DEAR AMY: I'm struggling with how to address financial issues with my partner. When he first moved in with me, I was assured that it would be a partnership. He made no efforts to contribute to the monthly maintenance costs and only after arguing about it did my partner take over paying for the cable/Wi-Fi. While I endure stress to save and manage bills and real estate taxes, my partner clearly stated that this wasn't his problem. Yes, I own the apartment, but how did I suddenly get stuck with 99 percent of the responsibility for living in a home, and how is this considered a partnership? If we were renting somewhere, would I get stuck with the majority of the bills? I feel taken advantage of while I spend every day working to make sure that at least one of us has the fiscal health to keep a roof over our heads. When I try to discuss this, he argues and complains about how I make more money than he does. Mind you, my "lifestyle" includes wearing the same two pairs of jeans and sneakers that are 10 years old, spending on bills first and saving for occasional dinners out. I just feel like I'm enabling someone who can't get his finances together, and then I get attacked for being a jerk when I bring it up. I can't win this argument and my partner sees nothing wrong with it. How should I bring this up? What can I do?
DEAR ENABLER: Before your guy moved in with you, you say you "were assured" it would be a partnership. Who, exactly, assured you? Was this an assumption on your part? And how do you each define a partnership? You would gain clarity by seeing an accountant together. You should each bring your pay stubs, monthly bills, expenses, and a credit report. There should be transparency regarding income and debts and he should contribute in proportion to his income.
I assume he would refuse to participate in this process, because making you feel bad makes economic sense for him, enabling him to kick the problem down the road until this boils over again.
Your real issue is not financial but relational. If you are not able to work together to arrive at an equitable partnership, you should consider finding another roommate.
DEAR AMY: I have a close friend of many years who is not a good driver. Due to her driving "style" and other circumstances, her car is in the shop a day or two every few months. In the past, passengers have tried to gently remark about her unsafe driving, which she does not take well. My husband and I share a car, which she has asked to borrow on several occasions. We are running out of excuses to not let her borrow it. How do I have a frank conversation to let her know that we're just not comfortable lending it to her because of her driving?
DEAR CAR POOR: For many of us, our vehicle is our most valuable -- and indispensable -- possession. It is entirely reasonable not to lend out your car (certainly if you already share it with another person).
You should deliver your policy before she asks you again: "I want you to know that Steve and I are stretched with sharing our vehicle and we won't be able to lend it to you. Because of your driving history we don't feel comfortable risking it. If something happened to our car, we'd be in bad shape." AARP sponsors a safe driving course (aarpdriversafety.org). Taking a refresher course would be good for her, her insurance rates, her friendships, and others on the road.
DEAR AMY: "Worried Mom" wrote about her teen daughter's occasional pot use, changing friendships and frequent tantrums. I recognized this immediately from our own experience with our grandson. He said he sometimes used marijuana -- but it turns out it was a daily habit for him. If Mom would have her daughter tested, I assume she would see that the girl's pot use was more than occasional. Our grandson is finally getting his act together.
DEAR GRANDFATHER: I think you're probably right. Thank you.