‘I’m spending a fortune on home maintenance. I realize my second husband is essentially living in my house for free’: What is a fair way to split costs?

I am a 62 year old retired woman. I became a widower in 2006 at the age of 46 and raised my two children (now 24 and 27) on my own. I used the money from my husband’s life insurance (about $ 500,000) to support our home, care for the children, and get the two children to go to college without student loans.

I also made some investments. I saved with my 401 (k) at work, getting the most out of it every year. Now retired due to health issues, I have a small pension (about $ 24,000 a year), an investment account valued at $ 2.5 million (from which I am extracting about 2% per annum for living expenses) , a home valued at about $ 400,000. and without debt.

I remarried 6 years ago. My husband is a wonderful man with many great qualities, although he has not been great at managing money. He was divorced: his wife left him and his 3 children, and he raised them alone. (They are all older, 29 to 35 years old.) He is 65 years old, now retired, was an engineer, and had a well-paid job.

I fully recognize that her financial position was different from mine: she never received any maintenance from her ex’s children and in fact had to pay her spouse’s support for 4 years, while I had Social Security and an insurance to help my finances. He saved some while working, but for many years did not invest in his 401 (k). He has a pension about 2.5 times bigger than mine, and will start collecting Social Security next month. He also has about $ 500,000 in retirement savings.

“My house is a trust of my children and premarital gives a vital interest to the house, if it dies before it dies.”

When I married my husband, he sold his house, which was valued at $ 100,000 more than mine, but had no assets (due to the loan for home maintenance, cars, and college tuition). ). He had to bring money to the closing, paying the bank the rest of the loan.

I lent him that money and lent him $ 20,000 for the paint, mold repair, and floor repairs that had to be finished before he moved in. His first and second mortgage and living expenses consumed all his income, and he lived on credit. He owed about $ 50,000 in credit cards and $ 40,000 for his college son’s college expenses (he also had a loan).

After we sold his house and got married, he paid for everything. He returned everything I had borrowed, paid off his credit cards, and repaid the student loan (which he finally paid off in full this year).

We signed a prenuptial agreement before we got married. My house is a trust for my children and premarital gives a vital interest to the house, if it dies before it dies. We distribute the maintenance costs. For the first 4 years of our marriage, this division included money for the mortgage (we paid about $ 550 a month each). The prenuptial officer states that if I sell the house, I owe him $ 550 for each month he pays half the mortgage; that’s about $ 25,000 in total. I’m fine with all that.

“It’s very practical and does a lot of small repairs and maintenance itself, which I’m very grateful for.”

We’re still splitting the costs, but we no longer pay $ 550 a month as the mortgage is paid off. However, we have been making many improvements to the house. Some are improvements we both wanted (e.g., replacing the worn and deformed roof with a new blue stone patio) and others were needed (e.g., removing the roof from the lair due to duct leaks and repair ducts, replace roof and floor).

I am spending a fortune on home maintenance. I realize my second husband is basically living in my house for free. It is very practical and does a lot of small repairs and maintenance itself, which I really appreciate.

Any repairs and improvements benefit me more than him, as I will notice the increase in the value of my home when I sell it. But I am increasingly resentful because I am covering so many big expenses and I wonder if there is a fair way for me to pay some of these costs.

I also realize that my net worth is greater than his. What is fair? Should I pay rent or some other maintenance costs? Or should I suck it up and pay for anything related to the house and just appreciate the maintenance work it does for me?

What is your advice for a fair deal?

Thank you so much.

Second wife in Virginia

Dear second wife,

Before I answer your question, I want to congratulate you on getting here. First as a woman, widow and single mother, and again as a second woman, sailing and, for the most part, avoiding those treacherous financial traps from which millions of people fall every day.

You are also a wonderful example of playing the long game. You have invested, paid off your mortgage, raised your children in college, and had a large number to help offset your more modest pension. Not only did you survive, you prospered. You led a good and seemingly happy life.

This column is about money, mainly if you take the title literally, but if you don’t have peace of mind and have a second chance to be happy with a new relationship, as you did with your second husband, for What’s the use of all this? anyways? Money alone will not satisfy anyone.

Not only did you stay in the black, but you helped your second husband get out of debt, provided him with a stable family life, and protected yourself with a very smart prenuptial agreement that also generously agrees to pay him the contributions. that he he. made to your mortgage if you sell it. Brava!

From the romantic to the semantic

And now I would like to move from romantic to semantic. Sorry in advance. You write that you feel resentful because your husband doesn’t pay for any of the renovations, which I imagine add up to thousands of dollars, but he will benefit from it for the rest of his life.

You say you’re resentful because you they are paying for renovations, not because he has refused to pay. You are essentially and objectively upset with yourself, instead of blaming your husband. (You could have volunteered to pay half of it. Rightly or wrongly, you think your financial obligations to your home are complete.)

Your solution is a little less straightforward, so it will help you to be honest with him. Tell him you didn’t expect the renovations to cost so much, and start by asking him what he he believes it would be a fair contribution. You can update your prenuptial agreement to agree to repay the capital improvements in the event of a sale or split.

Keep in mind that you embarked on these reforms without understanding or intending for him to pay for them as well. It may be fair to pay 50% of the most recent essential renovations, but less than 50% for the more expensive blue stone patio.

A surprise at 11 o’clock

However, you can agree to pay 50% of all of them. It’s harder to ask him to pay you 50% retroactively, especially if you go back a few years. He also has a fixed income, but no one likes to be surprised with a bill at 11 a.m., and at such a late stage after the initial expense.

For this reason, I would also not recommend asking you to pay the rent. It seems like too much of a carpet and, more than that, a covert way to cover expenses you didn’t ask for or expect to pay in the first place. After all, you are both retired.

It doesn’t have to be 50/50. It’s your house. You both have the benefit of living there all your life, assuming you stay married, and eventually it will go to your children. You are investing in your home as a place to live, but not as an asset that you can pass on to your own children.

You have navigated your financial and marital negotiations with consideration, openness and respect. There is no reason why this should be different. It will be easier for him to accept if you do not approach him with a firm, inflexible proposal that is one done consummate.

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