The Moneyist: I paid off my fiancé’s $40,000 truck. He wants me to refinance my home with a VA loan — and only his name on the deed

United States

Dear Quentin,

I’m a teacher, widow and mom of a toddler. I support myself and my daughter on one income. My fiancé was struggling with a car loan. I paid for his truck using $ 40,000 of my savings. We didn’t talk about how he would pay me back. 

Now that we are about to live together, I asked him to budget because I think he spends more than he makes. He has asked me to share expenses 50/50 even though he makes more money than me. 

That seems unfair, as he is moving into my house and will be paying less than he was paying on his own. (He is divorced and never asked his ex-wife to work. He paid for everything — even a child she had with someone else.)

He wants to buy my house so we can lower the mortgage rate, but it will be only his name on the deed, and he will ask for a VA home loan. Should I tell him to divide the budget according to percentages?

And should I ask him to pay me back the $ 40,000 on a monthly basis? 


Dear Elle,

Let’s start with the question you did not ask: “Should I refinance my house in my fiancé’s name?”

No. You have given him $ 40,000 of your savings, money that could have been used for an emergency and/or put toward a savings plan for your daughter’s education. The fact that he accepted that, given that you earn less than he does and have a young daughter, is shocking. 

Your fiancé should want you to put your needs and those of your daughter first. Thus far, he has put his financial needs front and center. People fall in love and lose perspective on what constitutes a healthy relationship. Even the word “fiancé” sounds nice — and, coupled with the fact that he apparently supported his former wife and her child, gives him a halo effect. Build your own halos.

Start by acting in the best interest of your own family. Beware of people who tell you a story in which they are the hero, and then ask for money and your home. Yes, you should ask him to repay the money you gave him. Unfortunately, without a notarized loan agreement, he can say it was a gift. Courts are full of the loan vs. gift dilemma. Usually, such cases involve people who have been in a relationship.

Write down the qualities you would like to have in a partner. Taking money to pay off a truck from someone with a young child to take care of should go in the column of people best avoided. And in the “ideal partner” column? Financially solvent. Generous with his time. Careful with his money. And careful with your money. Basically, someone who does not act out of their own self-interest.

His truck should be decorated with red flags. Relationships can bring a sense of security, the warmth of companionship and good times, but they should not put your savings and your home at risk. To lose one of these is regrettable, but to give up both is reckless.

The only contract he should sign is one that acknowledges he took $ 40,000 from you, and a roadmap for him to pay it back.

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