Finance: The Second Time Around

Be a lot savvier this time, with expert financial advice.
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Getting Started

Money Fight

Q: How are your financial concerns in a second marriage different? A: "You're going to be more self-sufficient, more experienced. You may have a more sizeable salary and more accumulated assets, not to mention children from your previous marriage. So you'll need to protect those assets and be sure to remain independent."

Q: What's the biggest mistake women make? A: "In my experience, it's letting their new husband handle all the finances. This can even happen with successful businesswomen. They lose the independence they once had, and are now back in the dependent mode."

Q: So how do you get the best start? A: "By talking and planning with your fiance -- well before you get married -- how you will pay for joint expenses and where savings will be kept. You should also draw up legal documents such as wills, trusts, and prenuptial agreements that outline how assets will be protected for you and your children upon death or divorce. Also find out how finances were handled in his last marriage, as this can be very telling."

Q: How do you bring this up? A: "Say, 'We're going to have a financial exchange. We'll exchange net-worth statements, credit reports, and credit-card bills, what we owe and what we earn. And we'll create a budget together.' Write out your expectations and have him write his, then swap them. It's good for you to have this on paper, because you're figuring it out for yourself."

Q: What if you suspect your fiance is hiding something? A: "Ask him point-blank if he has told you everything. If you still get the feeling that he's hiding something, you should think twice about marrying him. You could hire a private detective to check into his financial situation -- prospective employers sometimes do this. Telling him that you intend to do this may be enough to make him come clean. If it turns out that he is hiding something, ask why. Is he simply embarrassed about some debts, and the situation can be resolved? Did he grow up in a household where no one talked about finances? If he still hesitates to tell all, don't marry him."

Continued on page 2:  Financial Agreements


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