Updates: “Half Broke Idea” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing today. After the jump, we hear from “Half Broke Idea” who was bothered that her boyfriend, who had agreed that they should contribute a percentage of their respective incomes toward rent, was suddenly changing his tune once he got a much better paying job. Keep reading to see whether they’ve resolved their issues regarding how to cover their living expenses.

Just thought I’d write to give you an update on how everything turned out. I definitely took your advice to heart, and also that of the commenters. One thing that stood out to me in the comments was that some people said they paid 50/50 in their own relationships, but then one or the other of them (if there was an income disparity) bought most of the food or paid for most of the entertainment. Another thing that kind of struck me was a few commenters who said it seemed unfair that he’d basically be contributing all of the rent and I’d be contributing very little. That got me thinking…

If we did the income split thing I thought we were planning on, I’d be contributing about 600/month and he’d be contributing 1500/month (for all our bills, rent and food). Since the apartment is $1250 a month, on its face it does seem like my boyfriend would be covering the whole apartment. But at the same time $600 IS half the rent (almost, and anyway he has the parking spot). So, with all of that in mind, I had another conversation with my boyfriend. I apologized for making assumptions when we should have discussed all of this in deeper detail before we moved in together, and he seemed mollified by that. Then I told him that I’d thought about it and I would be able to split the rent if he would also pay for the bills and a lot of the groceries.

The thing that’s funny is that it’s the exact same amount of money, but phrasing it that way seemed to make him feel SO much better. And honestly it makes me feel better too, because now I feel like the apartment is just as much mine as his. That was another thing the comments on my question really made me analyze, the downfalls of being a “kept woman” (or whatever), such as whether he’d hold it against me any time I wanted to change something in the apartment. Now I don’t have to worry about it because I’m paying my half of the rent.

In other news, my boyfriend hasn’t brought up a “job deadline” again, thank god. I think he realized that idea was awful and kind of insulting. Nonetheless, I have a job interview tomorrow, so wish me luck…

Thank you so much for your insightful advice, and also to all of the people who took the time to comment on my predicament. I know my boyfriend didn’t exactly shine in my letter, but the commenters helped me see it a bit from his perspective, too, and with this new plan I think we’ll be okay.

That’s great news! Glad you guys reached a resolution you’re both comfortable with. Best of luck to you!

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.


  1. lets_be_honest says:

    You lost me at “he has the parking spot.” MOA.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Kidding. Sounds like you actually thought out the plan, discussed it rationally and came to a fair agreement. Good for you.

      I’d still fight for that spot though. Very ungentlemanly.

      1. SweetPeaG says:

        I have to agree… only because I had an ex who was a DOUCHE. We lived in a bad BAD neighborhood. He always had nice cars (Mercedes, BMWs, etc.), so always said he could park in the driveway and I’d have to fight for a spot on our very busy street… often making it so I had to walk a bit of a distance in our BAD neighborhood (we lived next door to a pimp/prostitute pair and across the street from a crack house). It always hurt my feelings and seemed ungentlemanly.

        My current fiance offered up the prime spot without me even ever mentioning it.

        That being said… this situation is probably totally different. I am glad the LW seems more at peace with their situation. Good luck to them 🙂

      2. ele4phant says:

        Maybe she doesn’t have a car? Otherwise, he should at least allow her to park there once in a while.

      3. Maybe they live in the city and she doesn’t have/need a car??

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        I guess, but I don’t know why she would’ve mentioned it unless she too had a car.

      5. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        No, they live in LA. She NEEDS a car. At any rate, to me, the parking space thing is beyond trivial. He IS paying so much more, he is entitled to it. Seriously.

      6. ele4phant says:

        Ah right, LA. I could not imagine living in a city that doesn’t have decent transit or is walkable/drivable. I hate driving.

        I don’t know how you do it (I guess you don’t have a choice).

