of just assume that all guys are paying for their girlfriends shit all the time, and I also assume everyone I meet is a republican.

        And now I’ve decided I’m a sheltered asshole. Which makes for a weird Monday.

      • Addie Pray July 1, 2013, 3:17 pm

        there are a lot of women like that so don’t feel bad, and for each woman like that there’s a guy like that, so don’t fret. I assume if the guy minded he’d let you know. I’m sure he not only doesn’t mind but he wants to pay for you. So it’s a win-win for you both. … I just, I don’t know, it’s so foreign to me.

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:21 pm

        I mean Colin is from Ohio (shout out to Anna!) so I guess he was probably raised similarly to how I was. Also on Friday we discussed politics (another sexy topic) and I discovered that he is a socially liberal republican! Twins! His brother is gay so he has to be socially liberal, but I’d like to think he would be anyway.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:24 pm

        Wow, uncommon. Totally twinsies.

      • GatorGirl July 1, 2013, 3:38 pm

        I know a lot of socially liberal republicans. Like most of GatorGuys family. It’s weird.

      • kerrycontrary July 1, 2013, 3:42 pm

        I’m a socially liberal republican! I don’t think we’re a rare purple unicorn actually.

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:47 pm

        I guess I’ve just always lived in pretty polar areas? I mean Nebraska is all red. And Denver is pretty much all blue. The only reason that Colorado is a swing state is that pretty much all areas outside of the Denver metro are Red. I wish there were more of us. That way we could maybe influence our party to be socially liberal and we could dominate for all eternity.

      • Addie Pray July 1, 2013, 5:56 pm

        social liberally republicans seem everywhere! is that really uncommon where you live? everyone in law school seemed to fall in that camp. i guess everyone i know is socially liberal (pro gay rights, pro choice, etc.) but many – nay, a TON – are really fiscally conservative. hency, socially liberal republicans.

        i was just thinking the other day how refreshing it is to NOT have anyone close to me or around me with those crazy conservative right wing / socially conservative views…. It makes life so much more full of love.

      • findingtheearth July 1, 2013, 3:22 pm

        I have a really good friend who has always had boyfriends who pay for EVERYTHING. Her current one called her one day to tell her to take a week off from work, because they were going to Alaska. She did.

        She has never had to work a 8-5 because she has always had someone to pay the rent and other bills for her. She works part time, at best.

      • Addie Pray July 1, 2013, 3:29 pm

        those women must seek out those men. they must, what are they odds they just continuously find themselves attached to them?

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:33 pm

        But how can you seek them out if you meet them drunk at the pool? I mean it’s not like I was on some website called, “get guys to pay for your shit.com”. And Ethan certainly isn’t in an industry that you would think would make a lot of money. I don’t know how it happens. I bet it would happen for you if you let it. Like do you demand to pay for date 2? Maybe that’s where things get out of control for me. I let them pay (after offering) for date 1, and then from there on out they just automatically grabbed the check and there was no longer any discussions about it.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:08 pm

        I think its just that it never bothered you, and never bothered the guys you were with. And that’s totally fine, I mean, hey, even better for you, right?

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:15 pm

        Okay but lets talk about this too. I feel like if I ever get into a serious relationship again, and we start splitting bills 50/50, that will ruin the excitement I feel when I do really random fun things like buy plane tickets to Portland for him to visit his brother. How is that fun at all when you’re busy ruining the sexiness of life by calculating mortgage payments. I guess maybe it would make more of a difference if both people were really struggling, then I could see splitting things up exactly. But when both people are doing okay-ish (not that I would ever have that conversation to know) why can’t you find more fun and creative ways for neither to feel like they’re getting taken advantage of?

        Because if so I would like to be the partner/spouse that gets to plan and pay for all the fun vacations, and they can pay for all meals out, and then I don’t know – I can pay for other stuff too.

        In summary: money is boring and kills my lady boner.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:23 pm

        I hear ya, and agree about how much it sucks to talk money. But we split 50/50, and it took about 3 seconds to discuss it. Peter, cable bill is $200, give $100. Done. He gives me 1 check for his half of our monthly bills and then I pay them. Easy peasy.

        With all the other stuff (aside from set bills), we’ve gotten to the point where whoever whips the card out first, pays. We are both huge on giving gifts and things like that, so we still do get that “sexiness” haha. We both do okay, so its just not an issue luckily. We both also know that if one lost all their money, at this point we would totally pay for the broke one.

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:27 pm

        Yeah you’re right, I guess I’d still find cute ways to be random and spontaneous. I just really enjoy giving fun random gifts. I don’t want that taken from me. But I guess I don’t know why paying 50% of the bills would change that. I think I’m going to buy him a husker hat for his birthday (along with the trip to portland, haha) because how funny would it be to turn a buckeye into a husker? AMAZING.

      • BreezyAM July 1, 2013, 10:19 pm

        You would make my father so proud. πŸ˜€ I get my family new Husker gear every time I go home. They all know I’ll be coming home with new and funky shirts/hats/etc for all of them. MrAM has specifically requested one of those corn cob hats. I’ve tried telling him even I have never been drunk enough to wear one but he is unmoved.

        Oh and I forgot to add in the money thing… yeah okay we do that for budget but there’s also a lot of play in there. Like we went camping this weekend with his parents and when we needed to go buy fries and shit to eat with the ribs or some beer he’d just tell me to take out a $20 from his wallet or I’d toss one out, and there will be no sitting down and tallying up of what the what to make it all Even Stevens. We just can’t be bothered by that kind of nickel and diming. Also, ironically, now that we Officially Split Our Shit, he is *more* likely to shell out for dinner and treats etc.

      • BreezyAM July 1, 2013, 10:13 pm

        IWTTS that’s sort of how we do it… MrAM will always make more money than me unless I win the lottery or become a famous writer. We used to just have one big money pot but that turned into me having to justify every dime I spent, and him threatening to cut me off when I spent without a lengthy consultation including where and how this would fit in our budget. And I’m not talking Gucci purses here; I’m talking $2-300 at Home Depot to make furniture for the kids rooms. And he makes six figures! And yes half our net income goes to debt repayment but he was basically pissed 75% wasn’t. Even that I could have dealt with since honestly, he was being sensible! But see the thing was, there was no way I could put the smack down on HIM when he was spending like an idiot on Dumb Shit I found unnecessary.

        So after years of frustration, we settled into the percentage system (this was his idea, although I would have balked at 50/50. See 50/50 is only cool if you both agree to live to the lower earner’s level). We have a budget for stuff we have to pay (rent, utilities, groceries, etc) and I contribute 30% since I make 30% of what he makes. The rest we each spend as we wish, including on debt repayment. We both feel a lot better. He tends to basically put every last dime on debt repayment, whereas I’ll buy us the treats, but he no longer feels resentful of those treats because he feels like he still gets to spend his money as he wishes and sees his debt going down. And once our debt is done –about five years we plan– (oh and I do contribute to paying that down –just not as much as he does!) I am going to use my money to sock to our retirement home and vacations, and his will go to pay for our current life. It works better with our personalities too as I’m more the “finishing touches” kind of gal and he’s a “basics” sort of fella. It works for us. Finally. And believe me we spent toooooo long nearly destroying our relationship over it.

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 3:08 pm

        You guys have bad memories…

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:09 pm

        Give me one other time…

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:10 pm

        Not counting on us all agreeing CB2 is a great store, haha!

      • Addie Pray July 1, 2013, 3:14 pm

        there was that one time we all agreed that BGM was both bitter and gay, and probably named mark.

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 4:29 pm

        I’m blanking. But I recall it happening at least five of six times. Hey, nobody, not even LBH, can be wrong ALL the time… πŸ˜‰

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 4:33 pm


      • Addie Pray July 1, 2013, 4:43 pm

        good point, haha.

      • bagge72 July 1, 2013, 3:09 pm

        Yeah I think it is crazy too, I actually have a friend who works a part time job, and her husband pretty much pays all of the bills, and puts his check into a joint account for them, because he makes a good amount of money. Well she told my wife and I last time we were out that she takes her check and puts it all into an account with only her name on it, just in case they ever break up haha. They really do seem like they don’t like each other, they have been together since they were 13, have 2 kids together, and never hangout with each other. They never do couples things. I have known her since 1994, and they were dating then, and since then I have met him 3 times in my life, but my wife and I hangout with her a couple of times a year.

  • GatorGirl July 1, 2013, 1:18 pm

    β€œIn your relationship, who pays for what when you are attending or in a wedding? Does your SO contribute?” We split everything 50/50 with the exception of the bachelorette/bachelor party expenses and what each of us is wearing. All travel and gifts (engagement, shower, wedding) are split.

    “And, if you have a big paycheck discrepancy with your SO, how do you handle rent/bills/entertainment?” We make almost exactly the same amount so we split just about everything in half. We’ve discussed when the situation comes that one of us is making substantially more and have decided what seems to be the best plan is to do a ratio. So if I make 60% of the income, I pay 60% of the joint expenses. We also have agreed any debt brought in is our personal responsibility.

    We’re newly married, lived together for about 16 months before our wedding, and we made our financial plan BEFORE moving in together.

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    • GatorGirl July 1, 2013, 1:22 pm

      Also, if you can’t afford to be a bridesmaid turn it down. Declining politely is 110% acceptable.

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  • Cara July 1, 2013, 1:18 pm

    It is interesting to me that opinions are so divided on the methods of splitting rent and bills, but it really just proves that what works for one couple doesn’t necessarily work for everyone else. My situation is sort of complicated right now (living with boyfriend and other roommates), but when we live together in the future with just us two, I wouldn’t be opposed to splitting the rent and bills based on percentages of income. To me, that way also seems fair in the sense that each person is contributing the same percentage of their income, so that the person with the lower income isn’t left with significantly less money at the end of the month. But, plenty of people are saying in the forums that 50-50 is the only fair way, so to each their own. Right now, my boyfriend and I each pay our own share of rent and bills 50-50, since things are communal in the house with the other roommates. But, we share the cost of food and split it 70-30 because I do all the cooking, so I pay for a smaller proportion of the food. That works for us because it reflects the time I put into cooking — my bf would rather pay more for groceries and not have to cook 2-3 days per week.
    You just really need to establish guidelines and stick to them, with what works for you.

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    • BreezyAM July 1, 2013, 10:21 pm

      I think 50/50 is only fair if the higher earner is willing to live to the lower earner’s level.

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  • kerrycontrary July 1, 2013, 1:19 pm

    We don’t live together….but we usually split the hotel costs and then discuss what to give depending on the couple/how close we are/how much we had to travel. I guess we’ve been splitting up depending on who is closest getting married, but its $100 here and $100 there so it’s not too big of a deal for us? I think maybe the LW is stressing not just because of the weddings, but because splitting 50/50 is putting an overall strain on her finances. In general though he pays for entertainment, meals out (usually under $40-$50 bill), and trips. I buy ingredients when I cook for us. But he makes more money and doesn’t have loans and I do laundry/cooking/planning of our calendar and events. I don’t expect us to split 50/50 when we live together because we’ll be getting married and we have a “our money” approach.

    Reply Link
    • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 1:34 pm

      It seemed to me the 50/50 wasn’t a strain on her finances at all…until he started making more.

      Reply Link
      • kerrycontrary July 1, 2013, 1:41 pm

        Maybe its because when he started making more he started taking her out for these expensive dinners. So beyond the 50/50 household expenses, she cooks/cleans/takes care of dog whereas he takes her out to these dinners she doesn’t want to go to. And instead of dinners she wishes he would contribute more to household expenses. So…she has a problem with where he’s spending his spending money.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 2:03 pm

        Right, but its HIS spending money. If he chooses to blow it on X, that’s his choice. It shouldn’t be up to her what he spends his extra cash on. Just like she is choosing to spend her extra time (since she works less hours) on cleaning and taking care of the dog.

        How would you feel if she asked him to stop choosing to spend money on eating out, and instead spend it on her share of the bills…and his response was you should stop choosing to clean and care for the dog, and get a part time job to maintain her ability to pay her share of the bills?

