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2nd Wife Financial Tips (This Bears Reposting!)

thinkthrice's picture

Found this on a forum here and it bears repeating/reposting:

* A smart woman will not acquiesce to unreasonable requests from their partner. If you have to move 30 minutes further from work, sell your home and live in their home for no reason other than they don't want to move, even to a new home, chances are it is a red flag for the relationship. In marriage, most things are up for discussion and compromise. If he will not compromise before marriage, chances are he will also not compromise after.

(In my case Chef was DETERMINED to "move closer to the skids" so I ended up selling my beloved house to move into a dump/gut rehab--big mistake!)

* Agree on a budget before you even move in. Don't promise to pay half when you don't even know what half means. Spell it out clearly. You will pay half utilities and mortgage, but his 4 wheeler payment is not in the deal. You will pay your own car payment and he will pay his. His generosity to his children will come from his savings and not household funds. Or maybe you don't really care. Either way, know what you are getting into before you get into it.

(Chef:  what's a bu-d-get?)

* Women sometimes make less money than men on the surface. However, when you deduct child support, alimony and mandatory life insurance payments, the second wife may find that she is kicking in more than her partner. Make a budget with all deductions (child support, past marriage debts, etc) so you BOTH know how much you have to work with. Know exactly what his obligations are before you marry him so you will know what you can live with.

(Yep SM often gets stuck with the bill--I made this mistake as well)

* Child support that you receive for your child is just that... For your child. Do not use it to finance a home. It isn't household income beyond your ex-husband's portion of what it costs to raise the child you share. It isn't to pay your husband's child support or to pay for a boat he has to have. It is for YOUR child, not his. Resist the urge to pay his support for him or give more to your stepchildren to try to level the playing field based on an increase you get for your children. They have two parents, too. If you don't "need" the money for your children, put it in the bank for their college education. That will come sooner than you might think.

(Although not applicable in my case this is spot on!)

* Do not empty YOUR child's college fund to pay for anything short of a major medical emergency. If your partner promises to help the child with school if you just let him use the money you have saved for college to buy a truck for him or foot the bill for his older child's college education, tell them they can help most by honoring your request that the money not be spent at all. It isn't your partner's money, it isn't your money. It is your child's money and should be protected. If you feel you cannot say no to your partner, put the money into a certificate of deposit or into a trust for your child that prohibits withdrawal for any reason but college expenses. If you cannot say no to your partner, he is probably also the wrong man for you.

(Bingo Again!  Not applicable in my case, however, the Girhippo emptied all 3 skids' college funds before the ink was dry on the mediation agreement)

* Look before you leap when it comes to having more children. If your dream is to be a SAHM to your children, be aware that your husband's financial obligation to his first family may very well mean that your 8 week old infant is in daycare because you have to work full time, while your husband's ex-wife is sitting at home when her kids are in school. Oh, and YOU have to pay all the costs for your child, because your husband doesn't make enough to pay his part of household bills and child support/alimony. If your husband is overpaying child support because he agreed that he wanted his kids's mother to be able to stay home with them, you will pay for that choice. And so will your child. In many states, having another child doesn't affect an existing child support order.

(Another excellent point!)

* When you combine assets, you give your husband's ex-wife access to your financial information. You may black your name off the tax return that she requests at a child support review, but if she knows that your husband made 50K last year and your tax return is for a total amount of 150K, she will know that you are earning a 6 figure income. If that is not acceptable to you, make sure money never combines until the day child support ends. A clear division of money has saved many men from an unfair child support increase.


* Do not buy a home with someone to whom you are not married, particularly if they are still married to their first wife. His wife, though she has contributed NOTHING to your home, can be granted a portion of the equity in your home because it becomes a marital asset in her marriage to your SO. Many women have found themselves in the not-so-unique position of a nasty breakup with a SO and found that the only right they have is as a co-owner of the property, not as a partner, even if they have lived with their partner for a decade. Many women have also found that they must take a HELOC or refinance a property to pay off the first wife. Don't put yourself in that position.

(I say NO JOINTLY OWNED Property EVER, but that is just me)

* If you pay off his debts, get a signed contract stating that he will repay you, that he acknowledges it was a loan and has a stated schedule for repayment. If he will not sign, do not give him the money. Do not fall for tears, manipulation or threats that he will break up with you because "you don't trust him." Nor should you. Someone who has no intention of repaying you, very often will resort to manipulation. And we women fall for it. We don't think like loan sharks and sometimes, sadly, we need to.

(Always get it in writing!)

* If you have sold your home to invest in his or to buy a home together, make sure your investment is protected with an agreement that states in the event of a divorce, you get your initial down payment back, plus half the equity in the home. If you make improvements to his home, insist you be added to the deed. You do not need to refinance in many states to do this. Keep careful track of what you spend and make sure that YOUR name is on work orders and materials purchases. Pay for those improvements out of your account as well. If possible, make him sign a promissary note for each improvement so that it is acknowledged that YOU paid for it.