      7. Avatar photo BriarRose says:

        Ah, the one thing I don’t miss about living in CA. I lived up in Santa Clarita and worked in N. Hollywood. That commute made me want to poke my eyes out. Oh, and then some days after work, I would go to visit my then-fiance at USC. Talk about a ridiculous drive.

      8. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        That was largely self inflicted though… Just live in NoHo.

      9. BriarRose says:

        True, although I was a poor college student, and still living w/ the parents up in SCV. No money for N. Hollywood rents!

      10. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Ah, got it.

  2. Avatar photo MaterialsGirl says:

    Most excellent update, dear. Glad things are feeling more resolute! Sounds like you had a very mature response to this and it worked out for the best. Go get ’em at that interview!

  3. I don’t know. It’s great that you’re happier now, but it seemed to me like you had to “fool” him into accepting those terms (the ones he had accepted in the first place, I know). You’re sticking to the percentage split, and when you phrased it differently, he suddenly liked the idea. It sounds kinda like telling a kid that the medicine is actually candy, so they’ll take it.
    I don’t mean to be insulting or anything, but I just don’t think this is the best resolution ever.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      That’s a good point. But, if I could make it through life believing medicine is candy, I think I’d make a happy spouse. Maybe LW’s boyfriend will be like that.

      1. There’s bacon-flavoured everything, why not candy-flavoured medicine?!

      2. I would like candy-flavored benzos. 😉

    2. ele4phant says:

      Sorry, I don’t get how he was “fooled”. He’s aware of how much money he’s putting in, and how much she’s putting in. “Fooling” him would have been obscuring the cost somehow. She just rephrased it, there’s no deception here.

      1. Yeah, my wording was off.

        Here’s the thing; the facts didn’t change. He only started liking the idea of the percentage split when things where explained to him differently. It reminded me too much of a situation in which a kid doesn’t want to, I don’t know, go to the doctor, so his mom tells him it’s not really the doctor, it’s this evil wizard he must defeat by being nice and not crying and getting a vaccine, so the kid gets excited and goes to the doctor and gets his shots and everyone’s happy.

        Yes, he knew exactly how much he’d be putting in, but he knew that already and he didn’t like it.

        And yes, it sounds like I’m comparing the LW’s boyfriend to a little child. I’m not trying to say he’s an immature little boy, I’m just saying the two situations (to me, at least) are similar.

        In any case, he’s happy and she’s happy, so what I think doesn’t really matter.

      2. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Or maybe she simply explained herself better. The original letter was vague at times…

      3. ele4phant says:

        Yeah, I still don’t get it. Unlike a child who needs to be coerced into going to the doctor by being told a fanciful story, he’s a grown-up, capable of understanding figures and who’s paying how much and for what.

        Its not like the LW told him there was a magical money fairy that he could make happy if he played nice and paid an additional $825 a month; it sounds like they had a grown-up conversation about the financial constraints she was under and how they could deal with that in a way that made everybody happy.

      4. You don’t have to see it, it was my impression.

    3. I agree; I suspect that down the road he may see that he is still contributing a very large portion of living expenses in comparison. He really didn’t seem okay with being the “breadwinner” here. I am thinking something doesn’t sound right, especially since I it does not seem to serve her own interests to be living in such an expensive apartment until she finds a new job.

  4. I’m not trying to be rude in any way but I’m confused about your budget. If your rent is $1250 and he pays half ($625), the remainder that he pays for food and bills is $875 ($1500 total for him). That’s seems really high. Do you guys eat out every day? Does that number include car and insurance payments? I don’t see how your grocery and electric bill could add up to $875 a month. Does this number include gas every week for 2 cars? I think you could probably find a way to budget lower than $825 for food and utilities.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Its gotta include all of their expenses. Cars, phones, food, cable. It seems like she’s paying half the rent and he’s paying half too, and ALL of their bills.

      1. I guess that makes sense. My SO and I have a similar arrangement where I pay all the food/utilities but it’s not that high and we live in an expensive city.

    2. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

      $825 for food and utilities? The problem here is very obvious… They simply need to STOP shopping at Whole Foods! 😉

      1. parton_doll says:


      2. And start using coupons!!

      3. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Hah. Hilarious, Lili.

