Q: When two people buy a house, is it normal for them to make the same mortgage payment monthly, even if one person makes more money?—M.S., Toronto
A: Relationships are funny. What’s considered “normal” behaviour for one couple may be considered completely absurd by another couple living right next door. In my opinion, “normal” doesn’t matter. What matters is what works for the two of you, based on what you want. Take a big step back and talk about what you want for the future—both as individuals and as a couple. Then figure out how you’re going to pay for it. Not just the mortgage—all of it: house maintenance, groceries, vacations, cars, kids, retirement savings and your respective vices. Sure, when there is a disparity in income it can be a challenge to decide on priorities. When thinking long term, it is best if your retirement incomes are as close as possible, in order to minimize the tax you pay. This means the higher-income earner should pay more of the expenses pre-retirement. Hopefully you’ll have a long and happy life together, and avoid the “normal” route that many couples take that leads to strife and divorce.
Bruce Sellery is a frequent guest on financial television shows and author of Moolala. Do you have your own personal question? Write to Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org