It goes without saying that blended families bring a unique dynamic to both your family and your finances. Blended families enjoy much of the same excitement for the future as traditional families (i.e., first marriages). However, blended families typically have additional considerations and challenges. As you step into new roles and navigate uncharted waters, it's common to feel pulled in various directions.
Amidst this complexity, creating a unified vision for your blended family's finances, in collaboration with your spouse, offers a guiding light, reinstating a sense of direction and purpose.
What Makes Blended Family Finances Challenging?
In a typical first marriage, the couple says, “I do,” and both parties leave a single life behind to build a future with their new spouse. Financially speaking, their situations may differ, but in most cases, each partner has only been responsible for their own personal needs up to this point. So they are, in essence, starting from the ground floor together.
In contrast, blended families typically come together in the middle of life (and if there are kids involved, right in the middle of a lot of lives!). Not only are you potentially adding several people and new roles (stepparent), but you also must address the financial complexities that come with blending later in life. Managing life with additional people, adapting to new roles, and merging your differing financial situations can feel overwhelming.
For example, when my wife, Cara, and I were preparing to blend, it didn’t take us long to realize that we had some work ahead of us. You see, we each had a previous marriage and kids from those marriages (I had three, and Cara had two) whose ages ranged from 10-18 years old. We were both embracing the idea of being a stepparent to new kids and feeling uncertain about our approach to the future. To complicate things further, we came into the relationship with differing incomes, expenses, debt, and assets. For example, we each owned a home with differing levels of equity. These homes worked great for our single lives but couldn’t accommodate our new family of seven (plus two dogs and a cat)! We needed to find a way to align our financial circumstances with our growing and evolving family.
Thankfully, there is a way to simplify and reduce the stress of blending your wealth so that you can focus on the joys of blending your family: the unified vision. To simplify your blended finances, you need to create some financial order, but that requires going beyond the numbers first.
Going Beyond the Numbers to Create Your Unified Vision
When meeting with blended couples for the first time, I've noticed that when they talk about money, they, well, talk about money — jumping right into the dollars and cents. But what if I told you that the secret to blending your finances well cannot be found in the numbers? Rather, the secret to reducing this financial stress is going beyond the numbers. This isn’t to say that the numbers are not important. Money certainly plays a role. However, the numbers fail to tell the whole story of how you got here in the first place and where you want to go as a family.
Going beyond the dollars and cents will help you and your family create a unified vision that will guide you toward successfully blending your wealth and your family. A word of caution: creating a unified vision for your blended family requires complete honesty with yourself and a willingness to acknowledge your situation and how you got here in the first place. It also requires listening to your partner and learning about their situation. While portions of these steps need to be done individually so you can fully understand your own circumstances, creating a unified vision requires both spouses to participate (that’s where the “unified” part comes in 😊). Doing this can help bring you and your family closer than ever.
We will go into more detail in an upcoming article, but at a high level, you can create a unified vision for your blended family’s finances by following these three steps:
- Gain a comprehensive understanding of your money history and values.
- Assess your current financial standing.
- Envision the future together as a blended family.
Remember, it's never too late to embark on this journey towards a unified vision. Whether you're preparing to blend your families or have been successfully blending for two decades, aligning your family and wealth is a powerful step.
If you're ready to take the first step and work with a financial advisor to create a unified vision and a strategic plan, don't hesitate to schedule an introductory call now. Your family's financial harmony awaits.
Based in St. Paul, MN, Endurance Financial Group is an Independent Registered Investment Advisor partnering with blended families to combine their household finances in a unified financial plan that works for all members of the family. They can be reached by phone at 651-605-2318 or online at efg-planning.com.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.