        Regardless, she does not claim that she was or is truly struggling with paying 50% of the bills. She says she’s worried about paying for weddings she is in. It sounded like she was able to pay her 50% just fine, and now doesn’t want to because he’s working more and getting more money because of that.

      • kerrycontrary July 1, 2013, 2:12 pm

        Eh, I dunno, my BF and I have some say into how each person spends their spending money so I guess I just have a different perspective. Like I would be upset if instead of saving $1000/month like he does he was blowing it. And he would be upset if I was spending my limited spending money on clothes instead of saving it and putting it into a 401K. And I have a boyfriend who offers to help with rent when it goes up even though he doesn’t live with me.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 2:25 pm

        Right, everyone has different perspectives here, but there is nothing wrong with him not doing it the way you and your BF do it, or being put off by her asking for more money now that he’s got more of it because he works more.

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 2:52 pm

        EXACTLY. How is is that only you and me, LBH, see that reasonhe us making twice ss much is that he is also WORKING nearly twice as much. 60 hours versus 35 to 40… Honestly, if I was the boyfriend and my significant other cane to me like this… It would cause me to question the relationship. It really, truly would. “Hey, you make twice what I do — nevermind you work twice the hours I do… Shouldn’t I now pay less? Especially since I’m just the groomsmen who can’t say no? And isn’t it GREAT we have no ring or a date but I am assuming that your money is mine already?”

        Yikes. I’d be out the door… FAST!!!

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 2:54 pm

        Sorry about all the typos. I am iphoning while dogwalking!! πŸ˜‰

      • A La Mode July 1, 2013, 2:59 pm

        I don’t know, if this is a tit-for-tat relationship, then the boyfriend is saving a bit of money and energy and stress by having LW maintain the household. That should be factored in at least a little bit.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:05 pm

        Honestly, the easiest fix, if she’s obsessed with being totally equal and doesn’t want resentment to continue to grow, is simply getting a cleaning service. End of story. Problem solved. Free up your time to discuss what you both want for your futures.

      • A La Mode July 1, 2013, 3:15 pm

        I like that idea… It’s really nice to have housekeeping take care of everything while studying, etc.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:04 pm

        Honestly, if I was the boyfriend and my significant other cane to me like this… It would cause me to question the relationship. It really, truly would.

        Same here. In LW’s defense, she really didn’t sound like a greedy asshole by any means. In a way, I sorta understand why she would think this way. “Hey, BF got a raise! Woo Hoo! That means we’ll both be better off!” Except that, they aren’t married and haven’t combined finances, so its off the mark.

      • BreezyAM July 1, 2013, 10:23 pm

        BGM I have to agree here. I don’t have any problem wth LW feeling this way but hello they are not even engaged. They are roomies who fuck right now basically. I’m not trying to be mean when I say that but I think a lot of people (hetero women especially but maybe it’s just my view that skews that way) put WAY more stock into moving in with someone than they should.

      • eelavocado July 1, 2013, 2:33 pm

        Just to clear all this up–No, I’m not (and was not) struggling to pay the 50-50. I have been more concerned about money recently due to the influx of weddings, but I can pay my 50%.

        I don’t have much (if any) money to spare for savings each month, and that really bothers me… But I’m going to think about declining wedding-related things so that I can save more of my own money.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 2:52 pm

        In that event, if I were you, I would be more focused on talking about where you are headed (along the lines of Wendy’s lists about what to discuss before marrying). I’d just leave the $ as the status quo for now.
        ps Don’t feel bad about bailing on weddings you can’t afford!

      • Portia July 1, 2013, 1:44 pm

        But I assume that he was doing more chores before his hours became longer and he started getting paid for doing work during those same hours, as opposed to doing unpaid housework or anything involving the dog or whatnot. Not that I’m saying the LW should get paid for picking up the slack around the house (and she says she’s happy to do it). If it was just that he got a job with the same hours and a big raise but otherwise everything else was the same, that might be a different story for this LW.

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 2:46 pm


      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:06 pm

        We agreed on the other letter today too. Did an alien give me a lobotomy on vacation? Surely I wasn’t drunk enough to not notice that.

  • fallonthecity July 1, 2013, 1:30 pm

    I think this is such an interesting topic. My boyfriend and I have not been dating very long and we don’t live together, but he’s the first serious-ish SO I’ve had since I’ve been in the work force (I’m 25.) In college I’d go 50-50 on everything with guys I dated, but with my current boyfriend we switch off costs more often. I try to be aware enough to make sure we stay sort of balanced, although I have no idea of what the dollar amounts look like – I cook a lot and buy the groceries for that, he works on my motorcycle a lot and buys the parts for that, etc. He’s got a really high salary when he’s working, but he’s also very susceptible to contract lay-offs, while I have a more modest salary in a very secure job, so I don’t know that our overall net income is that different. Anyway, if we stick it out long term, it will be interesting for me to navigate this issue since I have never done it before. I look forward to following the discussion here.

    Reply Link
  • bethany July 1, 2013, 1:41 pm

    Basically copied from the forum:

    My husband and I make right around the same amount of money, so we don’t’ have the same problem you do. But generally, when it comes to weddings we do the β€œYour friend, you pay” thing. You pay for the gift and the hotel if it’s your friend. When we’ve flown to a wedding we each paid for our own airfare.

    The way we do our finances is that we each put the same amount into a joint account for household expenses (mortgage, car, groceries, utilities, some fun $$), and then we each have our own checking accts for our personal stuff (student loans, my wine and yoga addictions, his motorcycle).

    We’ve been doing it this way for about 4 years and haven’t had a problem yet.

    We’re also like GG- Any debt you had prior to the relationship is your own problem.
    Also, I do about 95% of the cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping. I also tend to deal with most of the annoying paperwork (house stuff, medical stuff), and take care of getting the cats to the vet/making sure he goes to the Dr. However, he does all the “Man” stuff. He has done countless home renovation projects since we bought our house, he does all the car stuff, he lifts heavy stuff and kills bugs. I wish he did a little more cleaning, but I don’t think he sees dirt. It’s like our eyes function completely differently!

    Reply Link
    • GatorGirl July 1, 2013, 1:48 pm

      We split our money like y’all too. A set amount into the joint account to cover the household expenses and then the balance to pay our own bills/fun money.

      Reply Link
      • bethany July 1, 2013, 1:54 pm

        Hmmm… Now that I’m thinking about it… I put about double what he does into my 401K, and my company does some matching… So, when you think about it, I’m paying more for our future than he is. Basically I’m going to be his sugar mama? I need to rethink this!

      • GatorGirl July 1, 2013, 2:18 pm

        Ohhhh I’m the only one with a retirement savings right now! And I pay for his dental insurance! Haha! We’re totes sugar mama’s.

      • honeybeenicki July 1, 2013, 2:34 pm

        Uh oh, I’m in the same situation almost. I have a retirement account and I pay for health insurance for me, him and his 2 kids! He does pay for the dental insurance through his employer though. Unfortunately it’s a super basic dental plan that covers next to nothing. I think we should start shopping for a new plan. Thanks, now you just added something to my to do list.

      • bethany July 1, 2013, 3:09 pm

        My health insurance( and vision and dental) is totally free for me and my family, so my husband went on mine when we got married, and his company gave him an extra week of vacation for not using their benefits! I really am a sugar mama!!!

      • Copa July 1, 2013, 3:46 pm

        Free insurance sounds like such a sweet deal! Mine is more affordable than many of my friends seem to have, but even knowing that doesn’t stop me from sadfacing every time I see how much I pay in a year.

    • Copa July 1, 2013, 1:58 pm

      This is how I’ve always imagined I’d handle finances in a marriage. I think the “yours, mine, and ours” approach creates MUCH less room for any arguments that could arise if one person spends “too much” from a joint account on something fun or frivolous.

      Since I’m a Huge Creep, I’ve already wondered — very prematurely — about how it’d work if things work out between me and my current boyfriend. His pay is about twice mine, so I don’t know how we’d split things. Would we still put equal amounts into the joint account? Would he put more in the joint account based on his income? Obviously, it’s irrelevant for the time being, but I kinda dread the idea of having a conversation about finances with him (or anyone, really). I think I’ll always feel somewhat guilty if I don’t make as much as a partner. Whenever I log in to my mint.com account and see my net worth, I laugh. Haha.

      Reply Link
      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 2:43 pm

        But I think the thing is – once you’re married you are a team. So it’s not like he’ll be keeping score. And if he does and is that type of person you won’t want to marry him anyway you know? I mean my mom had hobby jobs and never once financially contributed to the family, but they are living off of “their retirement” you know?

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 2:59 pm

        That’s it right there. For MOST couples, you are only a team once you are married, financially or otherwise. If your boyfriend drops dead, you aren’t entitled to a damn thing. If he chooses to marry you, only then are you truly entitled to any of his money.

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:03 pm

        Speaking of entitlement – do you guys want to talk about how sexy separation agreements are? From here on out I’m pre-nup all the way.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:13 pm

        I’ve yet to do a pre- or post-nup for a couple without secretly thinking they have no chance in hell. YET, ironically, I’m all for them, haha. What does that say about my relationship?!

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:23 pm

        But as an attorney, doing what you do, don’t you think it’s SO much smarter to divide assets while you’re both thinking rationally? People are literally at their lowest when they get divorced and end up fighting over things just to be spiteful, not even because they care! It’s scary what heartbreak does to people and the little amount of power they think they can get by fucking with the other. I think pre-nup’s are romantic. It’s like saying, I hope this works out baby, but if it doesn’t I promise not to destroy your life.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:27 pm

        Those are the reasons I am all for them. But, I don’t think people are necessarily clear-headed when they are about to get married. They are all mushy and lovey and she’ll never screw me over, so of course I’ll give her 75% of my business that she’s played no role in…

      • kerrycontrary July 1, 2013, 3:26 pm

        But doesn’t everyone in the US automatically have a pre-nup–Their state’s individual laws on divorce? My understanding is that a pre-nup is personal preferences that aren’t included in the state’s laws. I completely understand pre-nups when one person is coming in with signifcantly more assets. Or it’s a second marriage and there are retirement funds/childrens college funds/child support.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:28 pm

        My experience has been that most people have them when one has way more $, or second marriage, like you said.

      • HmC July 1, 2013, 8:24 pm

        Actually if you’re coming in with significantly more assets, that’s separate property that your SO isn’t entitled to anyway. In a community property state like California, you need to be much more careful if one party is coming in with a much higher earning *potential*, because every single penny you make once you’re married gets divvied up 50/50 upon dissolution because it is community property. I know nothing about non community property states, but in a community property state, the impact on your future finances is incredibly significant. I think it’s really naive to go into marriage not even understanding what marriage legally means.

        That said, I have mixed feelings about pre nups. I mean, get one, sure, why not? But they get overturned a lot. Like any contract, you can’t just throw in whatever terms you want and expect a court to enforce it. You can only include certain things in a pre nup, and even then I’ve seen a lot of them get thrown out. So I guess my point is, don’t depend on them too much? Like, don’t take marriage any less seriously because you think your pre nup is iron clad.

      • HmC July 1, 2013, 8:27 pm

        Oh! And I just saw your last line about child support. Just as an FYI, child support belongs to children, not parents, so pre nups generally cannot contract away a partner’s ability to collect child support, and pre nups can’t limit or control child support really in any way. Just one good example of something pre nups cannot ever do. (disclaimer- California law only here)

      • katie July 1, 2013, 8:49 pm

        i really hate that pre-nups arent enforceable all the time. if im not able to make one that wont get overturned (is there a way to do that?) i might not get legally married.

        i dont agree with all the aspects of legal marriage, and i feel like i should be able to change them if i want to, and if my partner and i agree to that!

      • BreezyAM July 1, 2013, 10:28 pm

        But there are lots of ways many contracts can be overturned. This is not unique to pre-nups!

        In theory yes you and your partner should be able to change those aspects… but a) why then get legally married period? b) informed consent… how does the state ensure people who basically sign away their rights are given informed consent to do so? How do they know you’re going into this intelligently, but that some 17 yr old is not?

