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Roomies are all going in different directions so how do we divide the stuff we bought together?

Tagged as: Big Questions, Friends, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (19 March 2017) 6 Answers - (Newest, 19 March 2017)
A male United States age 26-29, anonymous writes:

It's coming to the end of our lease and I [26,M] just found out I need some major dental work that's going to cost me a TON of money. So to save up again I'm moving back in with my ex-girlfriend, Lana,[22,F] I won't have to pay anything so I should be back on my feet in no time, it's just dealing with her is the problem, but she's out the country right now, so it's fine. I could always just ask her for the money but I would never give her that much power over me, she feeds on that. My buddy Chase has also decided to move out, but he's going all the way back home. Lastly my roommate Aaron decided he's ready to live on his own, so he is moving to a little apartment down the street. The issue is there is so many expensive things we bought together that we don't even know how to split it up, who gets what? When we first got here, our dryer machine was broke, landlord refused to fix it, so we put our money together to buy a new one. I also bought, MYSELF, a stainless steel toaster oven, FOR ME, of course they used it but now that we are moving out, I want my toaster oven. Then there is the huge problem, who gets the living room TV, that was a $1,000 TV that we just so happened to catch on clearance for like $700, that was our best investment together, now we are arguing on who gets it. I said we could just split everything down the middle, but Chase said that we had to make sure everything was equal in value, and according to our needs, which is pretty much impossible. Then chase said that we could have everything as long as he got the TV, then Aaron jumped on him saying that the TV should go to him because he paid the most for it, its really a mess. Everyone seems to think I don't need to take anything because my ex girlfriend doesn't like seeing new things in her house, which is true, but damn I at least want my toaster oven, even if I never plug it up. Honestly this whole thing is irritating and it's not how I wanted to spend my last days of freedom with my bro's before I leave, especially with Chase since he's moving back home. Is there really a completely fair way to split things we bought together?? I'm open to anything!

View related questions: ex girlfriend, money, my ex, roommate

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A female reader, Andie's Thoughts United Kingdom + , writes (19 March 2017):

Andie's Thoughts agony auntNow that I think about it, what have you told your ex for her to decide to let you live there rent free?

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A female reader, YouWish United States + , writes (19 March 2017):

YouWish agony auntWhat the hell??? This ex Lana is paying for your needs while you save up for dental work, and you're quibbling over a toaster oven?? I think that belongs to Lana, not you. You say that she gets "power over you". What kind of a man ARE you?? Honestly, move back in with your parents like most kids do to save up money for stuff. Using an ex-girlfriend and whining about toaster ovens is NOT cool.

Best thing to do here is to sell EVERYTHING on Craigslist and split the sale proceeds. Easy as pie, and you don't really think that stuff is worth the same as when you bought it, right? Your toaster oven, which was about $20-$50 when you bought it, is probably worth $5-$10 now that it's used. SELL IT. Hold a moving sale, a Craigslist sale. You'll have that place cleared out in no time.

No ex-girlfriend feeds on the "power" of financially supporting a man-child. In order to have her pay, you'd have to lie to her about getting back together with her. I think what you're doing is despicable, to be honest. Get her hopes up, make her feel like you're in love with her again, get her to pay for everything, then when you're back on your feet and your teeth are fixed, to dump her after using her?? That is a really terrible thing to do.

If you were honest with Lana and said "Hey, I need to move back in with you, but you're still my ex. I'm going to sleep with other women while you're out of the country, and I look at moving in with you as going back to prison, and I'm fighting over a toaster oven with chase to celebrate my last days of freedom because I really hate living with you" she'd drop you and not pay for a thing.

Move back home with your parents and stop using people.

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A female reader, Andie's Thoughts United Kingdom + , writes (19 March 2017):

Andie's Thoughts agony auntNot being funny, but you're using her. Sure, she'd hold the money over you, but you're using her to live rent-free. Swings and roundabouts, OP.

You might as well sell it all and split it or buy each other out - i.e the guy that wants the TV pays you both the amounts you chipped in.

It's not that difficult. Be mature (all of you) and either buy each other's shares, split it up to roughly equal or sell it all, if you can't make up your minds.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (19 March 2017):

For communally shared items you put them up for sale through a local newspaper advertisement and then you split the proceeds or reimburse everyone according to the percentage paid.

Strange that the ex is taking you in so that you can upgrade your mouth!

Moving on is an inevitable part of life but its not always wise to move backwards!

Seems like it was a case of more flash than cash!

Im not sure why the ex is taking you back but make sure you both fully understand the agreement before you make groundbreakingly alternative arragements.

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A female reader, like I see it United States + , writes (19 March 2017):

like I see it agony auntI think it's fair to say the toaster oven is entirely yours since you paid the full cost of it and no one else contributed. Whether your ex likes it or not is irrelevant to the fact that it's your property and you have the right to take it with you, give it away, or do whatever else you please with it. You bought it, you own it.

The TV and dryer are trickier. In a perfect world whoever got to keep each would pay out the others their fair share of what was paid into it, perhaps less an agreed-upon amount for depreciation due to everyone's communal use of it. For example, you guys paid $700 for that TV but it isn't worth $700 used, probably not even close. Say you paid $200, Chase paid $200 and Aaron paid $300 originally, and to continue the assumption and illustrate the math let's say the TV is worth $500 now. In that case each person being bought out would be owed 5/7ths of what they paid in, because it is worth 5/7ths (500/700) of the purchase price. If Aaron wanted the TV, he should fairly compensate you and Chase $142 each (5/7ths of the original $200 each) before walking away with it. Same math goes for the dryer, whatever you guys paid for that.

All that being said, "perfect world" and "real world" are most definitely not the same place. Odds are the three of you are going to have to strike a balance between getting everything you're owed and parting on good terms, assuming that's a goal of yours. If none of you is in a financial position to compensate the others for their portion of the purchase price on communal items, someone will have to be the bigger person and accept that they are giving up some of what they could rightfully "demand" if they wanted to stick it to the other guy/s.

(That, or go Biblical and split each item into three equal-sized pieces. It's probably way more legal with a TV and dryer than it is with a baby :P )

Hope this helps you. Good luck and best wishes!

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (19 March 2017):

First, I really don't recommend you moving back with your ex just to use her for free rent while you save up money. It's disrespectful to her and not healthy for your relationship. What about going back to your parents place, or finding another place with cheaper rent? You need to take responsibility for yourself. What's the dental work, and is it absolutely necessary? Is there a financing plan that lets you pay in installments? If you don't learn to be responsible for your own financial payments you won't ever grow up.

Second, regarding the roommates situation, if you three can't agree on something that makes you all happy, I suggest seeing a mediator or googling what seems like a fair solution. Can you sell the TV and dryer and other expensive things and split the money proportionally to how much each person contributed? Ie. If Aaron paid more for the TV, then he should get more money back after you sell the TV. If Aaron wants to keep the TV, he can "buy" it like a buyer, and you guys split the cash proportionally. Regarding the toaster oven, you should get to keep that because you paid for all of it, so it's yours.

Consider the roommate situation as a lesson learned. When you start a business with someone, you never want it to be 50-50 ownership because it will never be equal. Someone has to be the designated leader in times of tough decisions. Same with ownership with furniture when you have roommates. Take ownership of furniture before you buy, or decide on what will happen to furniture when you move out beforehand.

At the end of the day, everyone gets weird about money. Keep in mind that if you work hard and make smart decisions, all this (I'm guessing the furniture is max $1000 out of your pocket) is trivial compared to the salary you'll make in the future.

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