        Yeah, I despise Whole Foods. It’s such a freaking rip off. I once inadvertently paid $27.58 for just under two pounds of… Bing Cherries.

        Now, admittedly, it was off season. But it was absurd. I grabbed them without looking at the price and then when I got up to the register the Hot Little Check Out boy was like, did you realize that these and 13.99 a pound? Trying to look cool, I just shrugged it off. Which WAS stupid, but he way wayyyyyy fine and there vast line of snots behind me… At any rate, yeah, I am just NOT a fan of Whole Paycheck. The craziest thing is this wasn’t even recent when everything is suddenly sky high — but nearly a decade ago…

      4. Thats insane about the cherries! I can’t remember the last time I shopped whole foods, but I am a fan of their salad buffet. But again, expect to pay double what you intended for that lunch. If we had any Sweet Tomatoes or all you can eats, I’d totally get a better deal there, but since we don’t Whole Foods is where its at. Oh and their bakery. But only when someone else was buying 😉

    3. Assuming the remaining money accounts for all of the expenses, I still think it’s a little messed up if he’s paying for her personal bills like car insurance and gas. They’re not married and I think that only leads to resentment down the line.

      1. I’m assuming she would pay for her personal expenses with the other half of her income. But I’m not sure how utilities on a condo could be that much, even in a city.

  5. evanscr05 says:

    I’m glad you guys settled on something that works for both of you. Honestly, it matters not whether other people think one way or another is more fair – what’s fair is what works for you and your boyfriend since you guys are the ones being affected. Let this be a lesson to you to make sure you both keep your lines of communication WIDE open when it comes to finances and that you make sure to keep the conversation going, as this is never a set it and forget it discussion. Once you get through the natural growing pains of sharing a space, and your money!, with your SO, and you establish a rhythm in how you communicate about it, you guys will be just fine.

  6. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    LW – Good job on communicating and reaching an agreement. It doesn’t really matter if I or the other commenters don’t think it’s fair or wouldn’t feel comfortable or whatnot. All that matters is the two of you are happy and in agreement. Agreemance. Whatever that word is.

    Is today Thursday or Friday, does anyone know? I am not sure how to find out.

    1. All I know is I want more baked brie. It was DELISH. Today i may top it with some pepper jelly before I bake it.

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        For the love of cheese, do not top it with pepper jelly. That’s like pooping on your chik-fil-a. You’d ruin God’s artwork.

        Why, why would you do that?


      2. its so good!!

        i like it, lili. you do your pepper jelly thing!

        i also like pepper jelly with cream cheese on crackers. yum.

      3. What the F is pepper jelly?!? Sounds awful!!

      4. its jelly, like canned jelly, made out of spicey peppers. so its not really sweet, its spicey, but it looks just like jelly. if you like spicey food im sure you would love it.

      5. There is the AMAZING little stall that sells all varities of pepper jelly here at the market, oh and Trader Joes sells one too.

        I LOVE it with cream cheese too Katie!

      6. i wish i had “little stalls” where i lived…. that just sounds so cool!

      7. Pike Place Market rocks! If you ever visit Seattle I’d love to take you through it 🙂

      8. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Highlight of my long ago trip to Seattle for a June wedding? That we stayed right near Pike’s AND it was CHERRY SEASON!!!

      9. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Can we go there when I come to Seattle?

      10. your totally on! haha

      11. YES to Addie and Katie!!! Oh and Addie, I’m gonna make you try ALL the flavors of pepper jelly, seriously the sampling there is amazing.

      12. Avatar photo theattack says:

        BGM, for a gay man, you sure love cherries today

      13. I love hot peppers… But I just cook them into my food. The whole jelly thing creeps me out.

      14. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        It really is amazing on cream cheese. Not sure I would put it on brie though. Then again, it might be amazing.

        Addie: By the Iberico cheese from Trader Joes. And put honey on it. Just a dab on the top of a slice on a cracker… Trust me, it’s heaven!