      • HmC July 2, 2013, 12:16 am

        Like Breezy said, it’s basically a contract issue. We don’t want to give you a legal forum ie. court resources to make a decision if one of you decides you don’t want to abide by the contract, except with certain contracts that abide by specific standards. A court doesn’t want to waste resources forcing your husband to, for example, mow the lawn every day. Not to mention, that’s kind of like involuntary servitude. You’re free to have whatever relationship agreement with your SO that you want, including not getting married. But if you want legal protection, you have to play by the court’s rules of your state. The system is clunky enough as it is, it’s got to draw the line somewhere.

      • lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 9:26 am

        I hate that contracts can be overturned also (obviously valid ones, not where they execute under duress, etc.).
        My daughter’s biological father signed (in the presence of 2 witnesses and a notary) an agreement waiving his parental rights, essentially agreeing to never see a child that he wants nothing to do with, which allowed for him to never pay child support, and its worthless. If he ever wanted to, he could bring it to court and have it torn up. CRAZY!
        2 adults agree to something, put it in writing and its ignored. I hate that!

    • ktfran July 1, 2013, 2:55 pm

      This is closely to how I would prefer to do things if I were in a long-term relationship or married. However, if he we making a shit ton more than me, then we might not add to the “ours” pot equally. And vice versa. If I were making a lot more than him, I would add more to the “ours” pot. I’m talking significantly more. Like close to double.

      Reply Link
      • bethany July 1, 2013, 3:13 pm

        I agree with you. We’ll have to cross that bridge soon, because my husband has been making a bit more with his photography. Presently he’s using a lot of that money for gear upgrades and advertising, but eventually he’s going to be making a lot more from that, and I can’t imagine that he would just keep it all for himself….?

      • GatorGirl July 1, 2013, 3:28 pm

        No, he wants to give all the new money to the baby! πŸ˜›

      • bethany July 1, 2013, 3:34 pm

        Don’t you curse me!! My appetite has been gone for like the past 2 weeks, and I’ve convinced myself that I’m pregnant, and I’m too scared to take the test!

      • GatorGirl July 1, 2013, 3:44 pm

        πŸ˜€ Horray babies!

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:48 pm

        Can you take it while live-streaming on DW? Pleassseeeee.

      • bethany July 1, 2013, 3:56 pm

        Haha! I don’t think so. The thing is, I have no idea when I’m even supposed to get my period either… Soo…?? I’m kinda lost. I have the Copper IUD, so it’s not like I can just go look at my pills to see where I am in my cycle. I’m going to have to think hard about this.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:59 pm

        I had that same problem when I was pregnant. Never kept track of when I was supposed to get it. By the time I realized it had been a while, it had actually been 2 months or something. Oops.

      • bethany July 1, 2013, 4:02 pm

        This isn’t making me feel any better!!! I just looked through my calendar, thinking that might help me remember… Nope. No idea.

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 4:11 pm

        Wait did I miss this? When did you take the IUD out?

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 4:13 pm

        Think about where you were last time you got it.

      • bethany July 1, 2013, 4:18 pm

        No, it’s still in!

        I seriously can’t remember. At all. That’s not good.

      • bethany July 1, 2013, 4:28 pm

        WAIAT– I think I had it the 2nd week in June. Ok, I think I’m safe! Unless I got knocked up between then and now…??? I’m probably good though, right?


      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 4:28 pm

        But then why would you think you are pregnant?

      • bethany July 1, 2013, 4:32 pm

        There’s still a teeny teeny chance. Knowing me, I would be the one person who gets knocked up on an IUD.

  • Bunnycsp July 1, 2013, 1:43 pm

    LW, Suze Orman said the fair way to split expenses is to look at how much each person makes and what the percentage is of what you make to what he makes. So if you make 30% of what he makes than you pay 30% of the bills and he pays 70%. You should not apologize about this. It isn’t about who does more around the house. You shouldn’t take other issues into this, just discuss this.

    Now, the wedding thing. I would not expect a SO to pay but it is a nice thing to do. I would ask him about travel to these weddings.

    LW, you have to think of your financial future as your own. Don’t think of it as a “we”. I know so many women who end relationships in debt while the guy was quietly saving. don’t be a financial doormat.

    Reply Link
    • kwyjiboincognito July 1, 2013, 2:06 pm

      Your last paragraph and first paragraph don’t agree, though. They can’t both be thinking of their financial futures and be splitting things according to what each makes. If he’s working the hours and making the money, it’s in his best interest to split things 50-50. She’s not being a financial doormat – she is being a financial EQUAL. Why is her financial interest more important than his?

      Reply Link
      • Bunnycsp July 1, 2013, 2:54 pm

        No, if she make 30% of what he makes but pays 50% of the bills then she is paying a way higher percentage of the bills than him. Lets say he made 70k and she made 30K so they make 100k. And lets say all expenses are 50k so they each pay 25k. But, he is only paying 33% of his income in bills and she is paying 83%. So how is that fair? How can she save for her future if he has all of this extra money to save for his retirement/future/extra expenses while she is scrimping and asking him for a “no interest loan”.

        What makes more sense is if she paid 30% of the bills and he paid 70% so she pays 15k and he pays 35k then they both have extra income that makes them save for the future. If the percentage changes then what they pay into the bills changes.

      • kwyjiboincognito July 1, 2013, 3:03 pm

        No, him looking out for HIS future means that he doesn’t give away money just because he has more. Look, either they’re together or they’re not. She can’t save for HER future only, and expect him to give her money to do that. (LW, I know this situation doesn’t apply to you AT ALL, I’m just astonished that someone is saying that anyone should plan their exit by asking their SO to pay more!) If you’re talking about retirement and they’re married/still together, then his retirement becomes hers anyway. So why should he give her money for HER retirement, when it’s possible that he’ll never see that money again? Also, I think everyone here understands the concept of percentages.

      • Bunnycsp July 1, 2013, 4:36 pm

        Let me tell you, so many women get in bad financial situations because they are thinking “we” all the time. I love my husband and want to stay together forever, but both of us have significant amounts of money in our own names. At this point, she is only legally a roommate, and chances are, her expenses are heightened because she is in a relationship with someone that makes more. So why should she struggle. And it isn’t giving her money, it is taking on more of the expenses. This is why I don’t think people should live together before they are married, I think it gives a financial inequality where he is reaping the benefits of a roommate that cooks, cleans, and has sex with him and she practically bankrupts herelf while doing it.

      • kwyjiboincognito July 1, 2013, 6:04 pm

        Right, she should be thinking of herself. As in, living within her means. Saving appropriately. Contributing to her retirement. None of that has changed AT ALL by him suddenly making more. She is not paying more, in an absolute sense, toward any of the bills that they had last month. The percentage thing is bullcrap, and that can be solved by a discussion in which she says she will live within her means and it is up to him to fund anything outside that he wants to do together. It is not up to him to fund her lifestyle and future until they decide that they want to legally bind themselves together, because then he DOES have a stake in her financial future. And there is nothing financially inopportune about living together. In fact, my fiance’s expenditures went up and mine went down (he lived in young-twenties bachelor’s quarters and my parents had been funding a pretty nice lifestyle for me). Also, he also does all of the cooking and cleaning because I work 70 hour weeks at $25k and he makes waaay more for a traditional 40 hours. He is the most wonderful person in supporting my career aspirations, and I regularly tell him so. Generalizing about people who live together before marriage is just idiotic. Also, I would hope the woman was enjoying the sex as much as the man, and that should not even be part of this discussion.

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 3:07 pm

        Yes… But he also works nearly twice the hours… Why is it so hard to grasp this? Was Barbie right all those years ago!? πŸ˜‰

      • Bunnycsp July 1, 2013, 4:43 pm

        She is working 67% of the time in a traditional work hours. But I am arguing that expenditures they make are usually inflated based on the higher of the two incomes. All bills go up to a place of the higher income. If he made less than her all bills would go down (lower rent, utilities because smaller apartment, cheaper groceries). So because his income is causing the uncomfortable set point for the LW, he should pay the higher share.

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 5:01 pm

        I don’t see how their expenditures have suddenly inflated because HIS income went up one measly month ago… They don’t suddenly have a larger apartment. And if he doesn’t even ever eat at home (her words, not mine) the groceries shouldn’t even factor into the equation as they are all hers… Since she is home 37% more of the time than he is, she should pay a higher percentage or the utilities as she’s running them up…

        Moreover, if he suddenly makes more than her now… Doesn’t that mean a month ago she was making more than him on an hour per hour basis? If so, why doesn’t she owe him for all that time when SHE should have been paying more…


      • Bunnycsp July 1, 2013, 5:12 pm

        Your last line is correct, in my financial plan, this always worked for the higher vs lower income person. And it should be adjusted as incomes change. Look, this plan absolutely helps the poorer of the two. But I don’t see how in a relationship, you can have one person racking up debt while the other is saving for his future. His expenses are lowered by having her in the home compared to living on his own. So by paying a larger percentage still has him coming out ahead.

      • eelavocado July 1, 2013, 5:25 pm

        BGM, you’re right. Our expenditures have not suddenly inflated in the last month. I am just providing this information for information’s sake, but I am saving him money on bills in other ways (Ex. He’s on my family’s cell phone plan; I renegotiated our cable to a lower price; I typically buy our laundry quarters and toiletries–since I buy the groceries.) Therefore, I think our utilities do equal out in the end.

        I actually just calculated it out, and if you divide the number of hours he works, he does make the same as me per hour. That is interesting, and it makes me think about our incomes differently now.

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 5:42 pm

        As it should. If you are both making the same hourly wage — only he works more — I definitely think that much of this is moot.

      • Bunnycsp July 1, 2013, 5:49 pm

        Honestly, factor in the extra household expenses and make sure they are factored into the bills. I had a friend who “split” the bills but was in charge of groceries, laundry detergent and all decorations in the house. It came out to $300 a month. When they broke up, he had a furnished home and she had nothing.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:16 pm

        No, if she make 30% of what he makes but pays 50% of the bills then she is paying a way higher percentage of the bills than him.

        Wrong. She’s paying the exact same percent of the bills. Imagine this in the real world…you make $100K, and I make $500K. Should you get to tell the grocer that you are paying less for milk than I am since you make less? Good luck with that. πŸ™‚

        Its funny how some think one way is fair and others completely disagree. I believe that if she wants more money to save, then its on her to make more money, not finagle him to give her more money to save.

      • Bunnycsp July 1, 2013, 4:48 pm

        See, my example would be. Lets say they decided to buy a car based on his 70k income. So they buy an Altima with a $400 car payment. If they bought a car based on her income, they would buy a kia rio at $150 a month. Socio-economically, most people raise their lifestyle to the average of their incomes, which creates an inequality in the relationship. Their bills exist because of his income. If she made 30k and he made 20k, the bills they had would not be a problem for her because they would be living a different lifestyle.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 4:51 pm

        But there bills don’t exist because of him making more. If he were forcing her to pay half for expensive dinners that he chooses to go on, that’d be one thing, but its not the case here. Also, if they lived in a place that she couldn’t afford, but he offered to pay the extra, then fine, but also not the case. She mentions nothing of living beyond her means because of him.

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 5:05 pm

        EXACTLY! At any rate, this thread does go a LONG way in making me believe that every other woman on DW is a Material Girl on the make. Yikes…

      • Bunnycsp July 1, 2013, 5:16 pm

        I prefer the term shrewd.

      • A La Mode July 2, 2013, 2:27 am

        Tomato, tomato.


  • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 1:45 pm

    With current boy and I who have been dating for a really solid and stable 4 weeks have no system yet. I dread the conversation where we have to have a system. I would rather be single for the rest of my life than sit down with someone and discuss this stuff.

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    • bethany July 1, 2013, 1:48 pm

      If it makes you feel any better, I don’t think we really discussed it. It just sort of naturally developed and we were both satisfied with how it was working. I think when we moved in together we just assumed we’d split everything equally, then after we got engaged we got the joint acct, and decided how much we’d each put in there per month, but it was still us each putting the same amt. in there.

