In America today, studies show that about 16% of children live in "blended families" where there is a step-parent, step-sibling, or half-sibling.1 Additionally, some families may include partners who both have children from other relationships, one partner has children the other none, a partner(s) that may be raising non-biological children, or even family members who are helping raise another relative's child. When thinking about the many changing facets of family, and entering a blended family, it is important to consider the financial impact for each partner.
Challenges of Blended Family Finances
Blending finances from you and your partner can be a tricky situation. You may be used to handling all the finances or taking a backseat while your previous partner handled everything. One key item to keep in mind is your household finances may not operate the same way as before - but making sure that you and your partners expectations match is crucial.
A few common issues that may arise when merging household finances are:
- Hiding Debt or Income:
About 30% of U.S. couples have experienced some form of financial infidelity.2 Covering up financial obligations or income can lead to mistrust in the relationship.
- Estate Planning:
It can be uncomfortable to talk about updating documentation about your estate like wills, power of attorney, trusts, etc. However, if you fail to update these documents, you run the risk of excluding new family members from your new relationship.
- Spending Arrangements:
You will need to discuss your spending arrangements. Will one partner pay for all the children's daily living costs? Both? Or will someone besides the two parents be covering these costs?
Establish a Budget
A good budget starts with a strong foundation of communication and it's uncomfortable to have the "money-talk". Creating a budget will help your household to stay on track with expenses and hold you and your partner accountable to prepare for the future. You may want to discuss education expenses like what type of education you want to provide for the children? Will they participate in extracurricular activities? Or maybe there is a family trip you would like to take in a year, and you want to start preparing. Whatever the expense may be, you'll be happy you took the time to build a plan that will ensure a happy future.
It's important to have common goals for a family and the finances and to communicate those goals. You may assume you and your partner have the same goals, however once a conversation is had, you may be surprised that you have different goals. After you set your family goals, one way to keep on track is to create a vision board. This could be a family project idea that everyone can be involved with, and all points of view can be heard.
The above suggestions are only a few that can impact the family financially. With adequate and proactive planning with your Private CFO®, the financial impacts can be discussed with all partners involved, while also helping reduce the emotional and life impacts these changes have on the family.