Blended family finance matters
For some blended family couples, dealing with money issues is not a big deal; but for others, financial matters are problematic. The fact is, blended family finances matter. They matter a lot. Aside from providing food, clothing and housing for your merged families, step family finances typically entail child support and other court-ordered payments for non-custodial children, alimony, and previous debts and obligations of the parties. It takes understanding, compassion, trust, and lots of communication to manage blended family finances.
Money matters in step families too
Money matters are a common cause of marital stress, and when this stress is piled on top of the usual challenges facing a blended family couple, their relationship can suffer. Take charge of your finances and talk about your needs and goals. Set out a budget, and stick to it. Make plans for the future, and be sure to include inheritance issues and education funds. Being able to talk frankly and honestly about money matters is a basic requirement of a well-managed blended family.
Joint account or separate accounts
The question of whether to merge your investments, savings and checking accounts depends entirely on your situation and your personal preference. Some blended families throw everything into one pot, and are happy with that arrangement. Others prefer to keep finances separate for business reasons or for future distribution to children, and establish a single joint account for household expenses. The only hard and fast rule for blended family finances is that both parties agree on a totally transparent arrangement of how, when, and why money is spent or saved.
As in all areas of your marital relationship, your blended family finances call for complete honesty and candor. No matter how you rationalize it, if you hide accounts from your spouse, or buy things on the sly, you are lying to your spouse. Is it worth the risk? Betrayal under any name is hurtful and damages your relationship.
Talking money matters with the kids
Let your kids know how your blended family financial situation affects them, taking into account their ages. Explain if money is tight, and talk with them about ways to cope. Be up front about inheritance of property, insurance policies, college funds, and other matters that may or may not have changed with your remarriage. Adult step children often see their new step family as a threat to their inheritance; let them know you are still thinking of their financial futures, too.
Protect your most important asset
Be aware that money pressures can have a negative effect on your marriage, and look for ways to keep your relationship strong because it is your most important asset. Without a strong, mutually supportive bond, the two of you risk losing it all! Stay strong, and keep talking. If you need any additional help, contact The Blended and Step Family Resource Center for help.