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      • rachel July 1, 2013, 2:06 pm

        I don’t think we really discussed it either. It was just sort of assumed we’d do 50/50 once we moved in together and it’s worked out. But…I think that only works if you’re naturally on the same page in the first place haha.

    • GatorGirl July 1, 2013, 1:54 pm

      Haha. We didn’t discuss it until moving in was on the table. Y’all almost make me want to have a new BF because you’re so smitten and cute.

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      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 2:02 pm

        Um he is SO CUTE. It is super weird doing things with a new person though. With Ethan we never discussed money really because he had a lot and I was in school – so he was immediately just like – you’re already taking out loans, I pay for everything. Colin (new boy’s fake name) has so far paid for everything we’ve done out in public, except the one time we went to the wrong street fair, and he paid $60 to get in before realizing his friends were at a different one, and he was getting stressed so I immediately bought us two drinks and 4 shots, haha. But I’ve also cooked him dinner probably 3 times to every time he’s taken me out. So hopefully he isn’t resentful.

        Oh also I bought us tickets to Portland for September for his birthday in August. You can start planning vacations after knowing someone in terms of weeks and not even months right? Because that feels normal.

      • GatorGirl July 1, 2013, 2:11 pm

        Ah. It all sounds so fun! I want to go to Portland! It sounds like y’alls communication is infinitely better than a lot of people’s even after years together. Swoon.

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 2:38 pm

        Ugh he’s so cute. I’m kind of done trying to stop myself from liking him because there is heart meltage like daily. He thinks I’m funny! Even when I’m being weird and making inappropriate jokes. He doesn’t make fun of my anxiety. He tells me I’m pretty and that everything will be okay. And he talks shit to me about football! And goes running with me. And takes sampson on walks! It’s like he’s cheating. He literally knows everything I want him to do and just does it. It’s like magic. I am dating in magic land.

      • painted_lady July 1, 2013, 11:54 pm

        Dude, you are funny. So…he’s just smart. I love your inappropriate jokes.

  • Lindsay July 1, 2013, 1:50 pm

    I’ve never lived with anyone, so I’ve never had to deal with this myself. I agree that it varies from couple to couple because some people feel as though they should contribute more if they make a lot more money, and others don’t.

    I think I’d go for a balance (maybe not counting down the the dollar, though), but I think that if one partner is barely making ends meet when contributing 50 percent and the other is rolling in money, that’s going to cause some kind of resentment if it keeps going on. (Not saying this is what is happening here.) It’s hard because the amount of money a person makes is not necessarily in their control. Or it’s in your control, but in order to do the job that makes you happy, you aren’t going to be making a lot. I think part of the issue is that often one part of the couple who makes more money expects a different lifestyle, maybe a more expensive apartment or more expensive meals (like these $200 or $300 meals), which can end up almost forcing one member to spend more money than they normally would.

    Anyway, I agree with Wendy about the weddings. I think it’s different if you’ve been together for like 10 years and are fairly close to each other’s friends, but it’s weird for him to be expected to pay for a gift of someone he doesn’t know at all.

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  • Sunshine Brite July 1, 2013, 1:57 pm

    My fiance and I make similar, but he earns about 25% or so less than I do right now. Which isn’t a huge difference since neither of us makes anything. But I have bigger student loans which evens it out more too. Up until 2 weeks ago when we combined finances it was 50/50 bills split. Up until about a year into dating it was a 50/50 entertainment split unless we were specifically taking the other person out and after we moved in at about a year and a half that got much more fluid, but we went out to places we could both afford and got the other person back some other way.

    We went to 8 weddings the first summer we were dating 100% on his dime because they were his friends and he was going to use the gas to drive there regardless if I went or not and I barely knew these people.

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  • SasLinna July 1, 2013, 1:58 pm

    My boyfriend and I take turns in paying when we go out for dinner (though I’m not keeping track who paid the last time and the amounts vary a lot, I think he’s paying a bit more all in all) and buying for groceries. Usually I pay for groceries when we’re going to my place and he pays for them when we go to his. Our salaries are similar, but he has more disposable income because he doesn’t have to pay rent and he has a lot more savings (inherited money). I was very much used to the 50-50 split and would be cool continuing that way, but my boyfriend has expressed he would pay for a big trip we might take next year. I wouldn’t be able to take such a long trip if I had to pay my own way completely (I’ll still chip in for some of the cost) and he wants me to be able to travel with him. I think if it comes to it I’ll take him up on the offer.

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    • SasLinna July 1, 2013, 2:02 pm

      I’ll add that it made me quite happy that he offered to pay for the trip. Not because I want/need a partner to support me financially, but because he clearly sees it as a plan for our future together.

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  • rachel July 1, 2013, 2:11 pm

    Ross and I split things 50/50 generally. I make more, but also have more expenses (like, I have a car, and my cat and dog are more mine than ours), and I spend worse, so he has more in savings.

    When I was in a wedding after we were dating a year or so, it just kind of happened organically that I bought the present, and we split travel expenses.

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  • Fabelle July 1, 2013, 2:13 pm

    I don’t really understand the chores thing as it relates to money? Maybe in this situation, where one person is working more, but if both are working the same amount of hours, how do chores play into the financial situation at all? Why is it fair to be like, “well, I do more chores, so you should contribute more money”? I’m not trying to be argumentative; I just literally don’t get it.

    Also, I don’t live with my boyfriend, but we’re trying to get serious about saving money this summer, & I’m dreading the conversation. I mentioned it on here before, but he wants to make a budget, & I kinda…don’t…? (I think it’d be pointless right now??) I think we should both just save a couple thousand dollars, each, & then start looking for a place.

    He’s bad at saving though, so his other idea was to open a joint account. I was like, “um, not yet, why don’t ~you~ just open one, that you can think of as ‘for our place’, & I’ll give you money towards it?” Is that a better idea? Sorry to post-jack, but all these money conversations get me anxious…

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    • Fabelle July 1, 2013, 2:14 pm

      Also, I mean, we’ve already been having “the conversation”, so I guess I’m not dreading that so much as actually DOING it? Whatever “it” turns out to be?

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    • SasLinna July 1, 2013, 2:31 pm

      I don’t think chores relate to money per se. I actually specifically wouldn’t want a “chores for money” trade myself at the moment. But they are both areas where you need to share responsibility as a couple and I think there’s a relationship insofar as if you have an unequal distribution in one area, you should maybe also consider what the distribution looks like in the other area.

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      • Fabelle July 1, 2013, 2:34 pm

        Okay yeah, it makes more sense when phrased that way. I guess my befuddlement was partially arisen from the thread conversation more so than this one (where it seemed like people where grouping finances & chores together)

      • SasLinna July 1, 2013, 2:34 pm

        Also, I’m not advocating “I do more chores, so you should contribute more money”, but I would oppose “I work more hours, so you should do more chores” UNLESS that person would contribute more money.

      • Datdamwuf July 2, 2013, 12:58 pm

        agreed, I’ll tell you what, if your SO never cleans the bathroom, you are the only one doing it, that tells you more than just how to split finances

    • kerrycontrary July 1, 2013, 2:36 pm

      I think you should budget, but I love budgets! I think it just gives you a better idea of how much you have to spend on bills. Like you both moved home after college right? So it can be shocking when you add up rent, renters insurance, all your utilities, health insurance, retirement funds, etc…So how would you look for a place and know how much you could spend if you didn’t budget for rent beforehand? But it gives you a better idea of what your spending money is each month. So this way you know how much your savings goal is instead of guessing and then suddenly running out of money if one of you becomes unemployed.

      If you open a joint account for saving money together with the goal of living together you would just both have to promise not to touch it. OR, you could open a short-term CD account for 6 months where you literally couldn’t withdrawal the money from the bank (and it gives you bigger return on investment, you just have no access to the money)

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      • Fabelle July 1, 2013, 2:47 pm

        Ahh shit, you’re probably right about the budget. I guess my idea was just, well, let’s both save enough for the deposit, & the first maybe 2 months rent(?), & then we’ll figure everything else out REAL QUICK (this is literally what I said to him). But maybe we ~wouldn’t~ figure it out? And I just get the creepy-crawlies when I picture us sitting down & attempting to make a budget, so I’m trying to avoid that (which is dumb, I know).

        The CD thing could be a good idea. I do trust that neither of us would touch the savings once we established it was “for our future place”, but I’m also a bit wary about doing the joint account thing before we’re even married? The other thing is that he’s a teacher, so during the summer, his income plummets (which is partially why we’re now revisiting the budget conversation)

      • Copa July 1, 2013, 3:14 pm

        On top of all the up-front costs you’ll need for deposit & rent, you’ll also have to consider initial costs like furnishing your new place. IKEA helps, but it can still add up. You should also have an emergency stash when you move out. Things like furniture you can buy slowly over several months, but if you have some sort of emergecy — like if someone’s car breaks down or something — you’ll want to have something set aside for that.

        I think it’s also wise to over-budget before moving out. That’s what I did. Some things are in my control (not leaving lights on, using A/C only when I’m home, etc.), but I also wanted to make sure that I wasn’t underbudgeting for things like gas to get to/from work. So I came up with my gas budget pretending gas was $4.00/gallon and that I was driving to/from work every day of the month. I’m glad I did this because when I set my initial budget, gas was under $4.00, but a few weeks back it shot up to something like $4.30/gallon out of nowhere and stayed high for awhile before falling back down. I didn’t have to panic when that happened because I knew that every month I’d have enough wiggle room for $X in gas.

      • Fabelle July 1, 2013, 3:51 pm

        Over-budgeting is a good idea—especially because part of my anxiety stems from trying to figure out everything EXACTLY? So knowing I can estimate calms me a bit (as long as I’m ~over~estimating)

        We talk about furniture & stuff (his family has an old dining set he hopes to get, my parents will pay for a bedroom set, & couches should be easy enough…) but, yeah, we’ve never actually sat down & figured it out monetarily. Honestly, ugh, I might have to make a forum post about this at some point—besides the money shit, we each have to figure out what to do with the abundance of stuff we have (like clothes)

      • Copa July 1, 2013, 4:33 pm

        It’s overwhelming! I almost started a forum post about budgeting today because I have no idea if I’m saving enough but I’m thinking about moving to a new apartment — and if I’m not saving enough now, I definitely won’t be saving enough when I move.

        The best part about over-budgeting is when you’re under budget you feel like you’re a savvy saver. πŸ™‚

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:42 pm

        I’d be wary of a joint account before marriage as well. I like your idea of each saving for your place together, but just doing it separately. Cleaner that way.

      • Fabelle July 1, 2013, 3:04 pm

        Also, you’re right that we both moved home & thus have no experience with rent at all. I’m pretty good at mentally deducting my bills each month right now, but I really have no idea how rent ($1500+?) would factor in, especially when you add factoring in my boyfriend (i.e. another person’s finances) to it as well.

      • kerrycontrary July 1, 2013, 3:08 pm

        Theres plenty of stuff online about what % of your income should go to necessities (rent/utilities/paying off debt), what should go to savings, and what should go to fun stuff. I just budget because money is TIGHT due to my student loans and I would be in a ton of debt I didn’t.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:41 pm

        I love budgets. I wish it was acceptable to ask people if I can make budgets for them. I enjoy them far too much.

      • rachel July 1, 2013, 3:44 pm

        Um, I would totally let you make my budget for me. I’m embarrassed at how much money I spend eating out…but I think you would *get* that.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:53 pm

        haha, I probably would. Went a little crazy on vacation. As you probably, I love shopping, and eating out, but of course want my sisters to join in on the fun too, but they can’t afford it that much, so I splurged on not only me, but my 2 sisters and lil. Peter says I’m not allowed to use him as an excuse to shop, so I’m not allowed to buy him clothes (so I just sneak them in his closet, haha). We had so much fun last week. I already miss them.

        In my budgeting, I actually don’t know what I spend on clothes and food. That’s all under my “misc” category. I think if I actually added it up, I would vomit.

