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Ask Savvy: Should I Split the Mortgage With My Boyfriend Who Earns More?

Dear Savvy,

My boyfriend and I are looking to buy our first home together. He makes about $25,000 more than me per year and we both have similar expenses when it comes to our loans (I make about $56k and he makes about $81k). We're very realistic that relationships don't always work out in the end, but right now, we're very happy and believe we will get married and have children in the future.

Because I cannot afford as much of a monthly payment on a mortgage as he can, he has told me he wouldn't mind paying more than me. I told him that, realistically, the smart way to think about this is as a business transaction, and in the end, if we do split up, I will still get 50 percent of our house, but he will have paid more into it. He really appreciated my honesty on this point, but hadn't thought about it himself.

He then said he could pay the bills or food or something else to ensure I wasn't broke at the end of every month, if we did choose to buy a nicer house than we could if using only my salary. What's your opinion on this? Do you think we should split the mortgage payment in half no matter what? When you add our salaries together, we are doing pretty well, but I alone couldn't get my own mortgage. Please give me as much advice as you can before I buy my first home!

To see my answer,


Savvy says: It's awesome that you and your boyfriend communicate so well and that is certainly one big key to a lasting, successful relationship. You both understand that right now doesn't always translate into forever, and that's so important when making big decisions like buying a home together.

Whether you are splitting the mortgage down the middle and your boyfriend is paying more toward other bills, or he's paying more of the mortgage while the rest of the bills are split down the middle, your boyfriend is still paying more than you are in total. Either way you cut it, it's all about whether or not you are comfortable with him contributing more than you to your household expenses.

Your boyfriend seems totally content paying a larger share, and I know many couples who divide most of their bills including rent (in your case a mortgage payment) as a percentage of how much they each bring home. It's all about what makes you feel comfortable — the last thing you want is for money issues to come between you two.

Savvy gals, how would you handle this situation?