(Once again, this is where NO JOINT PROPERTY EVER comes in to play)

* When you are planning your retirement, make sure that your IRA and any investments prior to the marriage remain in your name only. Any inheritance from your family should remain in your name alone. And make sure you have a will that clearly and concisely states what you wish to be done not just with your grandmother's ruby ring, but with your assets. While you may be fine with everything going to your husband, trusting him to make sure that upon his death your children receive their share of your estate, his heirs may very well feel differently. And if you have no will, you have no say. There are options, such as leaving property to your partner and a life insurance policy equaling your share of the property to your children, but you must speak to an attorney in your state to know what your state will require. No will is a recipe for disaster.


* What you buy for your partner's children is a gift. You will not get it back, you may not even be thanked for it. Cashing out your retirement, mortgaging your home or selling a vacation property to pay for a stepchild's college education, first car or wedding is likely to not result in anything but you being less a cabin by the lake. If your partner throws a fit because you don't feel like refinancing the house to pay for his daughter's wedding, your partner is taking advantage of your love for him. Their desire to provide generously for their children is a good thing, but it should not come at the expense of your own future.

(Anything You Do For The Skids WILL LIKELY NOT Be Appreciated)

And for the love of G-d, ladies, remember that NO is not a dirty word. If you cannot afford it, you feel you are being taken advantage of, you see that your husband or boyfriend is spending you into oblivion... Speak up and say no. Don't wait, as my friend Anne did, until the day you notice that your child's college fund is drained and the money you got from the sale of your home is spent. While it is "only" money, it is only YOUR money.



JanRebecca's picture

We keep all finances separate - separate bank accounts etc but are you saying that we should not be filing taxes jointly? We should be doing separate filings?


ESMOD's picture

Only if you don't want his EX to have access to information regarding your income.  She has no claim to it, but it can sometimes be taken into account in a round the way fashion in certain cases.  Like if you and your DH decide that He will leave his high paying job to stay home with the kids and just do a little freelance work... the judge may assume that you are paying the majority of living expenses and still find your DH liable to pay high CS.  The judge will see the reduction in income as a choice you made as a financial couple and will say that his obligations to his kids shouldn't be diminished as a result.

In other situations.. it really doesn't make a huge difference I guess... just that the EX can figure out what you make.

ESMOD's picture

Yes!  All this is great advice and particularly important if the 2nd wife has kids of her own by a prior relationship or even in the current 2nd wife status.

I know that it is hard to say no to a SO when they are looking to you to help pay for things.  I personally lost a lot of money to an EX that was basically an abusive loser.  At the time, you don't realize it's bad..until it gets bad.  But, a true partner won't guilt or force you to spend money that you don't want to spend.

Aniki's picture

My DH and I were talking the other day and you could have knocked me over with a feather when he said that he would be willing to move if *I* wanted to take a job elsewhere and move. I swear that I sat there with my mouth hanging open for a solid 2 minutes before I stammered out, "You're willing to move away from the skids?!" To which he replied, "Well, YES, baby. You're the one I'm spending the rest of my life with."

BTW, we have always had separate finances but have loaned each other small amounts here and there (no more than $200) which is always paid back with the next paycheck.

skatermom's picture

I wanted to move back into my kid's school district which was different than Skids district.  I told DH this was not negotiable, I was moving back there with or without him.  He agreed to move and low and behold less than 2 mos later BM and her fiance broke up and she bacame homeless, so we got the skids full time and enrolled them in the new school district.  Everything happens for a reason

Cover1W's picture

I should have done the note with the down payment for the house...however, that clearly came from only my account and only in my name, before we were married (yep, but that was OK with me, the house buying thing). 

I do file my taxes 'married but file single.'  No way do I want that mixed up.  And I claim the house deductions and donation deductions, period. 

And I have my updated will partially done, but I hate the form I have for it, I need to find an updated will worksheet stat.  At least it's all written down so my intent is clear, but I need to finish it.

Excellent post.

dysfunctionally_blended's picture

Great advise! Here is a question...

In the instance that there are joint finances. Both contribute, not equally as SM and DH chose to have SM part time as it worked out better for everyone. 

SM has a dead beat BD. CS just started. 

DH feels that should be joint money to benefit everyone. 

SM understands however skids have 2 parents and feels CS should get put away for bios schooling. 

DH feels that if that is the case it should be spilt for schooling as he doesn't have that ability supporting SMs bios. 

Thoughts on this one?

ndc's picture

In this case, is DH saying that he can't put money aside for the skids' education because he's using all of his money paying household expenses, including the expenses of the bios?  In that case, I'm somewhat inclined to agree with him, as the CS is intended for the current support of the bios, and if it was used for that purpose, then DH would not be paying those expenses and would therefore have additional money to save for the skids' future.  But a lot depends on the actual numbers, the unpaid contributions of SM to the household and the opportunity cost of her working part time, etc.  If the situation were reversed, what would your thoughts be?

dysfunctionally_blended's picture

Yes, that is his argument. And I agree, to an extent. 
However, I feel that because SM contribution is lowered based on the needs primarily of DHs (not saying everyone doesn't benefit but it would not need to be a necessity) that this would not be necessary as SM would be contributing equally.

This is a tough call. Because if reversed I would feel the exact same way as the DH. And I always try to put myself in other's situations. 

