When couples move in together, they struggle to navigate joint finances. Who should pay which bills? Should everything be split 50/50 or split bills proportionately to their incomes?
Users often come to Reddit wondering which half is right about their financial split. One woman went to the R/AITA community (a place where users decide if you’re a jerk or not!), wondering if she was wrong to say no to the new way her partner wanted to split finances.
The Original Split
The couple has lived together for a few years already. They live in a flat he owns outright, and she pays him 50% of fair market rent. They re-calculate the payment every year to account for market fluctuations.
“I live with my boyfriend in a flat he owns (fully paid off, his father gave it to him),” the Original Poster (OP) began.
“I pay my boyfriend half of the market rate rent, which we update every year by looking how much the flats are being rented out for in the building complex. Which is a lot of money, but I agreed to it. Other than this, we did everything else 50-50 in the past.”
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Boyfriend Eyes Her Raise
The boyfriend wanted to change the arrangement after she earned a significant raise at work.
“I got a new job with a significant pay increase, and now my boyfriend says we should start splitting expenses proportional to income because that’s fair,” continued OP.
She, however, disagreed.
“I told him I don’t think it’s fair that I should start paying for more just because I got a new job and nothing else changed. I already pay him rent – enough rent that would get me a same-sized flat a few streets away – so it’s more than fair to him.”
The issue turned into an argument. He claimed OP was ripping him off while she put her foot down, stating, “under no circumstances we will split expenses proportional to income.”
OP Wonders if She Was Wrong
Op’s best friend said she was in the wrong.
“My best friend told me that this is how they do it with her boyfriend too, and my boyfriend owning the flat is irrelevant,” she said, turning to Reddit for a final judgment.
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Proportional Income Works For Expenses
Most Reddit users came to OP’s defense, saying the boyfriend is taking advantage of her. When partners agree to pay for expenses proportional to their incomes, it’s to actually pay for expenses.
He doesn’t have a mortgage payment, so he’s not using her rent money for expenses. He’s pocketing it.
“I’d tell him you’re okay splitting expenses proportional to income, but rent isn’t an expense you guys have to pay, so you’ll no longer be paying him rent,” advised one user.
“Owning the flat IS relevant because he has no mortgage or rent to pay at all! You have been supporting him with 50% of an occupancy payment that he doesn’t have to do anything with other than to drop it into savings or use it as bill or play money,” said another.
Rent Money Counts as Income
Others pointed out that since he doesn’t have a mortgage payment, the rent she pays him should count as income.
“At the very least, include the rent in his income!!!” exclaimed one user.
“Yes, can’t believe that’s not added as income?” agreed another, adding, “And if with this included, he has more income, I would do the utilities according to income. And insist that since he wanted that when he thought he had less income, it should work the other way around too.”
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Boyfriend is a User
Many said that the boyfriend is taking advantage of her, profiting from her rent payments while trying to get even more.
“He’s accusing you of ripping him off because he is trying to rip you off,” said one user.
“So if OP is paying the bf rent every month and the bf isn’t paying rent, OP is already effectively paying for the bf’s living costs in addition to their own. What more does bf want? Is bf having major financial problems? It’s totally fair to split living costs but it sounds like bf wants to profit off OP living with him. Which is an a-h way to treat your partner,” replied another.
Should He Even Charge Rent?
Although most users agreed the proportional payment was ridiculous given the situation, many disagreed over whether he should charge rent in the first place.
Some argued that since they are partners and there is no mortgage, he shouldn’t ask her to pay.
“Ask him to give you a total breakdown of all of the living expenses,” advised one. “Offer to pay half of that and nothing more. Rent should not be included since he owns the place and pays nothing but insurance and taxes. And maintenance of course but maintenance is not a monthly expense.”
Others said a rent payment, in general, is fair, but raising it wasn’t.
“I don’t think it’s fair for your bf to increase the rent. However, I don’t get why so many comments say it’s incorrect for the bf to charge her rent. If she wasn’t staying with him, he would have space or a room to rent which would bring him income. If she doesn’t pay him rent, wouldn’t she be profiteering then? Freeloading off him, more income in her own pocket,” said one user.
“It’s fair that she pays rent, it’s not her place, doesn’t matter how the BF acquired it. If he isn’t going to see that a 50:50 split of expenses is fair, OP should consider getting a flat on her own,” replied another.
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What Do You Think?
In many cases, proportional income is fair. Partners should want to support each other and help each other enjoy a higher standard of living.
However, this case is different, because rent isn’t actually an expense. Although some of the payment may go to maintenance or taxes, most goes directly into the boyfriend’s pocket.
Do you think OP was right to say no, or do you think it’s only fair that she pay more rent because she makes more money?
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.