      15. i LOVE honey and cheese!! once, i got a cheese plate at this fancy restaurant in las vegas for my first course, and i had to ask for the honey… i was mad about that. what kind of nice restaurant doesnt give you honey with your manchego?? lol.

        ahhh so much food talk today. and we made some amazing versions of cookies today, so lots of cookies and cheese talk. today is awesome.

      16. How is the new job going?

      17. oh, and quince paste!! does anyone else here eat that with cheese? becuase that stuff is amazing too!

      18. freaking amazing, JK. i love it so much!! i seriously make cookies for a living. i mean, could it get any better? AND, were taking monday next week and going to the national restaurant show. yep, i love it.

      19. Awesome, katie. 🙂
        If you ever need international taste testers you know where to look.

      20. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        katie, i’m here to sample too!

      21. Now I’m jealous. Addie is actually close enough for that to possibly happen.

      22. Avatar photo dandywarhol says:

        Omg i love honey and cheese too!! At first it sounde weird, but man with the right cheese, its delish!

      23. im sure you would like it if you tried it. i think your thinking in your head a weird mash of sweet fruit jelly your used to, and then hot peppers, which it isnt…. its just like a hot and spicey and savory spread of sorts. if you get the chance to try some, it might surprise you! lol

      24. The baked brie with pepper jelly was DELICIOUS! I could have let the cheese melt a little more, but it was such a nice gooey texture out of the oven that I couldn’t wait another second. I paired it with some Pomegranate pepper jelly, so it was a bit of a sweet/hot mix, but oh so good. Next time I wanna try getting the Merlot flavored jelly and doing both cream cheese and baked brie. OH Addie, you’ve made me into a cheese fan like yourself. I really am a AP clone 😉

    2. AP today is Thursday. I know this because I had to ask due to the part time coworkers at my office changing up their schedules this week. I thought yesterday was Thursday, sadly today is not Friday. Did you get more cheese?

      Also I completely agree with you. Whatever works for them is great. It might not be what you or choose but it doesn’t matter because we’re not a part of their relationship. I’m glad that their agreemance worked out well too.

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Thank you, jlyfsh/amber. That’s good news because otherwise I missed my 9 am interview. It’s on Friday. I still have time to miss it.

      2. good luck!

        also i had chick fil a for dinner and thought of you. i haven’t had it since december but two people in my office had breakfast from there this morning and i had to have it.

      3. Not to mention the creepy religious “getaways” the managers go to…

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        I’ve heard the same about Forever 21.

      5. Trooth. I won’t eat there and was dismayed when their franchises started to migrate into IL.

      6. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Yes, I know. The company is terrible. I try to turn a blind eye so I can enjoy their chicken … I’m not proud of myself.

  7. i think i was in your boyfriend spot. me and my boyfriend split our expenses up equally, but, for instance, i paid all the rent. but, i didnt pay for car insurance. does that make sense? so we were paying the same amount of money, but on different things. i was really resentful for a while because i was paying all the rent! and he had to explain it to me as well. im glad that you were able to explain it to him in a way that made sense to him. maybe thats really all it was- it didnt make sense to him the first time.

    anyway, glad it worked out!

  8. Guy Friday says:

    I’m not trying to be rude when I say this, but does it bother anyone else that these update letters are coming so ridiculously soon after the original columns? I don’t mean that as a critique of Wendy, but of the LWs. I mean, this reply is posted about a week after the original column (nine days, to be exact), and I could have sworn I’d seen some that came in even sooner. Wendy, do you reply to them and then post the column, so they get the response sooner than we see the letter in the first place? I thought I remembered you mentioning that the replies are the columns, and that you don’t respond individually to letters.

