Sasha Planting
3 minute read
19 Apr 2014
8:00 am

Playing ‘I do’ again

Sasha Planting

I have a great bunch of girl friends. They include environmentalists, doctors, stay-at-home-moms, financial whizzes, economists, teachers and journalists. They are smart and funny and great to be with.

Image courtesy stock.xchnge

But phew, some of them have the strangest taste in men. Why is it that some strong, financially independent women go for weak men? My mate Sue met this guy who seemed to tick all of her wild-child boxes – he played the sax like John Coltrane and took her on these breathtaking road trips down the Route 62 on his Harley Davidson. He was also loving and patient with her small daughter.

The next thing I knew they were living together. But soon she was paying the rent; she bought the motorbike and, I kid you not, she was paying the maintenance for his three kids.

Then the fool went and had an internet affair. Thank goodness I say. Because she has finally thrown him out.

Sadly the reality is that second marriages, or co-habitations if marriage isn’t your thing, have a higher failure rate than first marriages. So it is advisable to look before you leap.

So if a second marriage is in your sights, take time to consider the financial aspects of your new relationship.

Look at the finances

Lay your cards on the table. What are the financial circumstances of the both of you? If your future spouse is divorced with kids, there may be debt and child support payments. Are there other monthly commitments?

What you don’t want is to discover after he has parked his slippers under your bed is that he has more money going out each month than coming in.

How will you run your household budget? Decide what works best for you – a one-pot, two-pot or three-pot structure. With one pot you have a joint account and both of you pay your salaries into it. From this comes the budget for household expenditure, savings and investments.

The two-pot system sees you keeping your finances entirely separate, but splitting bills. Be careful how you do this, as it could lead to one (or both) partners feeling they are carrying too much.

The three-pot system sees you establishing a joint account while keeping your existing (separate) accounts. Deposit your salaries into the separate accounts. Then, once a month, transfer a percentage of that month’s income to the joint account.

Believe it or not, that’s the easy part.

Budgeting becomes more complex in a second marriage when you consider his kids, your kids and perhaps even kids you will have together. What if one set of kids is getting more than the other? What if your ex doesn’t keep up maintenance? Or, flip the coin over, what if your partner is retrenched? Will you contribute towards his maintenance payments?

The bottom line is that you need to understand each other’s financial obligations. That is not to say you need to take them on, but it can be tricky terrain and needs to be sensitively managed.

Other things to consider include assets and estates.

If you both own homes – will one be sold? Will you buy together?

This brings one to the question of inheritances. This is especially important if you have children from your previous marriage. Dying without a will is bad enough, but it’s doubly complicated if you are in a second marriage and there are children involved. I’ve got a story to tell you about that too – but that’s for another day.