E4: Let’s Talk About Money | Financial Problems in Blended Families


Talking About Money with Your Partner - Blended Family

In this episode, Daun and Travis talk about money issues and finances in the context of the blended family. Spouses in blended families run into special concerns when it comes to money decisions. There are conflicts in how money is earned, how it is spent, and which kids get the priority.

In this episode, we cover the conversations that need to happen, the logistics around savers and spenders, and good ways to support and keep one another accountable within the blended family.

Money is a big issue and financial conversations between blended family partners require adulting.

Let’s Talk About Money!

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Read The Transcript

Okay, we are on episode 4, 4 and you know what? That is right, It comes after three. Finance finances, that’s always a fun thing. Money. Show me the money. I mean that’s the whole reason they got married to you. The I heard that. Yeah, that’s what some people have said actually. I think you’ve heard that too. I have and you’re sadly mistaken money money. But I am from independently wealthy beyond my wildest dreams and that’s why um that’s why I remembered you. That’s right. Yeah. Perfect. So, okay, end of the session, that’s it.

Go find a way to become independently wealthy and you won’t have any financial problems, although you may need a prenuptial, you’re already married. It doesn’t matter. So here we are again. Yeah. And if you’re already married then I guess we should probably talk a little bit about that. That’s what we’re doing, what we just said. True. No, feel free to google us up. Um Anyway, okay, so we’re talking about money and finances in the context of a blended family here on the marriage connection. So what do we, what are the biggest problems do you think that face blended families in?

Financial matters are final? Um, making money? Oh no. Now, actually, communication about money probably biggest, especially if blended families and whether you’re already married or you’re getting married or whatever. You already have two. Thanks. Right. One are both of them have been recording themselves. So okay, so what’s your money is your money? What’s my money is my money and we get married and now and now it’s all my money. It’s all your money. No, no, that’s not how it works. Well that’s what people think, but that’s not how it works because I have responsibilities for my money.

I pay child support. So I have to care of the, you get child support so that kind of like, and we try to set that aside to use that for your daughter and so you know, but as far as like income and getting the bills paid and things like that, this is something that we sat down and did months before we got married, four months before we got married. We talked about, well are we going to um have one big account, Are we going to have a whole lot of little separate accounts.

They were just, they were going to have one account for the household and then you have a spending account and I have a spending account that’s actually what we decided to go with. Right. So I think, yeah, I agree with you that communication communication is the biggest problem or the biggest challenge that has. So we all have these other life issues that we have to deal with. There’s parenting, especially in a blended family have Children yet and you’re just getting married for the first time then you don’t have that stressor but parenting is a huge one.

There’s many challenges that are involved in the day today and there’s communication around that. There’s communication about schedules. There’s communication about household chores specifically with money? I would say that the biggest issues that come up are around spending for biological Children versus step Children and the priorities and how you’re going to set that up. And then also, like you said, you’re coming to the marriage with already a household that’s set up. So it’s not like you’re getting married young and you’re starting out and you’re growing together, you have a whole household over here that’s running and functioning and has needs and you know, has income and expenses and then this household has income and expenses.

And so when you blend that all together, you have to decide how are we going to manage all of these different things together? How is it going to be prioritized? Right. And I think one of the things that we did do very well is set up, um those conversations in the very beginning, very early into meeting one another probably within two months or so. Maybe before that. It was pretty cool. The dog is going to get a piece of food and bringing it over here and eating it to be near us.

So I’m sorry, you can’t see that driving me. Okay, alright, focus focus. You’re not here for that. Okay, so, um, the, the issues that have to be decided for us and for other couples or families is how are you going to, what, what is your together your functional approach your philosophy towards money and first of all does when you’re dating someone, that’s like a major thing to be looking out for. Right, okay. How does my how do how does my thoughts about money and where how I think money should be used?

How much I think should be saved? What are discretionary expenses, necessary expenses? And how well does that match up with another person? Right. So if all of that is discussed and you’re aware of where the other person is at, especially in the dating time frame, then you can be like, you know, I don’t think this is for me, you’re a great person and this is great, right? So like for an example, yeah, dating somebody and you tend to be a saver new money into savings, investment stuff like that. Mhm.