      • Fabelle July 1, 2013, 3:47 pm

        You can make ME a budget! πŸ˜€

        And yeah, as to your other point, I do think it’d be better for each of us to save separately, but he seems to have no motivation to do that unless it’s “for us” aka a joint account. That’s why I’m hoping to just trick him into making his own savings account, I guess? An account that’s verbally “ours” but only has his name on it?

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:52 pm

        You can make me one! Can I just give you my bank statements? What else would you need? I only have one account so you would see the take home pay and then everything I spend money on.

    • SpaceySteph July 1, 2013, 5:35 pm

      I have a hard time framing this argument in non-spouse terms. I do think the expectations should be different if you are living together in a non-marital situation.
      But like when you are a stay at home parent or a house-spouse, essentially the breadwinner is paying all the living expenses for you and you are doing non-monetary necessary actions in a sort of trade. Childcare and housekeeping are both jobs which have a cost in the real marketplace so by doing them you are contributing financially ( as in “we don’t have to pay this much money for this because you do it) to the household.
      Now it’s a little weirder to think of it the same way for a non-married couple; but really the LW is doing things of value to the household (housework, dog-care) with her spare time which she has more of in exchange for working less. So why shouldn’t the boyfriend contribute more of his money, which he earns in exchange for less spare time, to contribute to the household. I suppose the other alternative is that the LW could look into a second job at starbucks to bring up her income and they both equally pay someone else to walk the dog and do the laundry. Why is that somehow more fair than him just paying for more rent?

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      • SpaceySteph July 1, 2013, 5:37 pm

        That is.. I DON’T think. Really ruins the argument when you mistype like that.

  • Sue Jones July 1, 2013, 2:17 pm

    This is always such a hard one. For years I paid for most things because I made more. Eventually I got resentful and now we do 50-50 or so. He hands me a big check at the beginning of the month, I write the bills, grocery shop, etc. But then he paid 100% of his stepson’s expenses… it gets complicated. I think it is fair that if he is earning 2x as much as you that the bills should be split 2/3, 1/3. Especially if you are doing more of the cooking and cleaning. And dinners out are bonus. Definitely time for that serious talk. Especially if you are heading towards marriage. If not, and you are just sharing rent, etc. then 50-50. I think the financial split has a lot to do with how serious the relationship is. A typical roommate situation is a 50-50 split, or all bills shared equally. But once you are married it changes, usually.

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  • lemongrass July 1, 2013, 2:23 pm

    We combined finances right before we got engaged but before that we split things according to income/ chores. My husband paid the mortgage, I paid bills. I worked 4 days a week and did most of the cleaning on that fifth day that I otherwise would have worked. We split wedding gifts 50/50 but we also feel that way about our friends! Money was never a huge issue for us as we don’t put a lot of meaning into it. Money can have a lot of power in a relationship if you let it but we actively choose not to let it.

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    • kerrycontrary July 1, 2013, 2:29 pm

      Yes! Yeh we’re so not stressed about money. Like I think people can get really nitpicky about their money, whereas I see it as “it’s just money”. I think couples do need to have a plan and have the same financial goals, but I think people can get too particular about smaller expenses and itemizing things.

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      • honeybeenicki July 1, 2013, 2:37 pm

        I’m with you. Like I said below, as long as the bills get paid and we have some money for fun… well, I don’t really care.

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 2:41 pm

        Yeah I agree it shouldn’t be a big deal.. but after reading this site I’m more awkward about money than I was before. All I seem to see is this nickle and diming and that everything has to be 50/50 which is so weird to me. I don’t think I’ve ever paid for a dinner out with a date. Whether it was boyfriend or husband. And I never even though about it before. Now I have some weird guilt about it. But I guess I do tend to pay for really big things in relationships that I want to do and drag them to do, like plane tickets and stuff. So I guess maybe it isn’t super far apart, but I’m still pretty sure I’ve never even come close to 50/50 contribution.

      • kerrycontrary July 1, 2013, 2:56 pm

        I’ve definitely paid MORE in a relationship before because that boyfriend would blow his money on stupid shit he didn’t need and then be like “oh can you buy me food I don’t have money to eat”. Right now I’m 70/30 but I know I contribute to our relationship, and I don’t think my BF cares. So whatevs. Maybe I should feel guilty but I always offer to pay, so that’s what counts right?

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:44 pm

        I think when you get to the point of nickle and diming, you are bigger issues than money.

  • honeybeenicki July 1, 2013, 2:32 pm

    Hmm, I think my husband and I must be a weird situation. We don’t do 50/50 or an actual percentage. Basically, I’m in charge of making sure the bills get paid. I pay all of the bills with my check and then he gives me the majority of his check (definitely a lot less than 50% of the bills, but leaving him enough spending money/saving money/etc for the pay period).

    We don’t have a set amount he needs to give me. He does do most of the chores though. Mostly I just clean the bathroom. Everything else is him unless I get a bug up my butt and want to clean stuff. He does pay a huge chunk of his check to child support and if he didn’t, our checks would probably equal out about the same. But as far as we’re concerned, as long as the bills get paid and we have some money left over for fun then we’re ok.

    This weekend he and his kids are going to get a crash course in budgeting because I realized the kids have almost no idea how to budget (they are nearly 13 and 16) and he would be lost if something were to happen to me. So they get to learn how to budget our household. Lucky them πŸ™‚

    So anyway, I have nothing valuable to add. We’ve always worked the finances this way, I’ve always been the higher earner, and we don’t really have anything set in stone. If I need more from him one month for some reason or another, I just let him know. When we go to events and weddings, we pitch in equally for everything involved. I’m starting to think we’re very strange.

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    • Taylor July 1, 2013, 2:57 pm

      I like this. If it works for you, it’s not strange.

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  • ebstarr July 1, 2013, 2:36 pm

    “I would not use sex as a negotiating tactic or you risk commodifying intimacy in your relationship which is weird at best and unhealthy, degrading, and disastrous at worst.”

    I love this!! So many people think it’s funny to suggest that a woman in a straight relationship should withhold sex every time she’s not getting her way. Leaving alone the implied assumption that only one of them actually needs sex and it’s not the female partner, it’s exactly what you call it, “commodifying intimacy.” Love that you came up with that phrase!

    I love the rest of the post too.

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    • ebstarr July 1, 2013, 3:35 pm

      And here’s what I don’t get about some of the comments here and on the forums yesterday: this idea that the LW is some kind of gold-digger. She has an excess of one scarce resource–time. He has an excess of a different resource–money. She has been sharing her time out of a spirit of cooperation, even when he had no more money than she did; meanwhile, he is treating his money as his own individual resource. It’s TOTALLY FINE for him to not want their finances to be combined just yet, but it’s near-sighted to accuse her of selfishness just because the dollar is the easiest, most convenient way to attach value to anything. In my opinion, time is at least as scarce, perhaps more so; we will all die one day, after all, often without doing close to everything we wanted to do…

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      • eelavocado July 1, 2013, 4:29 pm

        I can assure you all: I am not a gold digger. We left our previous, miserable jobs in a (lucrative) financial field to pursue jobs in fields we actually like. We had no idea how much money we would be able to earn in publishing/bartending, but we have been supportive of each other from the get-go.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 4:34 pm

        I’m totally jealous of people who have the balls to do that. Or relocate. Just beyond jealous.

      • eelavocado July 1, 2013, 4:45 pm

        It was a little scary, but I’m so glad we did it! It took this entire year to become established (find a good tailor, make awesome friends, etc.), but (we had this convo the other day) we finally feel like we’ve “made it.” πŸ™‚

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 4:52 pm

        Love that finding a good tailor was at the top of your list, haha!

      • eelavocado July 1, 2013, 4:55 pm

        Girl’s best friend! … Other than wine. πŸ˜‰

    • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:45 pm

      Do those women not like sex? That’s what’s always been strange to me about that. Like, I’d be punishing myself too. Don’t bite off your tongue to spite your nose, ya know?

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      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:56 pm

        Yeah I completely agree. Although I also think it’s equally crazy when people can be fighting with their SO’s and still bang. To me banging is kind of emotional, and if my emotions hate you at the moment, so does my hot pocket. So I never “withhold” sex on purpose, but I am sure as shit not banging you if we’re fighting. But it’s not like I’d be like – once you give in we will bang.

      • ebstarr July 1, 2013, 3:59 pm

        Yes exactly! Enforced celibacy does not sound like a very fun way to improve a relationship πŸ™‚

      • BreezyAM July 1, 2013, 10:43 pm

        I guess some feel like it’s easier for women to get consistent regular sex? Not I. I am not kidding when I say MrAM is damn lucky he’s good in bed because the sole reason he was not handed walking papers on more than a handful of occasions was because the idea of finding an adequate replacement in that area was too overwhelming for me.

  • sarolabelle July 1, 2013, 2:45 pm

    I can’t imagine what there is to vacuum every day. I vacuum/mop once a week. And your dog seems to be getting a little too much exercise if you ask me. I’m not sure how you have time for Dear Wendy! πŸ™‚

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    • eelavocado July 1, 2013, 2:50 pm

      During the winter, cleaning is a little better. Our 40lb. dog sheds the amount of our vacuum container every day (eep!) during the spring/summer. Love her to pieces, though. Haha, I’m usually a lurker and I read DW on my lunch breaks… but right now I’m checking it in between meetings since I’m actually participating. πŸ˜‰

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      • findingtheearth July 1, 2013, 3:26 pm

        can you have her hair cut without her looking ridiculous? My dog is half sheepdog, half american bull dog, and I have her hair cut in the summer and groomed at least once a month all year, because she sheds, sheds, sheds.

      • eelavocado July 1, 2013, 3:49 pm

        We’re lucky in that we don’t need to cut her hair. She has short, kind of wiry hair; she’s a Catahoula Leopard. (She looks a lot like this dog: Her spots are awesome, but not-so awesome for shedding during the spring/summer! Her hair is both black and white, so you can see it on EVERYTHING.

    • LadyinPurpleNotRed July 1, 2013, 2:57 pm

      How are three walks a day too much exercise?

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      • ktfran July 1, 2013, 4:01 pm

        Right? I realized on Saturday evening that I was making my third trip to a neighborhood north of my house. About 1 mile and a half. I don’t own a car – walked that trip to and from my apartment three times – and thought really thought nothing of it. Until I realized that I was going on trip number three and thinking maybe I should just move to Lincoln Square.

      • pamplemousse July 1, 2013, 4:10 pm

        Pretty sure that was sarcasm πŸ˜‰

      • pamplemousse July 1, 2013, 4:11 pm

        Oops, posted this in the wrong place. Disregard.

      • sarolabelle July 1, 2013, 5:13 pm

        My dogs are lucky they get one. I have no time for that!

      • LadyinPurpleNotRed July 1, 2013, 5:22 pm

        That’s so sad!!!

      • eelavocado July 1, 2013, 8:05 pm

        Maybe it helps if I add that I live in NYC. If we don’t take her outside, then she would pee and poo inside our apartment. She’s 40lb., so that would be kind of gross. πŸ™‚

      • katie July 1, 2013, 8:12 pm

        i feel sorry for your dogs…

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 8:51 pm

        Well, maybe they have a bit yard to play in. I dunno.

        It amazes me how often people get pets when they don’t have time for them. Of course, if they did — I’d be out of a day job. πŸ˜‰ Still, it’s funny. All morning long, I go from one empty, giant house to the next taking the saddest, loneliest, most neurotic dogs in all the land out for a walk… Then I take them home and lock them up again for the rest of the day. Some are even crated much of the time as they act out and are so destructive…

        People are truly just… well… very bizarre and often careless creatures.

      • katie July 1, 2013, 9:03 pm

        hm, big yard, ok, maybe.

        but yes, that is the sad reality. i see it all the time at the shelter i volunteer at. we had one idiot come in and literally say “i didnt know my great dane was going to get so big”.

        i mean i dont think having someone walk your dog once a day is a bad thing. people work, and the dog needs to be walked. but then, you should be taking your dog out in the morning, then the walker at noon, and then again in the evening. you cant, as you say, just crate up a dog and confine them all day and expect them to be good pets.

        also, that is the number one reason i dont have a dog yet. it would be borderline cruel for me to have a dog at this stage of my life.

