Had someone posted a huge sign in my path reading “Welcome to the wacky world of blended family finances,” would I have better anticipated what was to come?
Your blended family’s finances are irrevocably linked to two other families: that of your ex and your new partner’s ex. Let’s say the first family (yours) is contributing to the third family’s finances (your partner’s ex) via child support. And the second family (your ex) is contributing to the first family through child support, too. The first and second families share certain kid-related expenses, like extracurricular activities, schooling and prescriptions — and so do the first and third families. It’s weird.
I’ll put my cards on the table, so we can look honestly at the typical complexities of the blended family financial situation. I’ll tell you about five significant events that happened in a one-year period that would establish the foundation of my blended family’s finances for years to come:
- December My ex took a pay cut because his company was struggling through the financial crisis.
- January The man who would become my new partner got divorced, and subsequently got locked into paying one-third of his income in child support.
- June I lost my job.
- August My new partner’s ex got remarried to an affluent doctor and continued to collect child support.
- December My new partner and I joined households.
My ex’s pay cut impacted his ability to support our children after I lost my job. My new partner was now funneling money into another family that didn’t need it. Meanwhile, I started working again, but at one-third the salary I made before. There’s nothing cute about this picture, but it’s real, and it’s common.
The components of each blended family’s finances are different, but what they share are plenty of oddball elements that traditional families can’t fathom, and a sometimes-uncomfortable, very personal connection to other families.
In the coming months I’ll be writing about the ins and outs of the challenges of blended family finances, looking at solutions that my friends and I have tried — solutions that have helped us. I’ll also be talking about some of the positives of blended family finances, because yes, an upside does exist!
Have you looked at the events, both major and minor, that have led to your blended family’s finances as they stand today? What are they?