Say you’re don’t spend anything, but you tend to do window shopping, maybe go to a thrift store and stuff like that and then you’re dating somebody and they are going out and buying all of the finer things without a cure in the world that might cause a little bit of stress, especially if you don’t know, you know what they do or it is that they’re making and things like that, you know, you probably don’t get into until much later into the relationship, right? Right? When you’re spending you know, day to day time, right?

So another issue that can come up is when there is a big discrepancy between what one of partners made in income and what the other one makes in, right. And so that’s something that definitely comes up, I think in the comments, blended families and they’re one of the partners may be accustomed to living at a much simpler lifestyle where the other person has had, you know, discretionary spending budget and feels like you said that that you know, vacations are necessary, not discretionary or vice versa, vacations aren’t necessary by the way, I agree, I agree, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money on, but you can spend a lot of money on a vacation.

It just kind of depends on where you’re at, right? So I think the first step is bringing all of those things to the table and communication and laying that all out. So in the context of a blended family, mhm can’t just be, you know, we met fell in love and everything was great and bliss happened and we got married and we started a family because we traveled all over the world, right? Because it’s just not reality, there’s so many functional piece that have to together as a part of the whole puzzle and so it comes way more of a conscious decision as to whether or not you’re going to do the work that’s necessary and the person you’re with is willing to do the work necessary To bring all of that together into one picture. Right?

Right, Right. And, and sometimes um you have outside influences that are going to cause disruptions with that too, you had mentioned earlier about how much we’re going to be spending difference step Children and biological Children and things like that. So some other things that could come up as things like sports where if the x you know all of the Children. Yeah. So like if my ex wants the kids to go to sports and sign up for all these sports and everything like that, but I don’t have the money then she’s going to have pay for it all.

But if she’s expecting me to pay for half of it, then we need to have a a sit down conversation and I’d be like, I don’t have that money, I can’t do this if you want the kids to do this and you’re going to have to do it yourself. Now on the other hand, the kids are wanting to do something and we have funds to do that. But the other the exes don’t have the funds, then I think it’s our responsibility to ensure that we were able to participate in, right?

Even if so it’s really not about money unless it’s about the money. Right? So if the money is available, then, you know, having conversations with a co parent that’s not part of the home that’s involved. Well, you have to pay your sent and I will pay my 50% or whatever your arrangement is in your in your parenting agreement. Um, then that’s not functional conversation if you have the money available. Right. Right. Right. So one of the best things that I think that our approach is that I’ve seen and it’s the approach that we take like you kind of alluded to earlier is we have taken all of the, mm hmm.

All of the expenses that we have. So the monthly expenses, the mortgage, um, cars the any debt that we have groceries, utilities, all that stuff. And then we put that together, complete the full set of finances that means or the expenses that need to be um paid during a monthly timeframe. And we set up one account as a joint account that has all of that that had cold enough money, enough resources for all of that come out of that. And so there’s a bit of a cushion in there.

But generally, um, we, we set aside that money into that account and that’s what that account is used for. It’s not used for spending or any discretionary items. And the way that we set was we took a look at how much you’re making and how much I’m making. And we took that percentage. And so Like say I’m making 75% of the incoming 20 1%. Right. So I am providing 75% of pay the bills and stuff. There’s pain. And we also included, I believe extracurricular activities we did in some of that. Right.

So that account for things that we couldn’t live without. So if you decide as a couple that vacations are something you can’t live without and you want to have that money in there, then our suggestion is to keep that all in an account called bills. Now, whether you put that in a savings account so it earns more interest or not is completely up to you and how much money you have flowing in and flowing out. You can keep that kind of income in a separate account and a savings account or a cd or something like that if you wanted to earn more interest on it.

So then beyond that. Right? So um what if I understood you right correctly, what you said was that we take the total amount of that. So say it’s, you know, $6000. Then we say, okay, well you may this month, this is how much income you bring in a month, this is how much income I bring in a month. We take that out and we divide the income um that comes in by the expenses and that gives us a percentage for each. Right? Like you said, if I made 25% of the income coming in and technically I would be responsible for 25 of the, of that total expense of the bill.