      • Copa July 1, 2013, 10:10 pm

        Do you want to hear the saddest story ever?

        A college friend of mine moved to a new city after we graduated and found it lonely. She wanted a pet, so I suggested a cat; they still like company, need love, and want to play with you, but are lower maintenance than dogs. She didn’t listen. She got a dog maybe two years ago. I saw her for the first time in a couple years a few months ago and asked about her dog. I asked what she does with it when she’s at work since I know she has a VERY demanding day job.

        Her answer? She keeps him in the car, in his crate, all day long. With the window cracked open, she explained (as if that were going to make me feel less sad for her dog). WTF?

        She makes just shy of $100K. You’d think at the very least, she’d be able to pay someone to take care of her dog during the day for her and/or enroll him in puppy day care.

        Ugh. Poor pup.

      • katie July 1, 2013, 10:33 pm

        you should report her- thats animal abuse, plain and simple.

      • Copa July 1, 2013, 10:43 pm

        I’ve actually thought about it, but I don’t know if it’s right to report something I’ve never seen…? I mean, I know it has happened — and may still be happening — because she told me, but if I call the ASPCA, I don’t know what I’d say since I’m so far removed.

      • katie July 1, 2013, 10:45 pm

        you call and say you have heard that a dog is in a crate in a car in X company parking lot every day- that is all you know (but really why would your friend lie to you, you know?). they will investigate as they see fit, or can, or whatever.

        thats all you can do. you could also tell your friend she is an animal abuser. but either way the dog needs to be taken away from her. god i hate people.

      • katie July 1, 2013, 10:47 pm

        oh maybe, better yet, you call and say your friend jane smith has told you this is going on- and you give them her phone number, company name, address, ect.

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 11:00 pm

        I’d go investigate if you can. Do you live in the same city. Go to her work some day and see if it’s true… Take pictures and call the proper authorities right there and then.

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 10:44 pm

        Yeah, that IS illegal in most states and that bitch deserves to do hard time…

      • Copa July 1, 2013, 11:10 pm

        We don’t live in the same city. I’m in the midwest and she’s in the Pacific Northwest now. The best I’d be able to do is give them her name & the name of the giant corporation she works for. I don’t know that the information I could provide about her, without anything more concrete than “she told me herself!”, would be enough to prompt any sort of investigation.

        I actually DID tell her it’s animal abuse, but she shrugged my comment aside and half-heartedly told me she’d looked into day care but hadn’t acted on it yet. I don’t think I should’ve been as surprised as I was, though — she’s very book smart but was somehow shocked that a puppy was a lot of work. (Erm. Puppies are BABIES, I don’t know what she was expecting…?)

      • bittergaymark July 1, 2013, 11:15 pm

        At any rate — I’d drop her as a friend.

      • bethany July 2, 2013, 9:18 am

        That’s freaking horrible. What is wrong with people?

      • Fabelle July 2, 2013, 9:27 am

        Ugh, the “book smart” thing you wrote below makes me think of this girl ~I~ know—she’s the daughter of my boyfriend’s neighbors, around my age, & my boyfriend has to go feed the neighbor’s cats when they’re away EVEN IF SHE’S HOME (she lives there, & at an apartment elsewhere) because she’s too spacey to remember to do it.

        Anyway, she wound up adopting kittens—brother & sister—& then never getting them fixed when it was time. They wound up having sex, the one kitty becoming pregnant, & all the kittens weren’t healthy enough to survive. I seriously wanted to MURDER this girl for being such a dumbass.

      • GatorGirl July 2, 2013, 8:30 am

        You need to report her. That is animal abuse plain and simple. She deserves to be ticketed and/or arrested and have the poor animal removed from her care. Call the local animal control agency or SPCA and just send in an anonymous tip. I’m so appalled.

        Temperatures SKYROCKET inside of a car, even with the windows cracked. It can get up to over 100 degrees within 20 minutes.

  • Taylor July 1, 2013, 2:55 pm

    We had significantly different incomes for a while. We shared household expenses 50/50 and he paid for more stuff out. It wasn’t a hardship for me to share things though, and I tracked vacation expenses and whatnot and just asked him for the money when there was a discrepancy. For our wedding, we split things pretty evenly in the end – my family pitched in more, but he got me the (expensive) photographer I wanted as a birthday gift. For weddings, so far it’s been my friends getting married, and I take care of the gift.
    The best thing I’ve learned about sharing expenses with someone is that my compulsive budgeting tendencies are a good thing. When he changed jobs (to one that paid 35% less), I was able to pull out my spreadsheet and show him what we could cut to accommodate the change in income. When we got married, we created a joint account for shared expenses. I calculated monthly contributions based on my known expenses and his estimated expenses, and we deposited wedding gifts in it as well. When big stuff comes up, we talk about it. He has more savings than I do, based on a significantly larger salary for a few years, and when we get a house, he’s going to end up putting in a lot more for the downpayment. One of the bigger changes I’ve noticed over the last year (after we got married) is that I’ve really stepped back on tracking who paid for what outside of calculating total expenses. That was a big step for me.

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  • A La Mode July 1, 2013, 2:56 pm

    I think that the answer is that whatever feels right to you both is what is right for you both. It sounds like a lot has changed recently in regard to roles and spending habits in your relationship, and that he is happy with it while you are not. My own opinion about your situation does not matter. You need to sit down and have a serious talk – what if the roles were reversed? Will there be any changes to either of your habits after tying the knot? It may be that you are not on the same page, and it’s okay if it turns out that you both have a different opinion on how the relationship should work… All the planning and foresight in the world sometimes doesn’t affect how you feel once you actually arrive at a set of circumstances. But you definitely need to talk with him and figure out what will make both of you happy – be it learning how to respect your boyfriend’s desires, him modifying his behaviors to suit you, or breaking up. No matter what, it’s more important that both of you feel respected and understood.

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  • Addie Pray July 1, 2013, 2:58 pm

    I hate money. It ruins things. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. I hate that awkward feeling when the bill comes and you don’t know who is supposed to pay, I worry that someone feels obligated to pay, but then I worry that not letting someone pay is somehow insulting. I hate feeling used. I hate users. I hate it when people are financially irresponsible. I hate debt. I hate it when people live beyond their means. I don’t like dollar bills they smell and make your hands dirty. I also hate it when servers take your food before you’re finished. That last part was really neither here nor there except it just happened, and I wanted to share.

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    • A La Mode July 1, 2013, 2:59 pm

      I feel you, AP, I really do.

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    • honeybeenicki July 1, 2013, 3:04 pm

      I hate when servers put the bill in front of my husband instead of in a neutral place on the table. I also hate when they put things on a table right in front of the 1 year old who is in a high chair. Sure, it’s a nice place to put things because there wasn’t anything there — but that was because we moved it all! (Sorry, that had nothing to do with anything except that we went out to dinner at a pizza place with a friend and the waiter put a glass of water, the check – including 3 chocolate mints – and extra napkins right in front of her 1 year old baby.)

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      • GatorGirl July 1, 2013, 3:15 pm

        It doesn’t bother me when the check is put in front of my husband, maybe I’m the odd ball?

        It does drive me bonkers when I do put my card in the book thing and the server still puts the signature slip in front of my husband. IDK why but that drives me bonkers!

      • honeybeenicki July 1, 2013, 3:20 pm

        That’s even worse. Maybe they think his name is Mr. GatorGirl. It happens πŸ˜›
        I don’t even know why it bothers me, but it does. Maybe it’s because I feel like it might make him feel bad? I almost always pay when we go out. Every once in a while I let him keep a little extra out of his check so that he can take me out!

      • GatorGirl July 1, 2013, 3:26 pm

        We usually pay for dates out of our joint account, but husband still pays with his card 9 times out of 10. Makes him feel like he’s taking me out even though it’s our money πŸ™‚

      • Tzee July 1, 2013, 4:11 pm

        I agree, this happens to me a lot. I just think they forget who gave them the card and they automatically assume its my husband. I dont mind, he signs my receipts a lot anyways.

    • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:05 pm

      I love everything about this paragraph. If there is something left on my plate, even if it’s 3 french fries, you can assume I’m not done. Because I’m a fatty and WHO THROWS AWAY FRIES?! I’m just taking a breather to find room in my stomach. But trust, if you will it to happen, and it’s important enough to you, there will always be room in the stomach for fries.

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      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 4:03 pm

        If there is food left on ANYONE’s plate, its safe to assume Peter is not done eating, haha. It used to embarrass the shit out of me when he would take food home, or finish say, my sister’s meal, but luckily it doesn’t anymore. Just a quirk I guess. Everyone else thinks its funny.

    • kerrycontrary July 1, 2013, 3:06 pm

      confession: last week my friend got a meal with fries and I had a salad, and I wanted some of her fries but I hadn’t said anything yet. So then the server goes to take her dish away and I was like “wait I want her fries!”. I felt deep deep shame.

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      • Addie Pray July 1, 2013, 3:09 pm

        that’s what i call a regular tuesday, thursday, sat. nights and sunday brunch.

  • Fabelle July 1, 2013, 3:02 pm

    What if they take your WINE away before you’re finished? (This happened to my mom a few weeks ago when we were out for Father’s Day)

    And yeah, money sucks.

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    • Fabelle July 1, 2013, 3:02 pm

      Oops, supposed to be a reply to AP!

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    • Addie Pray July 1, 2013, 3:02 pm

      That should be a Class A felony.

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    • A La Mode July 1, 2013, 3:04 pm

      I have found that a very loud and aggressive “HEY!!!” is sufficient to make the server spill it all over themselves, which would have pleased me almost as much as finishing my glass.

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    • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:08 pm

      Who doesn’t finish wine? I don’t think I have ever left any little sip of a drink at a restaurant ever. That’s just wasteful. I’ll either order another and finish it or stop ordering drinks even if I kind of want 1/2 more glass/drink. If I am paying $8 for a stupid margarita you bet your ass I will be sucking the tequila off the ice cubes piece by piece.

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      • Fabelle July 1, 2013, 3:11 pm

        haha well, she was almost done with her glass—but definitely still drinking it— & the server was like, “want another?” She declined, & then the glass she had sitting on the table (with wine still in it!) was whisked away immediately.

    • bethany July 1, 2013, 3:18 pm

      I’d cut someone if they took my wine.

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      • findingtheearth July 1, 2013, 3:28 pm

        agree. wine stealing = shanking.

    • GatorGirl July 1, 2013, 3:24 pm

      The bartender at the airport tried to take the last two sips of my beer last night. I about jumped over the bar. No ma’am.

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      • bethany July 1, 2013, 3:32 pm

        I’m confused by your airport/bar situation– So they have a bar in the airport BEFORE security? We don’t have that in Philly, do we? We have nothing before security in Philly. A bar would be a nice addition though.

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 3:45 pm

        Denver has them… and if you think about it it’s such a good idea. That way you can just go to meet the people flying in, and if they’re delayed or whatever you just have a drink. Even if I’m just picking up my mom or a friend I always think it’s so much more polite to be waiting for them and not the other way around. It’s like that movie scene of someone you love getting off the plane and you’re there waiting already. Except in my movie you’re actually waiting at the bar.

      • GatorGirl July 1, 2013, 3:47 pm

        Yeah, the bar is before security. I think when they build the airport there wasn’t the hard division like there is now (pre and post check point) so a lot of stuff is pre-security. Burger King, Starbucks, one of the gift shops, and the bar/restaurant I was at. Post security there is a small food court, a brooks brothers, and a Chili’s. There isn’t anything similar at PHL which I think is stupid. How else does one get drunk while waiting for their husbands delayed flight?

