Turn back the clock to fix finances
BY AMY DICKINSON
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
2/20/13 at 1:56 AM
Dear Amy: I recently got remarried. My two sons are in college, and I have a full-time teaching job, a house that is almost paid off and a substantial nest egg. My husband is moving in with me soon but has debts from his business.
Before we were married (we were friends), I gave him $16,000 to help keep his business afloat. I don't expect repayment.
He still has $25,000 in credit card debt accrued from his business at about a 12 percent interest rate, which he will still need to pay while he is looking for work when he moves to my state.
I could sell some of my investments to pay off his credit card, but I am not sure if I should do that.
I know that together financially it would make sense to pay off a high interest bill, but I hesitate to sell investments to give him more money.
What do you think I should do? - Newlywed
Dear Newlywed: I think you should turn back the clock and have a series of important financial conversations and negotiations with your guy before you get married.
I'm going to get you started on your "postnup" conversation by suggesting questions: Who owns the home you two will share? Who is responsible for your sons' college tuition? Who is responsible for your husband's credit card debt? Are you willing to help finance a new business for him? If he gets a job, will you combine incomes? Who will handle household bills? Will you happily share your retirement savings?
A certified public accountant or financial planner can walk you through this without overwhelming you.
Also, read "It's Not You, It's the Dishes: How to Minimize Conflict and Maximize Happiness in Your Relationship," by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson (2012, Random House).
Dear Amy: The letter from "Parents With Problems" reminded me of how smart kids can be sometimes. This seventh-grader knew her parents needed professional help; she saw the lack of affection between them and she knew this wasn't right.
I realized recently that my husband and I were just about the only "happily married" couple my kids knew. That's pretty sad. - Happy Parents, Happy Kids
Dear Happy: No couple can present a seamlessly beautiful picture to the kids. But our children should see us working things through and working things out.
Send questions via email to Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.