So I’m responsible for putting 25% of my income, I’m sorry, up to 25 into that account. Right more. You can and then I would be 75%. Exactly. Right? Or vice versa, depending on who’s the major breadwinner. Right. Right. So beyond that, then one of the things that was very important to us was um having because we came from separate households and we’re used to being in control of our own finances and making all of the decisions about where we spend money and how we spend money. We wanted to be able to keep our keep a separate account. Right?

So that I have my own account that holds the amount over what I’m responsible for to the bills account. So anything that I make that is in excess of the bills account goes into my account and vice versa. And so then from those accounts is where we take our discretionary items. So right, so if we want to go out to eat or we want to go to a concert or we want to do something extra special with the kids or whatever. If it’s not a regular monthly item, then we Discuss Together.

Okay, well, you know what you got going on in your account. This is kind of what we want to do. It’s going to cost $300. How can we make that work? Okay, well, I’ll pay for it this time. Okay, well I’ll pay for whatever or we just will um you know, put that, put it together, it doesn’t have to be really like at least for us it doesn’t have to be completely line item but we’re not very yes, we’re kind of flexible people so it’s just like okay well whatever, you know I’ll do it and then so say I spend, you know, I say well I’ll cover it and then later in the month I’m like oh I want to buy these shoes and then I’ll just be like these shoes and he’ll be like okay here whatever, just use my card right now.

One thing that we did and I would highly recommend you do this is that you guys set a limit even for discretionary funds? Okay so anything over this X. Amount of dollars we need to communicate, we need, It was $100. So if something is $99, I don’t have to say anything, I don’t have to ask. I will but I don’t have to, you know we are we are in so much conversation with one another that if there’s an expense coming up then most likely the other person, one of the other of us is going to know about it, right?

And so it’s not really, you know you said ask permission but that’s not even really what it is, it’s more like, hey, you know I really saw I need a new pair of jeans and the jeans I want $110 so you’re cool with that. Right, yep okay cool, no problem. Right, But again, we’re very flexible, we are and understanding and there’s others that aren’t, no, there aren’t they aren’t they aren’t. You have to meet your other hand where they’re at, right? If you’re more of a flexible type of a person and they aren’t, they’re more controlling and stuff, you need to have a little conversation with.

Okay, I kind of like to have a little more freedom with what I’m spending. So where’s the amount that I can take here? Where you’re not going to go? B sc that bat bleep crazy. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. You know just like in a a first marriage, right, you still run into issues that are unresolved around finances. Some um people, some marriage partners um like to be very controlling of the money like you just said and I think that in general those types of issues are, those types of financial issues come up less in a blended family.

Just for the pure fact that most blended families are coming together of two established people. And so you have much bigger problems with parenting and Children and all the different relationships that you have to manage, then you do about not having any money because when do you argue the most about money when there is no money? Right? And so generally by the time you know, you’re in a blended family situation, you have hopefully established yourself long enough to be able to have not be in that position in life, You know what I mean?

So it’s not, you’re no longer living paycheck paycheck. Now that very well may be the way that it is for your family. And so then finances maybe more of an issue for you than for some others. And so I think really it’s just with finances. Um, there there has to be trust in that what the other person, what the other person with your partner is doing, what their intentions are, intentions are, are positive. Their behavior and actions may not show what their intentions are and they may not be aware of that, right?

Um, and so part of standing up for yourself and being an adult in a marriage relationship is to be able to tell the truth about that to that. So you know, um do you have communicated with me when we’re getting to a certain level, you’re like, I’m starting to get really nervous because I’ve been where I have no money and I’m never gonna do that again. So we need to do something to bring in some more money because I’m starting And you know what? We could have $10,000 in the bank and she’s still like that.

Hi. So you know we have triggers, right? We have those triggers and so it is about bringing out where you know, it’s about being curious about, About where that person is coming from, right? So moving beyond the conversation about, you know, you spend $100 on purses every month or whatever to why do you feel like that’s important, right? Or shoes or tools or whatever it is. You know, there might be multiple reasons why that person or your partner feels the need to do that and really what resolves the issue is not talking about what, what’s being done about the logistics, Like, okay, well this month you spent $213.