  • Solitaryflame July 1, 2013, 3:07 pm

    Currently my husband and I make significantly different amounts of money. He has a fixed income from disability and I am in college. While I get housing money and have a part time job, most of the bills really come out of his steady income. So, what we do is put everything together in a joint account at the beginning of the month. Then, after all the bills are paid, groceries bought, and gas money allocated, we evenly split what’s left. Right now we don’t have a lot of “leftover” so it’s usually not an issue. When I was making more money (I was active duty military), we had lots of spending money and we’d allocate for savings. Now we generally have enough that if we go someplace to eat or to the movies we “go Dutch” that way each of us still feels like we have some fun money. It’s not easy, but there’s no question about whether the bills get paid or who is contributing what. We are a team and we figure as a team everything should be equal.

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  • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 3:33 pm

    Are any of you bill thieves? My family is NUTS with this. Its become like a fun competition at this point. A month ago, we went out to a big dinner (like 20 of us) and my dad got there a half hour early to arrange to pay first, only to be told my uncle came the day before to pay!

    We were out with my sister’s new boy over the weekend and overindulged in ordering big time, thinking it’d be nice if Peter and I treated everyone to a big drunk dinner. Well my sister’s new, slick boyfriend pretended to go to the bathroom and stole the bill. Peter’s still playfully annoyed days later.

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    • bethany July 1, 2013, 3:40 pm

      Can I come to dinner with your family? πŸ™‚

      When we go out with my parents they always pay. If my brother or I attempt to take the bill they won’t stand for it. Especially if it’s somewhere nice. Although they’re ok with coming over for dinner, or me bringing a bottle of wine over, or something like that. I think they just still like taking care of us… Like it makes them feel needed or something.

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      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 4:08 pm

        Yea, we’ve (the kids) only recently starting trying to pay when my dad takes us out, but still not always.
        But if its just say, me and my brother, we fight for it to a sick degree. He stole the check one night before he left for Vegas. I gave the waitress my card at the start of dinner, went to the bathroom at some point and he talked her into taking his card instead even though I told her not to. It actually was hilarious to me when the paid bill came and he signed. Anyway, the next night he was in Vegas, I found out the name of the hotel he was staying in, called it to find out where his dinner reservations were and had the waiter send over a nice bottle of wine (close to the cost of the dinner the night before) to his table with a funny note from me. It really has turned into a sick game.

      • iwannatalktosampson July 1, 2013, 4:13 pm

        I kind of love your family.

      • lets_be_honest July 1, 2013, 4:57 pm

        I kind of do too πŸ™‚

    • honeybeenicki July 1, 2013, 4:11 pm

      I admit I can be a bill stealer occasionally, but not to that excessive amount. We went out to lunch with a friend on Saturday and the bill came while she was in the restroom, so I tried to pay it but the damn server didn’t get back in time and she insisted on paying part of it. I got her back by paying for her to get into a museum we went to that day.

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    • Guy Friday July 1, 2013, 5:41 pm

      Oh, man. I grew up with that quick-draw game with my family. My dad never lets me pick up a check, my grandfather never lets any of us do it, etc. I learned to be quick with it. It took my wife 4 years, but she’s finally picking up on my silent signals for “Should we grab this?”

      True story: a few weeks ago my wife and her folks and I were going out to see a show, and we stopped in a local diner to get dinner. My wife and I had decided to pick up the check, so I stole it when it came to the table, and pooh-poohed the whole “Oh, come on, we can treat you guys” thing. Fast forward to the next morning (we stayed overnight there because the play ran late), and we went out to get breakfast. As soon as we got in the car, my wife’s dad said, “I want to make one thing perfectly clear: *I* am picking up the check today. Understood?” I would have laughed, but he was deadly serious. I think I offended him πŸ™‚

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    • Christy July 2, 2013, 8:13 am

      I had never experienced bill thieves until I went out after my friend’s final voice recital. Her parents were supposed to be treating the 10ish people at dinner, but the family friends stole the bill! It must have been like $500, easy, for all of us. It AMAZED me.

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  • Lyra July 1, 2013, 3:47 pm

    And THIS is one of the big reasons why I won’t move in with a significant other until at LEAST engagement.

    Ultimately I want to combine all finances with a husband when it gets to that point, but SO’s have separate finances like this I’m a believer in splitting expenses based on how much each person makes. If someone makes $60k per year and their SO makes $40k, split it 60% and 40%. To me, that’s the most fair. I know a lot do 50/50 but honestly that’s not fair. If you’re living together you’re both are contributing to the household. It’s not fair if one is making a good deal more money than the other.

    Not seeing eye to eye on finances is a huge deal breaker for a lot of people. It’s a big reason why my ex and I broke up. My current boyfriend and I see eye to eye on most everything financially which is amazing.

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    • LadyinPurpleNotRed July 1, 2013, 3:58 pm

      To you splitting 50/50 isn’t fair. To others percentage wouldn’t be fair. It all depends on the couple. It’s not a universal thing.

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    • Tzee July 1, 2013, 4:07 pm

      I don’t think its fair to the person making more for you to expect them to pay more. Unless they are a millionaire (in which they probably might not care). 50/50 is fair .

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      • honeybeenicki July 1, 2013, 4:16 pm

        I think it’s up to the individual couples to figure out, but here’s how a friend put it to me when she was bouncing ideas off of me for combining finances: She did not believe in the percentage because just because she was making 60% of the income (or whatever it was) and he was making 40% of the income, he didn’t only eat 40% percent of the food, use 40% of the cable, live in 40% of the house, etc.

      • painted_lady July 1, 2013, 11:03 pm

        Yeah, good point. Walter and I were dividing everything by percentages, until I realized he eats all the food, like almost twice what I do, and he doesn’t exactly, um, NEED it, if you know what I mean. It was a big thing a couple of months ago. And I know to a certain degree he can’t help how much he makes, but he could totally at least look for a better job, and he’s chosen not to, which is cool, but not my fault, you know? And he’s terrible about spending – if there’s no food in the house, he goes and gets a pizza, whereas I will run to the store and spend the same amount on food that will last me the week at school. I can see both sides, I guess, but when one person’s spending habits are so different from the other’s, it’s hard to compare, and it gets really nitpicky.

    • katie July 1, 2013, 8:40 pm

      yea, i mean really, fair means 50/50. like the literal definition would imply an even, 50/50 split.

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      • Liquid Luck July 2, 2013, 10:50 am

        That’s not true. EQUAL would be 50-50, but it wouldn’t always be fair. If both partners chose to live within the means of the lower earner, then 50-50 would be both fair and equal. If the higher earner insisted at living at a level closer to his/her means and still insisted on splitting things 50-50, it would be equal, but not fair.

        Equal =/= Fair

  • Miss MJ July 1, 2013, 3:59 pm

    For us, it’s been an evolution, although we’ve always been fairly even income-wise. When Mr. MJ and I moved in together – prior to getting married – we had the whole everything-is-split-50/50 thing going: bills, rent, groceries, etc. And that was a giant pain in the ass to keep up with. So, we ended up where we split rent 50/50 and then he paid bills and I paid groceries and it basically evened out. He still paid for most of our dates (not all), though, because that’s just the way it was. After we got married, but were still working at different jobs, we converted the wedding account I had gotten to save and pay for our wedding into a joint account, so we did equal percentage in the joint account for joint expenses and dates, and the rest for ourselves and our separate bills. Once we started our own business, we do everything out of the same pot – all bills, student loans, etc., but we each get “separate” money for our own expenses and wants – clothes, hair, gadgets, etc.

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  • Tzee July 1, 2013, 4:02 pm

    My husband and I make about the same amount. When it comes to gifts we split mother’s day gifts and discuss the splits for Christmas gifts. Normally we got to weddings where we both know the bride/groom. But if we did go to one of his friends/family (that i didn’t know) , he would buy the gift and vice versa. I went to two weddings this year , one was for my husbands co-worker and the other was for one of my college friends. We split the gift both times, since we both are friends with the bride and groom.
    Weddings can cost a lot if you are attending one out of town and/or a bridesmaid. The OP should have considered the cost, if not only for her budget. I wouldn’t expect my husband, much less a boyfriend to pay his way to an out of town wedding or pitch in on the gift. It shouldn’t matter if he made 10 dollars an hour or 100 bucks an hour.

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  • rawkmys0cks July 1, 2013, 4:03 pm

    I’m a serious lurker but this conversation has made me really want to chime in, mostly because my boyfriend and I seem to do finances differently from most of the other readers. (Also hi! I’m the one who knows Kerrycontrary IRL and creepily realized it on this forum a couple months back when she told a story about me).

    For reference, we’ve been together for a year and a half, and living together for a year. I would definitely say that our approach is a team approach, with both finances and chores.

    We have an extremely complicated spreadsheet (because my bf loves really complicated spreadsheets) on google docs, so we both have access to whatever. We split things based on a percentage of our income, but we do that at various levels. So, fixed expenses come out first, rent utilities, and minimum debt (I have student loans, he doesn’t, so we factor this in) and that is split based on a percentage of our take home pay. Then we have variable expenses like groceries and date night (which we also have a joint account for); I end up paying a smaller percentage of this because my student loans take up a lot of my income and I have less money after fixed expenses are taken into account, he is incomplete agreement that this is fair. Then, we’ve got savings and extra debt repayments; we basically decide together where the rest of our money goes. We have three joint savings accounts, one for moving, one for vacations, and one for mandatory holiday trips for our families since we go together. We also split this based upon our leftover income after fixed expenses and variable expenses. We decide together about debt payments and other personal savings account (of which I have like two or three, and he has many) because we just like the transparency. All the rest of our money is free-spending, but we usually spend that together or like, buy each other things as surprises. If I run out of money, or he does, then we each have no problem picking up the slack and do that for each other regularly.

    Yeah, that’s really long and complicated, by TLDR is that we basically split by income levels (right now its 60/40 where he’s paying more, but we changed it to where I was paying more when he was unemployed earlier this year). The way we devised this was just by talking about what kind of lifestyle we both wanted, and we both agreed that we didn’t want my lesser income + student loans to put a damper on the lifestyle that we envisioned for living together.

    Also, chores are entirely separate and mostly based on the amount of free time we have, and what things we hate doing the least. I love cooking and so I do it exclusively 100% of the time, along with grocery shopping. He does the dishes (of which there are MANY). I do most of the vacuuming and surface cleanup. He tidies. We send our laundry out because we both hate it. When he was unemployed he naturally did more than I did because he was home more, but he also picked up the slack when I was studying for the LSAT. I pick up the slack when he’s directing a show. I don’t think we’ve ever had a fight about chores. It works for us!

    I think it’s definitely a level of commitment thing. It really depends on how you operate together. I think someone said upthread that it’s not like if he drops dead that you’re entitled to any money, and in my case, I’m the beneficiary on my dude’s life insurance πŸ˜› My point is, I think it’s safe to say that we’re outside the norm of most non-married couples, but I wanted to add another perspective anyway!

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    • katie July 1, 2013, 8:44 pm

      i actually really like this- fixed expenses vs. variable, split 50/50 and then based on percentage. (if i read that right, haha). it reminds me of my profit and loss sheets in college, and wow was i not very good at those.

      so good job. and im also my boyfriends beneficiary! haha

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      • rawkmys0cks July 2, 2013, 12:29 am

        You got it! He recently started making a bit more money, so our fixed expenses are more like 55/45 right now, and all else (variable, and savings) is like 60/40, but whenever our income changes the figures change. Then every couple months we do a “state of the union” and pick apart our finances and make sure our goals are still the same or whatevs, savings and all the rest. I know it sounds complicated but once we get auto-payments and auto-transfers setup it’s super easy and we don’t even have to think about it most of the time.

    • Addie Pray July 2, 2013, 6:23 am

      wow that is amazing. i love a good spreadsheet and attention to details. and this is wonderful.

      i came up with an awesome formula for splitting bills – it works GREAT when you have a ton of people who only want to pay for what they ordered. i basically figure out who ordered the least and assign them a total bill of X. then i figure out what each person ordered beyond X. like “oh, you got X plus 15 bucks because of the two glasses of wine more than Joe,” or whatever. … then I figure out what the total bill (plus tax/tip) should be and I add it all together: $250 (total bill) = (X = Joe) + (X + 15 = Al) + (X + 20 = Bob), etc. Then I solve for X …and go back and tell everyone what they owe. … It’s so easy and takes literally 2 minutes. … BUT people HATE it. They get all nervous by how technical it is; even though it’s brilliant and error-free.