Join The Conversation
Ms_Magnificent1 Ms_Magnificent1 8 years
Hey hun!!! Personally...I don't think it is wise to invest on a house with a boyfriend. All I can think about is you two battling it out in court about who gets what if things don't work out!!! I have a friend who is about to buy a house with her boyfriend and everytime she talks about it, I ask "...where is the ring?". It really is deeper than just moving in and splitting a mortgage.
Jeny Jeny 8 years
My beau makes alot more money than me.. He's a real estate investor with properties all over Houston and Austin along with a restaurant here in Houston so if this ever came about, I seriously doubt he'd expect me to pay half. (at least I hope not lol)
356UIK 356UIK 8 years
I have no idea what I would do. I'd prob just live on my own until I was married. If you're determined to do it the other way around (buying a home together, then getting married) I wouldnt really worry about any of the minor details in the meantime, i.e. making it equal, etc. I will say this tho, I think weddings can be expensive, and so if both y'alls $$$ is tied up in paying the mortgage, it could delay y'alls marriage for quite some time...
facin8me facin8me 8 years
Why don't you get a lawyer and get something in writing saying that if you sell the house before you're married you will split the proceeds in whatever way is necessary? You pay 40% and he pays 60% (an approximate percentage of what you each contribute to the household). If the relationship goes south, you get 40% and he gets 60%. Of course, this assumes neither of you loses your jobs or gets a salary increase. But if you want to be fair, it's a good place to start.
syako syako 8 years
Coral - definitely doesn't sound old fashion to me. Sounds like you guys have great communication and are way ahead of the money/finance curve.
CoralAmber CoralAmber 8 years
My boyfriend and I are in a similar (but not the same) situation. He makes much, much more than me because he is further along in his career and his field just makes more. We want to live together and eventually get married, but we are waiting until things are financially viable. He is paying off his debt and will be buying a house he can afford *on his own*. When I move in, I will be paying my share of food and utilities, but not paying part of the mortgage. If we break up, he still has his house and will still be able to afford it by himself. I get to keep any money I would have paid for rent, and use it for a place of my own or whatever. Even if my financial situation improves I won't contribute more to the house itself until we are married. We've already agreed that any home improvement costs will be paid for and implemented by him. I will help out in other ways, mostly involving my free time to decorate, prep meals, and do other things I enjoy. If it's something we both dislike (like dishes) he'll buy the dishwasher and I'll get the soap. He keeps his equity and I still contribute to the household (saving us both money). It sounds almost old fashion, or like I'm a "kept" woman, but it makes the most financial sense to us. We are both keeping our financial independence, but contributing to a life together that we hope will be for the long haul.
Deidre Deidre 8 years
1) Regardless of if you wait til your married or not, have legal documents drawn up for your agreement. I personally wouldn't do this before I marry, but marriage isn't for everyone. All you can do is continue to treat this like a business transaction -- and that needs to involve a lawyer. 2) Whatever percentage you split the mortgage by, that should be the percentage you are entitled to in the case of a split. Not to mention the fact that you personally should not pay for 50% of a mortgage if you cannot afford it. You need to both pull out your finances and take a serious look at them together. On top of the mortgage payment, you can always factor in other expenses (groceries, utilities, furniture, entertainment) and who pays for what that way. But if you're keeping mortgage payments separate, don't offer to pay for more than you can afford on a regular basis.
brookberrys brookberrys 8 years
I personally would not buy a home with someone without a ring on my hand, but that's just my personal view. I had been dating my boyfriend for 3 years when I bought my home, by myself. I pay all the bills. Even though we plan to marry and have kids (we've been together for over 5 years now) if something were to happen all I'm losing is a boyfriend and everything else will be exactly the same. If you do decide to go in together, I would make sure that you have a plan (contract) written down and signed by both of you that spells out exactly what will happen to the house if you were to split. You should also consider if he were to, God forbid, die, what would you do? Could you afford this home on your own?
runningesq runningesq 8 years
I agree with Syako. If you purchase a house during the course of a marriage, it is MARITAL PROPERTY .. REGARDLESS OF WHO PURCHASED IT (if you are married, your pension and 401(k) are also marital property). So --- you buy a house with your b/f, you each put in 50/50, or 60/40, or 90/10... and then you split up. What happens? The court will not step in to protect either party. It may try to interpret what you did as a contract, but without a written document... good luck. If you are married, the court will split up the value of the house along with all other marital property.
sonya-ina sonya-ina 8 years
If both of you are comfortable buying a house together even though you're not married (or engaged), I'd say do it. Firstly, right now is a GREAT time to buy since the housing market is so low, so you'll likely get a great deal. On the other hand, getting a loan from a lender you are comfortable/safe with might be something to consider, and more difficult. Secondly, I've always been a huge advocate of buying over renting, so you definitely are making the right decision in my book. As far as who pays more, I'd definitely split the monthly mortgage payment in half, so the house is both of yours equally. However, since your boyfriend seems more than willing to pay more, I'd allow him to pay for more of the other monthly expenses (electric, water, groceries, etc.) Honestly, he may enjoy feeling like he's "taking care of you" even just a little bit. He seems like a good man, and you seem like a very reasonable person. Go for it :]
