‘Am I being ripped off?’ I moved into my husband’s home. I pay for groceries. The rent from my apartment goes into our joint savings.

I read one of your previous columns about the guy who wants the letter writer to move, my case is similar, but we have already made a decision on how to structure our finances as they relate to our living arrangements.

Here’s my dilemma: I own an apartment, and it’s paid off. However, I moved into my husband’s apartment. He also paid off his mortgage. I sold my house, and the income from it goes into our joint savings account.

I pay my own fees and taxes for my home, and so does he pay his own maintenance and taxes for his property. While I live in his apartment, I am in charge of the groceries. Will I get rid of it?

Feeling restless

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dear inconvenient,

Before we get to whether your situation is fair, a word of warning: if you use money from this account to repair your home, you will more than likely consolidate the asset – that is, it can turn it from a separate asset to marital. / community property. State laws vary, but you should consult an attorney before taking assets from rental income.

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There is a term in real estate called getting “gazumped.” That is, accept an offer at a certain price only to have the seller raise the price at the last minute and/or to have someone else arrive at the 11th hour and beat your offer. It happens when your back is turned, or you’re about to open the champagne, or only when your guard is down.

Your husband may have suggested that it would be more convenient to put the rent from your home into a joint savings account. But it all depends on the figures. If, for example, you deposit $2,000 into your joint account and pay $500 for groceries per month, your husband receives $1,250 per month from your contract, while you receive $500.

‘You will have to pay taxes on your rental income, so splitting the gross proceeds 50/50 is a bad idea. At the very least, it potentially muddies the water.’

What’s more, you’ll have to pay taxes on your rental income, so splitting the gross proceeds 50/50 — something you’re effectively doing by depositing it into a joint account — is a bad idea. At the very least, it potentially muddies the water. You also have the added responsibility of being a reliable landlord, while your husband gets a wife and tenant rolled into one handy arrangement.

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Finally, your question is hard to unpack without the numbers. You and your husband each pay for your own taxes and maintenance now that your respective mortgages are paid off. They may or may not be an equal amount, but they are based on the market value and size of your respective homes. For this reason, they should be left out of the equation.

I recommend keeping separate bank accounts, and paying your husband X amount per month for living in his home, and splitting the other bills (electricity and groceries) 50/50. This keeps things simple and ensures that no one takes advantage of the other – even inadvertently. You can always set up a joint account later, and make a set deposit every month.

If this is your first marriage, merge your assets gradually and carefully. If this is your second marriage, proceed with more caution. I understand that you want to be husband and wife, rather than roommates, but you may have more success by maintaining your financial independence. So, you are together because you want to be, and not because your union is dictated by finances.

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Also read:

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‘My girlfriend owes $200,000 in medical and credit card debt’: She wants me to settle it – by paying part of the outstanding amount

‘He’s not ready to live in my house because it has fewer amenities’: My boyfriend wants me to move in and pay half of his monthly expenses. Is this beautiful?

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