“I feel bad about taking most of his income from him”: I earn twice as much as my boyfriend. He pays me $300 in rent, but I want him to pay $800. Is it right?


Dear Quentin,

My boyfriend and I have been together for seven years, and during that time I bought a house. I used my own savings and spent about $10,000 on renovations. My house is a three bedroom family home and the tenants cover most of my mortgage. I still have other bills, two cars, insurance, utilities, cell phones, etc.

I have both cars in my name; my boyfriend works to pay for one. He pays the $300 car bill and insurance, and gives me $300 for “rent.”

I feel like he should pay me more, but he feels like he is helping enough and shouldn’t have to pay more because the tenants are covering the mortgage. I tried to explain to him that I have more expenses as a landlord than just a mortgage, but he doesn’t seem to understand.

“He’s terrible at saving money and constantly between jobs.”

We keep having the same argument that he’s “saving to buy a house”. However, it’s terrible at saving money and constantly between jobs (that’s its own problem). Although he is not good with money and finds it difficult to keep a job, he has always paid his half even if it is not much.

I think $800 a month is a good deal to get all his bills paid plus car and insurance; he disagrees and wants to continue paying only $300. I make at least double what my boyfriend makes, so it’s not like I need the money. I just think it’s fair that he pays his share.

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I feel bad about taking most of his income, but I feel like I can invest it better than him. What do you think is fair?

hard working girlfriend

Dear hard worker,

We could discuss what would happen if you were married or if the gender roles were reversed, but at the end of the day, you have the right to ask your boyfriend to pay fair rent or rent over $300. one month but still lower than the market rate. In many housing markets right now, $800 is a bargain.

Here’s the takeaway: you don’t have to justify why you’d want him to pay more than most people pay on an average cable bill ($217) and electric bill ($115 $) combined for the average US household, with an Amazon Prime AMZN,
or Netflix NFLX,
subscription launched.

“You don’t want to be a facilitator and foster a culture of job change and long periods between work commitments.”

Likewise, your boyfriend’s reluctance or inability to hold down a job shouldn’t be a factor in his choice not to live in the adult world. You’re not his mom, or a friend giving him a couch to sit on while he gets his finances in order. You are his partner. He should be ready to pay his share.

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I’m writing this assuming you took out the loan on two cars because your boyfriend’s credit score wasn’t good enough for him to take out his own car loan. He therefore reimburses a car that is technically in your name, but the car will be transferred to him once the final payment has been made.

Compare your respective income and expenses, and the market rent for your neighborhood. Of course, you can take into account that you share a room (and a house). I might suggest $500 if your other tenants are paying $800, but the only number you should settle on is whatever you’re comfortable with.

You want to be supportive, but you also don’t want to be a facilitator and foster a culture of job change and long periods between work commitments. If you didn’t offer him a house to live in at $300 a month, he would have to find his own way in the real world and become a more reliable and responsible employee.

The biggest issue is whether you two are right for each other. If he is now showing signs that he is leaning on you financially and making you feel guilty by accepting a token rent payment, it will only get worse as your relationship continues to develop. What’s right in the real world and in your boyfriend’s world can be two very different things.

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