    I suppose if it was really so simple that it could be solved that quickly, that’s great, but when we’re talking about pretty fundamental relationship issues like the splitting of expenses and finances in general, it kind of makes me wonder if the LW just got the first answer she could from her boyfriend and then went “Yay! Problem solved!” without waiting to see if, you know, it actually worked out or not. Because while I’m not saying that 50/50 was the answer here, a division of costs where he’s contributing more than twice as much as her may well cause some resentment and grumbling long-term, regardless of whether it’s fair or not to feel that way, and ESPECIALLY since at this point there doesn’t seem to have been any resolution as to the “how long is this going to go on for” part of the equation. Hell, even though I do my best to balance it out as much as possible and it’s not as extreme a split, my now-wife has consistently paid a good chunk more than me to cover our basic monthly expenses for the entire time we’ve been living together, and there are times when she’s openly annoyed about it with me (which I refuse to blame her for, because, come on, it does suck a little to have that happen.) And the ONLY reason she accepts it is because, when we agreed to this, she and I also mapped out how I plan to balance things out more tangibly now and in the future, be it by getting a better job or by utilizing the flexibility of my job to take on more house-and-child-care matters.

    I wonder if we’re going to get an “update to the update” letter in the future . . .

    1. I’ve been wondering the same thing recently. Sure there are problems that can be easily fixed, but I think many of the LWs think they are solved and everything is a-okay before it really is fixed. I love hearing the updates but I think many problems take a little bit more time than the LWs are really allowing themselves.

    2. Avatar photo sobriquet says:

      YES. Write back when you’ve lived together for a few months. Everyone’s happy when you’re just talking about how to divvy up the money. Now try actually doing it and see how everyone feels. As I mentioned below, buying the groceries for an entire household can breed a lot of resentment.

    3. I wound not assume that Wendy is answering and posting all letters just days after she gets them. Some updates seemed to indicate that a month or two have passed sine the initial kerfuffle, I doubt that all letter posting and updating is in fact in real time.

    4. LW’s see my advice the same time all of you do. Sometimes I get an update, like, the next day. No joke. Sometimes it’s many months later (those are my favorite). Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, I don’t answer a letter until a few weeks after I received it. When that happens, I’ll sometimes get an update from the LW saying that the problem was already solved, this is how it was solved, and my advice and the comments helped validate certain decisions that were made.

  9. Ditto. I, too, wondered how any of these things could be worked out so quickly. Change and results take time.

  10. Avatar photo sobriquet says:

    Ehhh, just be wary that your new solution could cause a lot more problems than either of you think. Buying all the groceries for a two person household can be very overwhelming and expensive. I did that when I first moved in with my boyfriend and it didn’t last very long. You’d be surprised by how fast you go through things like paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergent, cat food, beer, etc. My boyfriend would make a list for me before I went to the store and I mentally would freak out about it, thinking ‘Does he REALLY need that?’ or ‘HOW ARE WE ALREADY OUT OF DISH DETERGENT??’ I would get mad when paper towels were used frivolously. I got SO ANAL about everything! It seemed like the moment I got done blowing $150 at the store, I had to turn around and do it again.

    We ultimately decided to split the rent and groceries equally, and he takes care of the electricity and water bills. We probably split entertainment down the middle most of the time, occasionally treating one another. This method has worked for going on 2.5 years.

    [Edited to add that my boyfriend owns a fixer-upper, so the mortgage is only $800 a month. If it was $1,200, there’s no way I could split the rent AND groceries. If you live outside your means, you’re both going to be unhappy. It’s not like he OWNS the place, right? Find a cheaper place!]

  11. I’m glad you guys were able to come to an agreement. It sounds like you’re starting to work together like the team you are supposed to be! And good luck with your job interview!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Sue Jones says:

    It all changes when you have kids, anyway, especially if one of you is staying home/ taking time off/ paying for daycare, etc. Stereotypically the mom wants to stay home and the dad goes and earns ALL the money. In my case I had previously earned more money AND then I went part time. There were some lean years there, PLUS my husband was not used to being the main breadwinner. Best to have an open communication about money, because it evolves as both of your careers evolve, and add in parenthood, etc. Money is almost always an issue in every relationship so the easier it is to talk about it comfortably, the better off the relationship is.

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