15 on this particular item or on these items on boots or whatever. And then, You know, and last month it was 300 and the month before that, you know, it’s about moving beyond that and finding out why I mean, so like if somebody has a shoe fetish you, it’s totally hypothetical then if they’re out and they’re spending $200 a month on shoes and they’ve already got like 15 or 20 pairs of shoes. Hmm. Somebody that we know my sister. Yeah. So, but anyway, that’s his money, He’s single, so he can do that.

But if, if you’re in a relationship, if you’re married with kids and responsibilities, you may not be able to do that. So before you continue on with something that you’ve been doing regularly, you know, without thinking as a single person or something like that, you may have to check yourself and go wait a minute, I can’t do that anymore. This money could be used in other areas like, you know, food. Well not just that, I mean there’s right, so if together you sit down, like we talked about in our goal planning episode, if you sit down and you talk about, okay, well our goals are to take, you know the kids on a couple of different trips this year and we want to go on a couple of trips this year.

Okay, well I can buy three pairs of shoes or I can work towards this goal and so then it becomes more about, alright, you bought six pairs of shoes that cost $80 apiece and we still haven’t saved quite enough money to do these trips. So it’s not About in in the relationship or in the communication saying, Hey How come you spent $700 on shoes when we’re supposed to be doing X. Y. Z. It’s about saying. So we talked about this and it seems like you weren’t really invested in this whole traveling idea.

Can you tell me more about that? Because you’re you’ve bought these shoes, which I understand you like shoes and you’re free to do whatever you want with your spending money? But this is what we talked about doing together. So let’s revisit that and talk together about how why are you making that choice and how do I feel about you making that choice? So maybe we need to reassess our goals, Maybe the person who is spending money on shoes needs to accept some accountability from their partner about, Hey, I have a problem spending money on shoes.

So then you could set up a goal or communication trigger together to be like, okay, whenever I’m looking at a pair of shoes, I promise that I will send you a text message because then you have some accountability. It’s not so that the other person then can give you permission right to buy the shoes. It’s more than of that support in being a team. And another thing that you could do as a team is set a cool off period. So you’re, all these shoes are so awesome.

I want to buy them. Um, okay, going to wait 24 hours, Wait 24 hours and if I still feel the same way, then I’m gonna go get right right. Yeah. Yes, that is that good way to do it. I think one of the things that is very important, that would be way on the no no list. He’s lying or hiding any sort of purchases or extra money I guess. Right. Yeah, I guess. But you know, spending money that you um, that in a way that you are unable or feel that you can’t account for is only going to damage your relationship and yourself if you’re feeling guilty because you went out and spent money, there’s a deeper issue behind that and you might want to go counseling, sit down and talk with your significant other and figure out what’s going on because you should not feel guilty for going out and spending money, especially especially if it’s discretionary.

So there’s boundaries that are around people that are, you know, partners that have a tendency to be the spenders. I think they’re also, we should touch on the fact that there needs to be boundaries around people who are the savers. Yes, absolutely. So what kinds of conversations end up looking like? Um, well, hey dear, I think maybe we should go out to eat tonight. We just went out to eat last month. You know, we can’t do that because we have, we have to save up for this whole trip that we’re going to be doing in three years um Where we at, well we’re $5,000 over budget. Right?

So, you know, extreme obviously. But uh yeah, if if the saver is feeling stressed out because you don’t seem to be saving enough or or the spender is feeling stressed out because the saber is restricting too much. Guys definitely need to come to common ground here and say, okay, I, I like to spend money. So this is, this is what I feel that I’m entitled to or maybe not, maybe entitled is not good. But I mean if you’re making the money then yeah, you’re in as long as everything else is paid for, right?

Right. Which is why the bills account first. And that’s why if I were, so I own my own business and Travis works in the business with me part time, but if I go out and make a big sale and I bring in extra money over and above what I’m responsible too for the bills account then that money even though he would, I would offer, hey, what do you, you know, I guess we made an extra $3700 this month. So you know, what are your thoughts around what we should do with that money?

But ultimately, and I would listen to that. Ultimately, if I wanted to go spend $1000 on, you know, I don’t know, yeah shoes that would be acceptable. And so that’s where the separation occurs. I think in a blender in a blended family and, and on top of that, if that would happen I would have no room or inclination or anything to be upset with that. No. Um and I would, I wouldn’t be upset if If she brought in an extra $3,700, who you know, so where are you taking me?

