Financial discussions should come into play early on as you are planning your blended family. If you and your spouse have put off this discussion, now is a good time to have it. Unless you have a financial plan you can both agree on, your step kids and your entire step family could become a casualty of poor money management. For some couples, money can be a tricky subject, especially if an ex-spouse had problems with spending or saving. If that was the case for either of you, it is even more important that you practice open and frank discussions about everything, money matters included.
For more detailed suggestions on talking about blended family money matters, see Chapter Four, “Financial Discussions,” in Blended Family Advice, but here are a few talking points.
Joint or separate accounts
Whether you decide on separate or joint accounts for managing your step family is entirely up to you. Some considerations for maintaining separate accounts include separate incomes from working outside the home, and single-party expenditures or receipts such as child support, insurances and health care costs, tuitions, etc. Many blended families put it all into one pot and simply ladle payments out as needed, and that works fine for them. Some keep separate accounts for child-related expenses, but deposit the net balance of their income into a joint blended family account. The specifics of how you handle the blended family finances are not as important as being open and above board, and fair to everyone. One party does not want to feel as if his or her money is being squandered on step kids or an ex-spouse. As with every aspect of blended family living, communication is crucial.
Creating a budget
In order to manage your blended family finances, it is important to know what you have to work with, and what obligations you have. Many of us managed this information in our heads while we were single, or a single parent, it may have worked pretty well. Things are different now. Now there are two partners involved, and perhaps two sets of step kids and two ex-spouses who may either add to or subtract from your blended family pot. Making an effective financial plan for your step family begins with a written and complete budget that includes virtually all financial receipts, payments, and debts. Again, see Blended Family Advice on financial discussions for help in designing your budget, or go online to see many excellent examples of family budgets.
Make a formal financial planning agreement
Many financial planning has begun utilizing the “Blended Family Financial Planner,” part of the blended family bonus material in Blended Family Advice. It begins with a Blended Couple Financial Pledge, which sets out the basis for a successful blended family financial plan.
- Together, we will figure out a way to meet all of our financial needs
- Together we will provide for our blended family
- We will honestly discuss our goals and dreams
- If something isn’t working, we will come together and re-discuss our plan
When the two of you work together to make a serious financial plan for the benefit of your blended family, you help take your goal of a successful and solvent blended family from wish to reality.