Grain of Salt: Should I Pay Part of His Mortgage? Plus, A Second-Guessing Coworker

Anne Wolfe Postic has advice to spare.

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Dear Salt,

I love my boyfriend so much. He’s kind and smart, totally hot, and he loves my cat! We’ve been together about a year and split bills when it comes to vacation and going out. Sometimes he pays, sometimes I pay, or we split down the middle. I’m ready to move in with him, but there’s an issue. He has a good salary and I’m in grad school, so he’s ready to buy a house and I’m still renting. I’m happy for him! He wants me to pay part of the mortgage, because he’ll need a bigger (more expensive) place if I’m moving in. If we were renting together, it would make sense to each pay half, but how do I decide how much of his mortgage to pay? I love him and I’m scared he’ll break up with me if I don’t figure this out. Sometimes I wish he was broke like me, just to make things fair.

Poor Girlfriend

Congrats on the great boyfriend, I guess! Everyone’s on their own schedule when it comes to finances, which shouldn’t stop you from living with the love of your life. It’s only fair you should pay your share of the bills. If you were renting, you’d both be on the lease, equally obligated to pay your share of the rent for the life of that lease. If one of you wanted out, you’d pay for the remaining portion of the year, at most.

Therein lies the problem, no? A mortgage is not a lease, and could obligate him for as many as 30 years. You write, “He wants me to pay part of the mortgage, because he’ll need a bigger (more expensive) place if I’m moving in.” What if you break up? Couldn’t he ask you to continue paying his mortgage since he spent more to accommodate you? Only fair. And if you’re paying into the mortgage, helping him build equity, shouldn’t you get a piece of the action?

I think the two of you should look for another solution. I don’t know what long-term plans you’ve discussed, but could you pay into the mortgage and have both of your names on the deed? You can be a co-owner without being a borrower if you can’t get approved. When my partner and I bought our first house, he had a job and I didn’t. We both own the house, but only he has a mortgage. I joke that my half is paid for. He doesn’t laugh quite as hard as I do.

If you aren’t ready to have a real estate baby together — because it’s a huge step, in my mind, equivalent to getting married — it would be lovely for you to pay some extra expenses, like minor household repairs, or weekend getaways, roughly equivalent to what you could afford in rent. You could also help with household tasks, like painting and yard work. But I don’t want you to become an indentured servant. If he’s lounging in the hammock waiting for fresh lemonade while you mow the lawn, neither of you will be happy, especially if he also expects you to mulch.

Anne Wolfe Postic Grain of Salt author photo

Anne Wolfe Postic is a Columbia-based writer.

You asked how much of his mortgage you should pay. That may not be the right question. Why not keep your lease and encourage him to buy within his means? If there’s room for you, then there is. And if there isn’t, you’ll have to decide how you feel about that. (Which sucks, I know.) You’re afraid this conversation will lead to heartache, and it might. But agreeing to pay someone else’s mortgage, especially without a legal agreement, could lead to a lot more heartache down the road. At least you’ll know who he his.

Dear Salt,

I have a coworker who questions every little tiny thing I tell her. I’ve never given her a bad or incorrect answer, so I think it's just her personality to "Are you sure?" everyone and everything. I don't take it personally. But it’s annoying and a total time waster to know I’m going to have to answer her twice on every question she asks, and it's a lot of them.

Is there any way I can get her to cut it out or call it to her attention in a professional way? She isn't above me, but it is my job to answer her questions. Do I have to answer the second ones too? Please help!

Doubled Talked

Ugh. Ugh! UGH. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just tell her? I mean, you’d be helping her and everyone she works with now and forevermore. But it’s never that easy. Why don’t you try to cut her off at the pass by offering some verification with every answer?

Here comes Lady Doubts-a-Lot. “Are there new cover sheets for the TPS reports?”

“Why, yes,” you respond brightly. “Yesterday’s memo from Lumbergh was clear on that. By the way, have you seen my red stapler?”

By immediately asking her a question, you may also stop her from continuing to question you. And if you don’t have verification to tag on to your answer, make something up, which could be entertaining, like a game! Fun times. Hey, at least she isn’t that guy who uses voice to text all day, like cubicle walls are soundproof or something. Ugh. That guy.

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