Sharing Car Expenses With Girlfriend?

I have lived with my girlfriend for 4 years now. She moved into the house I was renting and she bought it two years later. I'm still paying the same amount I was when I was renting from my former landlord only now I'm paying my girlfriend. With our arrangement she owns the house, has a mortgage of around $1600 and between what I pay her, and our tenant who rents out the basement, she is only paying $450 a month for her mortgage. So buying the house was a great deal for her. Especially considering she was paying $1600 for a rundown one bedroom apt before she moved in with me.

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We split all the bills 50/50 and we alternate turns on buying the groceries. She has a car, I don't. Whenever we go places I end up driving her car because she usually doesn't want to. Lately we have been sharing in the car repairs, but here is where it gets contentious.

She got her car in 2001 and barely drove it anywhere as she lived in a very urban neighborhood and walked or took public transport. I started dating her in the fall of 2009 and the car had only 31,000 miles on it after owning it for 8 years. As of today, July 14, 2015 it now has 72,000 miles on it. We aren't as urban as her former neighborhood so it is 1-2 miles to the grocery stores and shops so she has put a little bit more mileage on the car than she would have had she not moved in with me.

Two summers ago I used her car for part of a job where I had to visit people's homes in the evenings to take measurements for installing our product. This went on for about 7 months where I was driving it about 20-25 miles a night, 3-4 nights a week. It was then I agreed to pay half of the car repairs. We take turns on filling up the tank although I was filling up the tank most of the time that summer as result of my using it after work which is fair as I was using much more gas than normal.

I'm currently unemployed. I have been since October 2014. Between September 2014 to last week we have spent $4944 on car repairs, half of which she expects me to pay back to her when I'm working again. The blue book value places the car at around $2500-3000, much less than what she has paid in repairs for the car in the last 7 months. $800 to fix the AC, $500 for the brakes, $150 to replace the interior door handle after it broke, $1757 to replace the charcoal canister, etc. Basically, it is death by a thousand paper cuts.

The car is not in my name so if she were to break up with me tomorrow I would have absolutely no ownership in the car. Sometimes when we get into a fight she will even pointedly and repeatedly remind me it is her car. When I try to address my concerns about this, the value of the car vs what is paid out in repairs and my not having any ownership in the vehicle, she gets hostile and says how she doesn't believe that I think like that. She is unwilling to have a calm discussion about this. She brings up how I used the car two years ago for my job inconveniencing her and then accuses me of being a taker and a user. Needless to say my resentment over the issue is growing.

Admittedly, I do use the car when I do the grocery shopping every other week and every two weeks I pick up my daughter for the weekend, but that is pretty much it. The rest of the time I end up driving the car for her when we to go visit her friends and family or her daily visit to Starbucks. She doesn't like driving at night so when we go out, I am the one behind the wheel.

I am all for a fair arrangement, but I do feel that the balance is off on this matter. Am I in the wrong for having these reservations regarding the mounting car repair bills or am I getting sandbagged here?

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July 16, 20150 found this helpful

Well, walking to the shops is great exercise and saves the wear and tear on the car. From the sound of things, the car is falling to pieces anyway, so why not sell it for what you (she) can get instead of throwing good money after bad? Scout around and spend your time (while you have the time between jobs) finding a good, second-hand car? Either that or ask her to pay for parts while you fix the car the two of you are currently using? Would that be a possibility?

I'm sorry the two of you are arguing and yes, money is often the root of disagreements, but if the two of you try to find solutions, together, I'm sure you'll find ways to solve the problems, together, and be stronger as a couple.

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Wishing you every success.

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July 17, 20150 found this helpful

I suspect the arguments you are having are more about you being unemployed rather than the car. Are you receiving unemployment insurance, and able to contribute to the finances this way? I challenge you to think about how things are going, and try to figure out if these arguments are truly about the car, or if they are about finances and debt in general, or if they are about deeper issues in the relationship.

By the way, if both are you are in the car, it is joint use of the car. It doesn't matter who is driving. And if you are driving her places you would not go otherwise, that doesn't count as your use of the car. Just a thought on that topic.

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July 18, 20150 found this helpful

You are using a car that is not yours. Your girlfriend has no obligation to sell her car and upgrade despite the fact that this would be a better deal for her, and she has no obligation to renegotiate with you. However, the fact that she is unwilling to see reason tells me all is not well. Women are usually most unreasonable when they are angry about something.

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The fact that your girlfriend is getting a great deal on the house just means she's smart. It doesn't mean she should charge you less. If you and the tenant are paying an equal amount, you're only paying $575 to live in a house. That's the price of an older one-bedroom apartment here.

You have been unemployed for 9 months. Maybe she wonders how long this is going to last. Keep in mind that she's payed all repairs so far, and you have promised to pay her back, but now it sounds like you're trying to get out of it. It must seem to her like you aren't planning to find employment at all.

It sounds to me that you're concerned if she left you, you would have no transportation, and you have no claim on the car since you haven't technically paid for any repairs. This should tell you that you are in a bad position. Your relationship is not equitable.

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Figure out what you'd need to do in order to get an apartment and transportation of your own. Having a plan will help. I'd work toward getting self-reliant. You can still be with your girlfriend, but your relationship would be so much better if you weren't beholden to her.

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