In Budgeting, Discussions, For Beginners, Money

Should you pay rent to your spouse when you get married?

This is such a controversial topic, it instantly divides people.

I am really stubborn and hardheaded so I clearly have my own strong opinions on this matter, which if you are a regular reader, should come to you as NO SURPRISE, means equality as you see fit.

“My fiancé and I live together. I own the house (it’s paid off) and he pays me $500 a month.

The bills for the house are very low and come out to about $300 a month, so essentially he’s paying $200 in rent.

He thinks that once we get married he shouldn’t have to pay rent anymore, and that we should split the bills evenly.

He’s also stressed because he has accrued some debt (about $15,000) since we’ve been together, which is partly why he thinks he should pay less.”

Some more background:

  • She also believes men should make more money and contribute more <— I definitely do not agree with this

What kind of BS is that, that you want equality in a relationship but then want the guy to make more and contribute more?

Pardon me, equality is simple — EQUAL. Not unequal.

I am not on board with her on that, for the record. I like true equality, and with it comes the good and the bad.

Moving on — I do not know the whole financial budget, situation, etc, only what I am reading, but so far this is what I am thinking:

Of COURSE he should pay something!

$500 a month that covers half of the utilities, and then $200 left, sounds like a great deal to me.

He didn’t contribute to the down payment, or the mortgage she cleared, and quite frankly, where are you going to find a place where you can pay $200 in rent and live?

He is paying basically, for the capital she invested in the home. If they get married and then he basically “pays her back” until it is 50%, THEN I completely agree with him being on the house deed as an equal half, and not paying an extra $200 in rent.


I am imagining myself in that situation, and let’s say I paid $300K for my home and cleared it myself.

Would I want someone to come along and basically take half of that?

Not having saved the money, worked for the equity, etc? NO.

I earned every dollar and I really don’t care what anyone says, I WILL feel resentment that someone just waltzes along and claims half.

I am certain I am not the only one, and you may be a saint if you worked like that and then decided to just let it all be taken.

Love doesn’t solve everything, and just because you are in love, doesn’t mean I am going to forgive everything and be dumb about it.

Maybe we don’t call it rent, but it is definitely “household”

I think it’s semantics. Stop calling it ‘rent’. This is household repayment, that goes towards earning your half of the house, and/or household maintenance and upkeep.

She isn’t “making money” off him as many commenters in that post were outraged by.

If she was profiting, she would have had him pay the whole house and taken half without contributing a dime!

Oh wait. That’s what HE IS DOING.

It isn’t profit until you make money. Her expenses were let’s say $300,000 for the house which she paid.

How is taking $200 a month towards what she paid, and using that money towards household maintenance, taxes, utilities.. considered “profiting”?

She isn’t making anything, frankly.

Most concerning to me is the $15K debt

During the time together, they mention that he racked up $15,000 of debt and is stressed, and doesn’t think he should give her that extra $200 a month for the home she paid for.

I also read something strange about how the bills weren’t equal (??) but I have no details on this and therefore cannot comment.

Bottom line to me – yes he should pay something relative to his income and it shouldn’t be a free ride especially if he is working full-time, and healthy … and bills SHOULD be split 50/50.

What I am most concerned about is money management, or the lack thereof.

$15,000 is a nice chunk of change.

Why? How? Was he paying MORE than he could afford? In which case, I am not on board with the situation, and will reconsider my $200 stance, but was it all just consumer debt for splashy vacations and dinners he couldn’t afford?

Whatever the case is, that debt being racked up is more concerning to me, if you are planning on getting married to someone.

How? Why? Where did it go? Is this going to be like this forever?

If you cannot live with the result of being with a debt-happy spender, when you are a frugal, debt-avoiding saver.. you need to say something.

You need to be on the SAME PAGE. The same MONEY PAGE so that you don’t split or divorce because of money.

Money is all about emotions

If you don’t get your money life in check, your emotions get all tangled up in it.

One person wants to spend $5000 on a vacation because they are stressed and need a break. The other wants that money for a downpayment on a home and are stressed that they don’t own any assets yet.

One person wants a new SUV. The other doesn’t agree and wants a more economical car because of the cost of gas.

You see how none of this is really about money?