Well, I would offer anyway, but regardless if I was like, hey, you know, I want to buy some new art supplies or I want to spend, you know, I want to get in an ipad or a new tv or whatever, then that is, that’s my discretion to do that because I generated that income and vice versa. Right, So a bonus or whatever. So I think the main point with finance is like you said at the very beginning. Its communication, yep. Yeah and listen and if you’re talking you’re not listening. What?

And honesty, honesty, brutal honesty in a loving way right enough. If I if you brought in $3700 And you went out and spent $1,000 on something that was that I felt was frivolous. Like she was like shoes then if even though you have the right and to be able to do that, it’s still my responsibility to come. Hey, are you sure that you’re doing okay? You just spent $1,000 on shoes and I don’t think that’s very healthy. Right? Right. And even better way beyond that is to approach it from a place of feelings. Right?

So for instance, I feel really stressed out that you went $1,000 on shoes when And we were talking about getting a fence. Right? And so that conversation that approach to the conversation can definitely open up the doorway for them for the other person myself to respond to that in feeling okay. Why does that stress you out? What is stressful about that? Well stressing me out because the likes to run away and we need the fence and you’ve already and pairs of shoes. Well, okay, but you already have X number of shoes.

So I’m just, I’m curious. I mean it’s your money but you know where’s where’s the money coming from? Pay for the fence right now I’m got this cap on my stuff. So so if we get a fence then we need to find extra money to get it or to upgrade the bathroom or whatever. So it’s just like as a communication and if you feel stressed, if you feel uncomfortable with what your significant other has done, you need to let them know that they feel that you feel uncomfortable with what they’ve done and it’s not accusatory, it’s not well you shouldn’t have done that.

You shouldn’t have gone out and spent $1,000 when we need a fence. Right? Right. You know, I am feeling really stressed out here because now I feel like I have to make money, right? And we talked about this or we haven’t about it. Um Yes, I can’t remember. Um but that’s about grounding yourself in the center and approaching the other person, not as being less than nor being higher than that. Yeah. Come to that point yet. We’ve covered a few topics and we’re going to cover a lot more.

Yes, we are. So um, it’s grounding yourself in. I am an equal with this person before you even the conversation, right? And so that way you can say, okay, we’re a team here. We’re both going in the same direction. We both already talked about having a fence for the yard or upgrading the bathroom or whatever and so how are we going to accomplish that goal together? I understand that you love shoes and that you should spend money on shoes because you made extra money. That’s totally cool.

So how can we come together on this so that we can put some of that or work in some way to achieve the goals that we’ve set together? Right. And so I think it’s just really about being honest about where you’re at and opening up conversation at a level where you are behaving like an adult and sharing how you truly feel, approaching it with curiosity. Right? And accepting back from that other person that the intention, their intentions air genuine, genuine that they genuinely care about you. Now, if you can’t have a conversation like that, then you need some counseling.

Um, and they, a counselor can help help you understand where those feelings or triggers are coming from in a way that can resolve them so that you can move forward with your partner in the present. And so sometimes we get into cycles where those things just can’t for whatever reason, no matter how we want them to go or how we feel like they should go or what we know should happen. We can’t facilitate that for ourselves or in the other person and that’s what that’s what counseling is for.

So, alright, what are we talking about next week? I have no idea. I guess we’ll find out next week. I guess. So if you have any questions or comments about bringing together or coming together on finances or money in a blended family, we would love to hear them and we, as we start getting questions and concerns and we will bring them into our sewed. I don’t know if the episode is like the right word for this. I feel like I should be having a conniption fit or something.

We’ll figure out connection connection connection. It’s connections. This is four for four. Connection. Connection, connection number, not connection, not connection number four. So, uh yeah, leave your comments and questions. We would love to address them. Let us know how you guys work your finances and at the marriage connection dot com and we have a podcast that is at, you know what? Go to our website at the marriage connection dot com because I can’t even remember where to send you for the podcast but it’s on the website.

So cool. You can catch us also on facebook on Youtube and on twitter although we don’t know if we’re going to stay on twitter because it’s, it’s complicated anyway. Okay, well that’s fun. See you next week. See you next week

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