However I also feel that the DH pays an exhorbinant amount of CS himself which takes away from the household. And if that were not the case he would have the ability to save for future education. 

My feelings are, and although I understand the argument, that both DH and SM start at an equal spot in contribution (taking into consideration that the loss of income on SM side was a joint decision and solely based on DH needs), which relates to SM being financially responsible for her children in the household. Same for DH, he is contributing equally financially (offsetting his CS with SM loss of income). Anything extra, either from SM side or DH side should be used for the child intended. 

ESMOD's picture

If DH is paying a huge chunk of CS then how can the SM being at home be solely for his benefit?  I understand it was an agreement they made together but would SM's income really have been a 100% match to his...even after his CS obligation is paid?  After his CS obligation is met what is the relative split of their financial contributions to the home then?  Obviously there are shades of gray but if SM's kids also benefit from her being available at home too (full time? 50/50?) then i do see that CS would be fair game to put in the communal pool of money from which the household pays for all kid's expenses.  By that token, the CS could be considered going all towards SM's kids while any money put into a college fund was coming from DH's now freed up paycheck... and wouldn't it be fair if ALL kids got that benefit including SM's?

ESMOD's picture

DH feels that if that is the case it should be spilt for schooling as he doesn't have that ability supporting SMs bios. 


I followed this question until the last point..  I will rephrase my understanding of the first part.

There is a couple that both have bio kids from previous relationships.

In the current relationship, the couple has decided that the SM will work only part time because it frees her time up to care for all the kids (hers and his) and to be available at home.. and clean, cook errands etc....  They pool all their money and bills are paid for the household and all kids from this central pool of money.  SM as a result is technically providing less financial support for the household but her other duties make up for it (maybe she would otherwise not have a big salary anyway and cost of childcare etc.. is saved so it net net works out better to them)

Now, the SM does have an EX who was supposed to be paying CS all along but wasn't.  Now he has started to make those payments.  The man wants her to pool her money into the joint pot while she wants to put it in her children's college savings instead.  She argues that because her DH and his EX both make good money that they will both be contributing to their bio children's education while she doesn't have those resources individually and knows her EX won't do it because he is a deadbeat.

Now the last line is where I am getting fuzzy.  Did her DH counter that then he thinks the windfall CS should be split between ALL the kids (hers and his) because since he is carrying a bigger financial burden, he can't save even for his own kid's college?

I answer based on that last assumption.

First.  Whatever SM's EX or her DH's EX will contribute to their children is irrelevant.  If SM has a loser EX... then her kids can expect nothing from him.  If DH's EX is generous, it is not up to SM and her current DH to make things equitable for her children.  So, it is likely that SM's kids will end up with fewer resources for college and DH's bios more.  Those are the breaks and no need for them to be the same.

However, what I do see as being correct is that IF there is any money put into a college fund by SM and her DH for their collective kids, it should be equitable within their own family unit.  I don't think it would be fair to penalize SM's kids by not allowing her kids to get the same amount from their joint pooled resources.  She is working and earning less as part of an agreement that her DH is willing to carry a larger burden for the household...including costs related to her kids potentially. 

So, what to do with this windfall CS (that may or may not continue given her EXes past behavior)?  I agree that the money should go into the pooled pot and if they agree to use it as "found money" and save it for ALL the kids educations in equal shares.. that is fair.  It's fair because as it stands without the CS... neither SM nor DH have money to save for their kid's educations.  DH is carrying a portion of SM's financial load in the house because it works better for them as a family if she is home.  If DH weren't doing that he COULD save for his kid's education.

So I think you put the money in education savings for all the kids and they get an equal crack at it.. doesn't matter whether the SM ex ponies up or whether the DH's Ex ponies up either.


futurobrillante99's picture

If SM is receiving child support from deadbeat dad, that money is to be used to contribute to supporting the child which includes housing, food, clothing and medical. If the SM is able to cover all those things with HER income, then CS should be saved for CHILD, not added to the household budget.

IF the stepfather has helped suppport the child for any extended period of time, then some of the funds should be used to compensate for that.

Siemprematahari's picture

I absolutely LOVE this post and AMEN to all the above. I do agree that whatever you give your step kids is considered a gift and they may NEVER appreciate it. Our finances are separate and I have taken the necessary precautions as far as that's concerned. I have also made a point to never cosign on a car, house, loan, refinance, or empty out a college fund for SD. I have wasted a lot of money on SD & I say wasted because she couldn't care less when she was younger but I learned quickly and will never waste another penny if I can help it again.

I can't stress enough to have a will in place and make sure whatever fiances, property, etc you have are clearly stated for your children or whoever you want that to go to. Never leave anything up for chance.

Thank you for sharing!

Exjuliemccoy's picture

There's a lot of valuable info to be minded from old posts. Let's keep recycling them!

mro's picture

I think I dodged a lot of bullets by doing the following:

Waited to date until kids were grown

Waited to marry until his youngest's last FAFSA was filed

Kept all finances separate except for one small joint account for fun money

Put all assets POD or TOD to my kids, and he has done the same with his

Wrote a new will

Did a prenuptial agreement (his idea - though I think it was rather a waste of money)