The money is there — but the decisions and emotions around it, is the REAL conversation they should be having.

If you know your budget is $30,000 for a new car, let’s say, then you need to talk about how to spend that money.

Do you both agree to spend the entire $30,000 on a new car? Or $30,000 on a used car that is nicer?

Or spend half of that, buy a wreck and run it down, and take the other half and use it towards a home?

The budget of $30,000 stays the same, but the decisions around it, have to do with what you both want out of your money and life. This is what money management is.

Love doesn’t cure all

People change. Relationships change, people become different. You may fall out of love, HE may fall out of love.

Things happen for better or for worse, and hopefully for the better.

Whatever it is, you want to be sure you don’t get into a situation where your house is paid, you want to break up, and he ends up taking half because.. well.. you didn’t take care of your assets before you moved in together by having a prenup done.

The same goes, for the other side with guys.


I have heard many a horror story from men and women alike, of their spouses basically f*&@ing them over.

I know a guy who was paying the mortgage on his own, and his wife walked out on him, but cleverly had her name on the deed but NOT THE MORTGAGE.

He had to take a SECOND mortgage out on the home to deplete his equity, to pay her, what she was owed or “her half”.

Isn’t that some f*#$d up nonsense?

You may think your partner would never do that to you. I think that now of my own relationship, but when you are in the throes of a messy breakup, ugly things are said and ugly things happen.

People start feeling resentful, angry, calling a lawyer, and starting fights you never thought in a million years would happen.

You start wondering how you ever ended up with this person, seeing them in bulldog fight mode. Not everyone is like this, but when you have zero interest left in the relationship or incentive to be kind or generous, things get out of control pretty quickly.

If this has never happened to you where you feel resentful, and/or were ever in this situation of someone trying to take half of what you worked for without any regard, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t, then you are lucky and very fortunate. VERY fortunate.

I have had this happen of course.

Looking back, I was a dumb idiot. I really was. I am only happy it was a small, but expensive-at-that-time lesson to pay, and I got out of it relatively unscathed, because now I am stronger than ever before, and not as naive as before.

It is why I shake my head when people say things like:

What’s mine is yours

Love conquers all

A marriage is a union and an equal partnership of everything!

I agree with the SENTIMENT of the above, but when someone has worked hard and paid a house in full on their own with NO HELP from you, how is that an equal partnership if they don’t also come along and contribute equally to pay back and be on equal footing, not to mention racking up debt in the meantime?

I am also firmly in the camp of that this has nothing to do with love and romance.

Love and romance is all well and good until something goes wrong. Then suddenly, love doesn’t pay the bills, or puts food on the table.

Love doesn’t do any of that — proper money management and careful, unified planning is what does.

This for me, is more a partnership if you are both on the same page, and decide between the two of you what you want to do with your money, be it that someone pays more because they make more, or we are hardcore 50/50 (like us).

YOU DO YOU.

What I don’t love, is people blindly thinking love will see everything through. This to me, is a modern phenomenon, love and so on. We expect so much out of one emotion that we are devastated when it doesn’t live up to what we wanted or expected.

All of this scares the F out of me.

I hope it works out for them, but I am certainly not going to be surprised if it doesn’t, only because they are clearly not on the same money page as each other.

50% of marriages end in divorce.

#1 cause of divorce?

You guessed it —

MONEY

Thoughts?

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using TheBudgetingTool.com. I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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8 Comments

  1. SP

    I definitely have more of a “one pot” view of married finances, so the idea of him paying her $200 in rent (above and beyond the household bills) makes little sense to my concept of finances. Also, that is legally how marriage works in most US states: money earned by either partner during the marriage is joint property, 50/50, regardless of who earned it. Literally, what is mine is also my husband’s. Whether I like it or not.

    I do get what you are saying, though. Most adults have housing costs, and she has chosen to use her assets to pay of the mortgage. There is an opportunity cost that she is paying in order to have a paid off house. The assets that went to the home could have been invested in the market earning her profits, but she instead chose to eliminate her monthly payment and free up cash. He is benefiting from that without paying the opportunity cost.

    I agree the debt is very concerning, and that couples need to be on the same page about money and find a system that works for them.