      Point of all of this is: I love the complexity of your spreadsheets, ha. It makes me want to create for myself. Instead, I just pay my bills, pay my food, pay my stuff, and put the rest in savings without much of a “plan” at all. Life is more fun with order and spreadsheets! I’m not being sarcastic.

      but: be careful re: the student loans fixed expenses. if one pays more in ANYTHING else b/c the other is paying down his or her student loans, and if you break up, … well that would suck for the other. who basically covered the debtor’s butt while he or she paid down the loan; that’s a benefit that i’d demand reimbursement for upon a break up! …

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      • katie July 2, 2013, 9:09 am

        why would you need reimbursement if your partner was paying down student debt?

        i ask because i do this- jake is paying his student loans and i do pay more of our bills, but thats ok. if we did ever break up, i know that i agreed to this, first off, and secondly, i mean i helped him out while we were together- i wouldnt be mad about that, i guess.

        i mean isnt that like demanding repayment of all the gifts ever given, or demanding repayment for all the hours you cooked/cleaned or whatever? like, ok, well we are broken up, and i walked your dog x times during my lunch break, so i will need that x amount of money repaid- thats kind of crazy, no?

      • Lindsay July 2, 2013, 9:23 am

        I agree with you, Katie. I think that if somebody IS going to ask for a reimbursement, then they also need to make it clear upfront that they’re going to. Because essentially that means you’re just loaning them the money with the condition that if you stay together, it’s forgiven?

        I also think it would raise a lot of questions, like what if the breakup is because the lender does something shitty? So, then they cheat on you and then ask for a pile of money back. Or what if the breakup is like 10 years later?

      • lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 9:38 am

        I remember your thread about how you and Jake do your finances, and I admit it was scary to me. If you guys split, he’s potentially walking away with all his money, and all his debt wiped out thanks to you. And you are walking away with…nothing. In the end, he’s in good shape because of you, and you aren’t. Then I think about what if he did something really messed up that caused the break up, and I feel like it would really suck for you, but hey, good for you for thinking you will never resent him for that.
        I don’t see a loan repayment as a gift, but I definitely could see how you could.

      • rawkmys0cks July 2, 2013, 10:18 am

        As long as she isn’t sacrificing too much of her money in order to help him and has savings and a buffer, then she’ll still walk away fine. In our case, since moving in together my boyfriend has saved a lot of money on expenses even after he pays more of the share, so he is more able to pay his credit card debt (in our complicated spreadsheet we offset his minimum payments and my minimum payments, where his are like $100, and mine are $500, so it comes out as a $400 differential in our incomes, roughly). We really feel like its a win/win situation.

      • rawkmys0cks July 2, 2013, 10:13 am

        That’s awesome that you’re doing that in my opinion. I know it’s risky like if a breakup were to occur, but if it doesn’t, then you’re putting both of you in a better position for the future. This is largely the reason why my bf has agreed to take my student loans into account in our calculations. Not only that, but it gives me some breathing room and allows me to be less stressed out about money all the time, which makes both of us happier πŸ˜›

      • Addie Pray July 2, 2013, 11:05 am

        paying down someone’s student loans isn’t the same as splitting bills/food/rent – stuff you both need/want. it’s money he was given – that he didn’t split with you; so why should you be responsible for paying it off? in the end, he lives rent free essentially. for example, in the spirit of splitting 50-50, he pays $1000 a month to his loans and you pay the $1000 in rent. not fair; he’s paying $1000 toward a loan balance that you did not benefit from; you never got the loan $, etc. If you’re splitting bills, he should pay $1000 to his loans and $500 to rent. If because of that he can’t afford to go out so you must pay all the meals, etc., then he’s not living within his means.

        … I mean, this is all if you want to be “equal” about things. And of course if you stay together forever, it’s all a wash.

      • lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 11:07 am


      • theattack July 2, 2013, 9:23 am

        I will never understand why people don’t just ask for separate checks and pay for their own stuff.

      • GatorGirl July 2, 2013, 9:37 am


      • Addie Pray July 2, 2013, 11:00 am

        because most restaurants i know won’t let you.

      • theattack July 2, 2013, 11:13 am

        What? Seriously? What restaurants are you going to?

      • Addie Pray July 2, 2013, 11:16 am

        the ones that don’t split checks, apparently. haha.

      • GatorGirl July 2, 2013, 11:16 am

        Yeah, I’ve never heard of it either. I’ve definitely been places that frowned upon splitting, but they would do it. (Even say high end places in Philly and Raleigh.)

      • theattack July 2, 2013, 11:20 am

        Glad I’m not the only one. I can understand a restaurant not wanting to give twenty people different checks (I guess…), but most of the time people are in groups of five or six-ish, right? That shouldn’t be a huge deal.

      • rachel July 2, 2013, 11:07 am

        My grad school friends and I were champs about writing a long list of credit cards and totals on the back of a check. Most places will only split a check a certain number of times – if you have a large group they won’t do it.

      • rawkmys0cks July 2, 2013, 10:08 am

        Hah thanks. My dude is the one who loves spreadsheets and “dashboards” for financials. I think we do it this way so he has an excuse to use formulas or something πŸ˜‰

        I know what you mean about the student loans, but we’ve made sure that we’re both paying down debt and taking care of each other. I don’t know, I guess we’re so entangled at this point that if a break up does happen, I can’t see how we could even successfully sue each other if it REALLY came down to the worst case scenario. Also, I’m not even paying down my debt at this point, I’m just paying the interest because I’m an idiot who took out private loans when I was 18 and wanted to go to my dream college (which was great, but oy). In any case, now I want to go to law school and take on more debt, woo! Sorry for the tangent πŸ™‚

    • kerrycontrary July 2, 2013, 9:36 am

      Just popping in to say hi! Glad you still read DW, and sorry again for telling that story on DW, I never imagined so many people I knew would read the site (ok, like two, but still).

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      • rawkmys0cks July 2, 2013, 10:03 am

        Hey there! No need to apologize, it was relevant to the situation at hand πŸ™‚ It’s just so weird to remember now, what a weird situation. haha

  • kwyjiboincognito July 1, 2013, 4:09 pm

    I suppose I just assumed my married finances would be just like my parents’. My dad worked and my mom stayed home, so there was never “mine, yours, and ours” it was just “ours.” In fact, my dad still asks my mom for money! My fiance’s parents were the similar, so he has the same attitude about married finances. I will make significantly less (like 25% to 50% of what he makes) for the first 10 years we’re together, but after that, we will switch and I’ll probably make more for the rest of our lives. No matter who makes more, it’s just “ours” because I think that’s what we’re choosing when we get married – to tie our lives and our fortunes to one another. We don’t have any confounding factors, though (family money, trust funds, children from previous relationships, etc). He’s risking a little more because he has to wait 10 more years for us to switch =) In the end, I think the most important thing is that a couple has similar attitudes toward money, which is better to find out now than later.

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  • ChemE July 1, 2013, 4:16 pm

    For my husband and I it’s pretty simple. All the money goes together and bills get paid out of it. It’s been that way since we moved in together.
    At first he made all the money but now I make more than he does. We’ve never discussed who pays what based on income because it’s all the same. My money is his and his is mine.
    Now, since we moved and had to get a new bank things are a little more “split” in that my check goes into one account and his goes into another. So I’ve had to split bills between them, like “my” account pays the house, student loans, insurance; and “his” pays for utilities, credit cards and car payment. It’s still not separate because we both spend as we like from both.
    And since he’s traveling every week (gone Mon – Fri) the house stuff has changed. I used to have a partner, but now it’s all on me. We’re working on how to adjust for that (and find a new cleaning service in OK) but as far as bills and incomes, nothing has changed.
    As far as weddings, we don’t have many friends, so don’t get invited to too many, but as with everything, it’s paid from our money, so no one is really paying for it separately.
    Now, we kept things separate before we lived together (even after we were married) since we didn’t share a space or have many shared bills. I didn’t have much of a job but would take care of the cell phone bill since he’d forget to pay it. Which is why I handle all the bill paying, he’d forget and pay late.
    Maybe we’re weird, but it works for us. Or it works for me and I haven’t heard him complain πŸ™‚

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  • Boosker July 1, 2013, 4:26 pm

    This is super interesting. I think there’s a big difference between living together and being married. Living together seems like more autonomy is maintained whereas in marriage that autonomy is optional. For my husband and me, we just share a bank account and leave it at that. I would NOT feel comfortable doing that if we weren’t married. He makes twice what I do, but I made more than him the first few years of our marriage. We divide up household chores based on who’s home more and is less stressed. I took over a lot of the housework when he got a new, very stressful job. I honestly don’t know how I’d split the finances in your situation. Living together can be such a gray area financially. There are so many different options. I definitely don’t think it’s cool to be doing almost all the housework when you are splitting everything else 50/50. But you have to verbalize that it’s uncool.

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  • Sara July 1, 2013, 9:44 pm

    This is tough. I completely agree that it is HIS money, and HE gets to decide how to spend it. And it is HER time and SHE gets to decide how to spend it. On the other hand, I really hate it when “women’s work” like cleaning, cooking, and care-giving is not seen as a financial contribution to the family. Like, how much would it cost for him to hire a cleaning service to do his 50% of the housework, so that she feels her time can be spent else where? They both need to value time along with valuing money and nice things.

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  • lets_be_honest July 2, 2013, 4:51 pm

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  • S July 3, 2013, 11:59 pm

    I think that if you’re living together with your significant other, then regardless of if your bank accounts are combined or separate, each of your own money is really in a way both of your money. Either this means you need to have a distinct set of rules for who pays for what (and have a conversation any time your income or expenses change dramatically), or just have a sense of being a team and both contributing what you each think is fair.

    to the LW, I think your boyfriend is being a big jerk. Me and my boyfriend moved a distance for a (great!) new job I had, and it took him a while to get his own job. I just paid for everything, because I had a job. When his bank account was getting low (since he would buy gas, food, et c. as he was out running some errands, keeping busy, looking for a job, et c. when I wasn’t around), I wrote him a check to replenish his checking account a bit. When he needed some new clothes, we went shopping and I paid for his new clothes. When we went to his friend’s wedding (who I had only met once before), I paid for our transit and the wedding gift. While we haven’t combined our finances, to act like we’re two single people instead of a couple living together and building a life together would be so foolish. (When he got a job, we went back to mostly just doing our own things with our finances and splitting expenses somewhat randomly)

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  • Clementine July 9, 2013, 4:14 pm

    This is so interesting! In the end, you do what works for you.

    My husband and I split everything based on income percentages. He makes more than me, so we’re working with a 60/40 split right now. We have one joint checking account where all the bill and debt-paying money goes every month. I put in my portion, and he takes care of making sure everything gets paid. Whatever is left over is ours to spend as we please. Because I have two children from a previous marriage, a lot of the remainder goes to them. I can spend my money the way I see fit with no blowback about why I needed that belt or whether my son really needed new shoes. He can spend his the way he likes–buy a $300 tool–and that’s totally his call. It’s a great system for us.

    Chores have nothing to do with money in our relationship. They get done based on who likes (or hates) to do what, and who has more time at home. It works. I love to cook and save us money on groceries, so I do. I prefer him far away from the laundry, so I do it. He enjoys yard work, so he gets to do it.

    Trips and weddings: If he chooses to go with me, he contributes. If I elect to go alone, I pay. We see trips–even to weddings–as “us time” and an opportunity to be together away from the house/kids/jobs, enjoy each other, and ultimately to make an investment in our marriage. (Also, if I’m traveling to a wedding, I consider my presence and support to be a gift. I’m curmudgeonly like that.)

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  • Rachel @ Reality Chick July 29, 2013, 7:21 pm

    I know I’m really late to the party on this one, but what a great question – and another fab answer from Wendy.

    For my part we have a joint credit card that we split payments for evenly and that pays for everything we do together / need to buy for the house / places we go together / wedding presents etc.

    If we do stuff separately, we use our separate money.

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