My boyfriend has a nicer house, and says I should live with him. My mortgage is paid off. He believes I should pay half of his monthly costs. Is that fair?

Dear Quentin,

My boyfriend owns a home with a 30-year mortgage balance of $150,000 at a 4% interest rate. He has $275,000 in cash and retirement accounts. He is retired.

My house is paid off. I have $50,000 in cash and retirement accounts. I would like to retire within one to two years.

We want to live together but couldn’t agree on a reasonable “rent” to pay. He is not willing to live in my house because it has less amenities.

He believes I should pay half of his monthly costs at his nicer, more expensive house. He can pay off his mortgage and save $600 a month, but he likes to have cash.

I gave up that luxury and paid off my mortgage. I am now working on building up my savings. I don’t feel it’s fair that I’m paying half the mortgage interest cost.

I don’t know what repair and maintenance costs I should be expected to pay if I have no equity in his home. There are many points of view, none of which feel fair.

These are the options he outlined:

· I live in his house and can therefore rent mine. Pay him half of what I receive from that rent.

· Pay half of the actual living expenses and maintenance on his house while I live there.

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· Pay him what I pay to live in my current home for taxes, insurance and utilities: $800/month.

What say you, Moneyist?

Homeowner & Girlfriend

Dear Homeowner,

I’m sure your house is just as nice. And just because he believes it doesn’t make it so. If you pay no mortgage on your own house, I don’t believe you should pay one red cent more to live in his house.

That is, you should not get out of this arrangement paying more just because he (a) wants you to live in his house and (b) help him pay off his mortgage, or his taxes and maintenance.

You both made different choices: It was yours to have a home free and clear of a mortgage so you could spend this time building up your savings for retirement and/or a rainy day.

You’ve worked hard to pay off your mortgage, and you have $50,000 in savings, less than 20% of your boyfriend’s savings. He has $150,000 left on his mortgage, and it’s his choice.

If his goal is to get help paying off half of his mortgage, he can get a tenant to do it for him.

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You are not the answer to his long term financial plans, you are his life partner. If his goal is to get help paying off half of his mortgage, he can get a tenant to do it for him. What do you expected of you? Forget what he expects.

The way he approaches this arrangement seems like he wants the equivalent of a detergent and a fabric softener – a girlfriend and a tenant in one handy bottle to keep his financial plans smooth and clean.

Bottom line: You shouldn’t jeopardize any plans to build your nest egg. The lady is not to be turned. Only give into his plan if – with the help of an actual tenant in your home – it helps you too.

In other words, the desired outcome for you is more important than the suggestions he presented. He can save $600 a month! This is his business. Not yours. What do you want in your pocket every month?

Find out what you want, and then work your way backwards based on that goal. For example, if you can pay him $800 a month, charge $1,600 in rent for your house, and put $800 toward your savings, do it.

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You’ve come a long way. Don’t let these negotiations complicate it.

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