    This most closely describes my feelings, where marriage is mini-socialism: https://apracticalwedding.com/be-feminist-combine-finances/

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      You had the right word — OPPORTUNITY COST! I knew I had a term and was searching for it in my head but couldn’t find it from my Econ 101 classes lol…

      Even with a prenup it is 50/50? I’m thinking for assets that were there before the marriage.

      After, I could see 50/50 being correct as you’re together after you joined assets and have a joint stake in each others’ incomes.

      Reply
  2. Lynx

    Hmmmm as a single person I own my place outright paid all by me. I would definitely be resentful if I get married and it becomes joint property to split in a divorce if the spouse did not contribute to any of the equity. Call me selfish but the key is to know thyself and I know me.

    This situation brings a few red flags including the debt acquired in the relationship. My personal solution would be to move out of my place and rent or buy a place together. We will then go 50/50 or what ever ratio decided based on income and there will be no animosity about what each of us brought into the relationship.

    Reply
    1. Kimberly

      Yes, I think buying something together is the best solution. I’d sign a prenup to protect pre-marriage assets (my 401k is small, but I’ve worked hard for it dammit!), then go 50/50 in a new home.

      In this case, it sounds like the guy isn’t capable of saving for a down payment though. That plus her expectations of men, this relationship sounds DOA.

      Reply
      1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

        She already has the house fully paid so he would basically have to pay her .. half.

        I’d definitely do a prenup to protect assets. I worked too hard to give any of it away.

        Reply
    2. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Yep. Exactly. I’d agree with this 100%.

      Reply
  3. Sense

    Hmmm, I think I disagree. My first thought was that after marriage, that $200/mo going into her savings account (or to buy stuff) would be split among them if they divorced, anyway, right? Just like the responsibility for the debt he incurs post-vows (YIKES, that $15K is a red flag from me). The abode would become the ‘marital residence’ and therefore be legally partly his anyway. So what does it matter, then?

    It also is fishy that he is paying for 100% of the household bills and then $200 on top of that. Why isn’t she paying half of the household bills? Do those bills include any home insurance, HOA, maintenance, stuff associated with home ownership? Is she paying taxes on that rental income?

    I think it totally makes sense for him (once he is her husband) to pay half (or a proportion by salary) of the house maintenance, insurance, utilities, etc etc etc, but her wanting him to pay over and above that to her and calling it ‘rent’ seems really petty and is possibly illegal. It also invites weird power struggles and blurred lines. She’s his wife, not his landlord. That is a huge sticking point for me–if he is paying rent, what are his rights as a tenant in the household? Is she going to pay him to do household repairs or mow the lawn or anything that a tenant wouldn’t normally have to do?! Are they going to have a rental contract? Is she paying for ALL of the household maintenance? If not, she doesn’t have a leg to stand on here. And what happens if he simply doesn’t pay it?

    In my personal life, I am 100% with you on the 50/50 thing in relationships. So far I’m unmarried and have implemented that 50/50 strategy–it is how I feel most comfortable. However, if my future husband owned a house, made living together a condition for the relationship, and wanted to charge me rent once I moved in, I would have SERIOUS doubts about marrying him. As a long-term partner/wife, I would of course be contributing to the household upkeep/maintenance, expect to be put on the mortgage, and pay a portion of it, if it existed (I can’t say that I would pay half of it, because I didn’t choose the house, and what if the mortgage is more than I can afford/would normally spend on rent?!). If I’m on the mortgage, I would expect to be named on the deed so that the life I’ve built and shared with my husband/long-term partner wasn’t taken away if he passed away, and so that I’m somewhat protected financially if he strayed/became abusive or left me. If I’m not on the mortgage, I am a tenant, and damn well better be protected by law in that case.

    I just can’t imagine being married/partnered to someone for 5, 10, 20+ years and not have any ownership over the house/home we’d have built together!!! I would also do the same if roles were reversed–at a certain point, it’s as much their house/responsibility as yours.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I completely agree. But I see more of the fact that she paid it in full, and he is just moving in. I don’t know what the split of the household bills are though — is he paying 100%? I’m not sure he is.

      At any rate, it doesn’t sound equitable on either side, red flag for sure on the 15K debt.

      As for the equity in the home, I’d prefer money paid back / into a fund that is equal to the cost of the half of the home before being put on a deed…

      Reply

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