syako syako 8 years
And I don't believe I said that.
Renees3 Renees3 8 years
Of COURSE there's a huge legal difference in marriage and dating. What I was refering to was not the legal difference but the chances of staying together are NOT any better just because your married. Buying a house together is a HUGE deal and obviously a decent sign that they're commited to each other. I actually think buying a house together is just as big of a step as getting married. Also, marriage is not for everyone so it doesn't make sense that so many people are saying Don't buy a house until your married!! And for that matter many couples I know CAN'T get married now (due to prop 8)but still want to buy since the buying is so good. So I guess what I'm just trying to say is that Marriage doesn't need to be a precursor to buying a house.
syako syako 8 years
I find it interesting how people dismiss marriage because of high divorce rates as being the same as dating. :shrug: It is a government institution governed by laws. That's the difference. Plain and simple. If you're married and you want to split, you get divorced through a COURT. With that said, if you (or the poster or anyone) still feel OK about buying a home without a marriage, I'm not judging. I just wanted to make it clear that there is a huge LEGAL difference between marriage and dating.
chatoyante chatoyante 8 years
I can understand you wanting to pay 50/50 on the house; it's fair since you will be living in it just as much as he will. We pay rent 50/50 even though I make less than he does...our solution was to have him buy the groceries and me prepare the food. That way we are both contributing in ways that we can each afford.
Renees3 Renees3 8 years
I am in the same situation except I'm the one that makes a bit more. I've been with my boyfriend for 5 years and we're closing on our first house on Friday. Marriage is NOT the only way to buy a house. What makes people think that marriage will keep you together? Divorce rates are so high, you're just as likely to break up a marriage I feel like. I just want to point out that for our situation, we live in rather expensive california and just a couple years ago I never thought we'd be able to afford a home. With the economy and foreclosure rates we ARE able to now. Why WOULDN'T we take this opportunity? Because we're not married?? Married or not, we're signing a legal contract. We're going into this with open eyes and everything on the table. But as for your question, the way we do it is split all the housing bills (mortgage or rent, bills etc) 50/50. But I usually pay for more things during the month, extra groceries, movies and such. That works best for us. Also, it might be a good idea to have your realtor or an attorney write up something for you guys in the case that you Don't work out. Almost like a prenuptial agreement, this is what I get, this is what he gets etc. Just to be on the safe side. Good luck buying your first home! It's so exciting!!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
DONT DO IT!!! i know women who have bought a home with a boyfriend with the BEST intentions, and it didnt work out and it was horrible!
monkeyinabarrel monkeyinabarrel 8 years
i am currently doing this and am in the same situation. It is a business transaction and you should think of it as such. It is not a big deal business partners do this all the time. We split the mortgage 40 me - 60 him. We went to a lawyer and had a contract drawn up. If we do split up he will own 60% or the house and me 40%. It was simple and easy and only cost a few hundred bucks. When we do get married or circumstances change, the contract can be voided or amended.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
I don't relate either. My husband and I bought a home after we married. In fact, we didn't live together until we married.
simply-me simply-me 8 years
My advice (based on your question) would be to decide on a fair share for each. If you can't do a 50/50 split then do something like where he pays 60% and you pay 40%. If you go this route though, then I would get some legal documentation saying that if you ever split then he gets 60% and you get 40%. Now, I would caution you though to think about your options should you split. Who would be responsible for the mortgage? Whose name is the mortage going to be in? Whose name is the deed going to be in? Make sure you consider this wisely and regardless of how you choose to split the mortgage ratio, get some legal documentation backing it up.
laurelm laurelm 8 years
I think vunder's advice is best under the circumstances. But I wouldnt do it unless i was married.
vunder vunder 8 years
If you're not married, I would buy a house that you can afford together each paying 50% of the mortgage and split the household expenses evenly. Have your boyfriend set aside the extra money he would otherwise be spending on the mortgage in a safe place. If, in a few years, you decide to combine your assets, use that money to invest in a new home or remodel or other hard asset. If, in a few years, things don't work out, you'd still made an even, but cautious, investment.
katie225 katie225 8 years
i'm currently renting with my boyfriend and his brother. we decided on a ratio to pay. we pay 5/9 of the rent together and his brother pays 4/9 of the rent. i would suggest using some sort of fraction like that throughout the transaction until you get married so that the calculations are easier, and how much you get back if you break up will be the same. just remember it! BUT...if you pay 50% from the get-go, and he pays for other living expenses (food, bills, etc.) so that you don't go broke, and then if you break up you could end up making money if the value of the house went up. just sayin! and a legal agreement is a great idea! sort of like a pre-nup. don't worry about the not being married part. sounds like you've thought things through more than some people do before they walk down the aisle.
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