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Communal Living Cost Sharing - Automobile
Old 09-03-2013, 12:57 PM   #1
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Communal Living Cost Sharing - Automobile

I am requesting your input on the following situation. We are now living with our daughter and son-in-law because we embrace communal style living. It is working very well. So far, we have done a nice job of sharing expenses. For the most part, they are 50/50 but there are exceptions. It is the car expense that I am seeking your input.

They brought a scooter and we brought a car to the relationship. 95% of the time, the scooter is used for commuting to work by our daughter. Since it has been used for their own needs, they have taken financial responsibility, such as gas and maintenance.

The car on the other hand is used about 90% for all of our benefit. We go shopping, go out, etc. We have been splitting gas 50/50 and when we do some maintenance, such as an oil change, I expect that will be 50/50 (it hasn't happened yet). Since it is early in our living arrangement, this has worked so far. The other 10% of the car use seems like a 50/50 split between the couples for using the car for personal things.

As for the car, it is a 2009 Chevy Malibu with just under 40,000 miles when we moved in together. It cost about $18k new. It seems to be running OK.

My question revolves around the repurchase of a car when required and longer term maintenance requirements. I do not need or want them to purchase a portion of this car. I think this will make things easier if our living arrangement does not work out. I am more interested in financial support when I need to replace this car and to do the fairest thing when longer term maintenance is required since we will be adding a lot more miles than when we drove the car prior to the arrangement.

With all this in mind, how would you recommend a financial sharing program that would be fair for all of us?

Please let me know if you need more information.

Thanks
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Old 09-03-2013, 01:16 PM   #2
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If this is really a 10%/90% split I would not do any financial sharing for this car.
I would tell them - "When you feel like it, fill the gas tank" and that's about it.
I had been truck sharing with SIL husband, when they lived with us for almost a year and I did not require them to share anything more. Even when he was using the truck most of the time (I either bicycle or walk to work).
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Old 09-03-2013, 02:19 PM   #3
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DW and I have individual budgets for individual expenses, including cars. I check the mileages at the end of each year and we each get the IRS approved $0.55/mile or whatever it is now, paid from our combined income. That leaves room for individual car choices, with some "fairness" in reimbursements. She drives hers to w*rk, which benefits both of us. I only drive about once a week now...

Seems like anything that would be demonstrably fairer than what you're doing would have to involve a bunch of mileage recording. But you could estimate a percentage of usage and break up the costs that way, if you all agree. Maybe revisit the split once a year or if the situation changes.
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Old 09-03-2013, 03:13 PM   #4
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If this is really a 10%/90% split I would not do any financial sharing for this car.
I would tell them - "When you feel like it, fill the gas tank" and that's about it.....
I agree with this. Sharing the cost of using things is easy, but splitting up communal property if your arrangement changes could be a nightmare.
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Old 09-03-2013, 07:57 PM   #5
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I'm confused. If your get 95% of the benefit from the car (90% plus half of the remaining 10%), why would you expect them to pay 50% of the expenses (gas, registration, insurance, maintenance, etc)?

If the car is 90% your benefit and it is your daughter and you are all living together, why not just pay for everything related to the car and not fret about the 5% benefit they receive since it is at least partially offset by the 5% benefit you receive from use of the scooter?
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Old 09-03-2013, 09:10 PM   #6
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I'm confused. If your get 95% of the benefit from the car (90% plus half of the remaining 10%), why would you expect them to pay 50% of the expenses (gas, registration, insurance, maintenance, etc)?
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The car on the other hand is used about 90% for all of our benefit. ... The other 10% of the car use seems like a 50/50 split between the couples for using the car for personal things.
(emphasis mine)

In other words, the parents account for 50% of the car use and the kids the other 50%.
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:52 AM   #7
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Tough question. You put the first 40,000 miles on it, so the wear and tear on the motor, transmission, front end, etc for that period should be on you. And major work done on the car will be to improve the value of your asset since you will retain ownership. I think that it might be fair for both you and your DD/SIL to contribute say, 25 cents/mile to the vehicle fund, and all gas and maintenance (minor and major) comes out of that fund. Anything left over in the fund when you get rid of the car becomes yours to cover their half of the ongoing depreciation of the car while they're using it. Any maintenance costs that the fund isn't big enough to cover need to be negotiated but are probably mostly your responsibility, since the first 40,000 miles of wear and tear were for your sole benefit. I mention 25 cents as roughly half of the IRS mileage allowance, which reflects your roughly 50:50 use now. You could talk over whether this is the right amount, as a 2009 Malibu is probably less than an "average" IRS vehicle.
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Old 09-04-2013, 08:50 AM   #8
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This sounds like a good preface for a book titled "How and Why Communal Living Arrangements Eventually Fail". You are fretting over what is actually a fairly small amount of money, a car worth about $10,000. Too small of an issue for the living arrangement to founder on, but it will. No matter what financial division you all come up with, one or the other is going to feel that they are being taken advantage of and the other is not paying enough.

Ah, and upon re-reading the OP, I see "it is early in our living arrangement, this has worked so far". So it hasn't had time to get anybody annoyed yet. Just wait until the first time somebody runs out of gas because the OTHER guys didn't fill the tank when they took the car out.

I wouldn't worry too much about trying to come up with a "fair financial sharing program". Ask them to occasionally put gas in it for now and forget about the replacing it issue -- this living arrangement will undoubtedly be long gone by the time the car wears out.
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Old 09-04-2013, 08:51 AM   #9
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(emphasis mine)

In other words, the parents account for 50% of the car use and the kids the other 50%.
Ah, I see so net the car is ~50/50.

I guess in that case I would probably either split any out-of-pocket costs (gas, insurance, maintenance, etc) during the year 50/50. On the depreciation, I would ignore it and consider it a gift to my daughter, but I could also see daughter/SIL paying ~ 50% of the reduction in value of the car for the year as well.

Has OP checked to make sure that when they use the car that your insurance coverage applies if they were to get in an accident (liability and collision)? It might not if they are not listed as drivers and they may not have their own policies since they only have the scooter.
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Old 09-04-2013, 10:35 AM   #10
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I would tell them - "When you feel like it, fill the gas tank" and that's about it.
+2 Personally I would do this, no matter what the percentage of usage is. This is your daughter (and her DH), not a stranger.

If you do not wish to help them out in this way, and worry that they are taking advantage of you, then maybe it is time to re-think the communal arrangement.
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Old 09-04-2013, 10:44 AM   #11
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+2 Personally I would do this, no matter what the percentage of usage is. This is your daughter (and her DH), not a stranger.

If you do not wish to help them out in this way, and worry that they are taking advantage of you, then maybe it is time to re-think the communal arrangement.
+1. This seems like a possible pathway to a big bad falling out.

Ha
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