Deciding whether or not to combine finances with your partner is a huge decision. There are so many factors that go into making this decision… does one of you make substantially more money than the other? Does one of you have substantially more debt than the other? In a blended family, just the thought of child support (and sometimes even alimony) is enough of a reason for a future stepmom to say NO WAY to combining finances as a stepfamily.
This topic comes up all the time in our closed Facebook community for stepmoms. Stepmoms want to know what the norm is. They want validation that their gut feelings on combining versus not combining are valid. Most of all, they want to know how or if their money will impact child support or the custody agreement.
Combining Finances in a Stepfamily: Should I Bank Jointly with my Partner?
Personally, the “issue” of combining finances was never an issue for me. My husband and I combined finances when we moved in together, and it has been smooth sailing ever since. I knew that according to our state and local laws, only his income would be factored into any child support adjustments to follow.
I knew he paid child support, but I knew I was bringing my own debt into the relationship as well (cue: the Student Loan Sigh). We discussed finances beforehand, knew each other’s credit scores, and set our goals for the future.
To us, we are a team. No burden, financial or otherwise, is solely one of ours to bear. Our money is our money, it’s that simple.
According to marriage.com, money is the #2 cause of divorce. Let that sink in. Finances are the #2 cause of divorce! To me, that is devastating news… and is totally avoidable!
I am not naïve to the fact there is no right or wrong answer to the combining finances debacle. What works for my family may not work for the next. But to be transparent, this is one topic I have a hard time seeing the other side of.
We utilize a bills spreadsheet, showing all of our monthly bills. Child support is listed on the spreadsheet right next to the mortgage. When a payday comes, we pay our bills first. Then, we decide how we want to divide up whatever is left (savings account, saving for a trip or home project, etc.). Whatever is left after that is our spending money.
We get whatever we want with our spending money. If I want to go out to eat for lunch while I’m at work, I do it. If he wants to buy a new pair of shoes, he does it. It’s really not a big deal.
We are a middle-class couple. This is not a budgeting method that is only for the rich. This is completely attainable for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status.
It really makes me feel sick that so many couples argue about finances. I hear so often people saying that they keep accounts separate for “spending money,” but then have a third joint account for bills. Honestly, I cannot wrap my head around how people do that and consider it a fair partnership.
So let’s say you each deposit your agreed upon percentage of money into the third bank account dedicated to bills. Then you make your husband pay child support out of his spending money. Then what is he left with? Meanwhile, you have hundreds of dollars to spend however you choose? It really doesn’t make sense to me.
In my opinion, banking like that is unfair to your partner, as well as a selfish move on your part.
With that said, here are four reasons why I think you should combine finances with your partner… for better or for worse.
4 Reasons You Should Combine Finances
You are a unit.
If you believe in any small aspect of the sacred nature of marriage, then you should believe you and your partner are a team. Nothing that we own is one of ours or the other’s. Everything is ours.
Child support is just another bill.
Adopt that mindset, because that is reality. When you get married, you accept your partner for everything they are. You don’t run from someone who has $100,000 in student loan debt. You wouldn’t let student loan debt keep you from combining finances. So why is child support any different?
It’s way simpler.
You don’t have to move money around all the time. You don’t need to check this account and that account to determine who’s paying for dinner that night. It’s a time saver. The time you’re saving is time you can invest back into your family.
There is nothing to fight about.
Seriously, think about it. A payday comes, you pay your bills, stash some money away into savings or whatever other investment you are making, then the rest is your spending money. This is Basic Budgeting 101.
Like I said, I know there is not a one-size-fits-all answer for families when it comes to combining finances… but since so many of you always want to know what others are doing and why, here is my perspective on it.
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Are you desperate for help mastering your family budget? We’ve got you covered here. (This includes a budget template!)
P.S. Since we’re talking about financial planning, have you considered estate planning yet? Here are three things you need to know about blended family wills!