NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Yours, Mine and Ours

Yours, Mine and Ours


          Money, frequently cited as the biggest source of stress in family life, is often an even more challenging matter for members of stepfamilies. About 50 percent of Americans will live in a stepfamily at some point in their lives, Stepfamily members often have very different views related to the use of money.  

          In a remarriage, however, each partner contributes not only his or her own beliefs about money to the new relationship, but also past financial experiences and established habits of spending and saving money.  It can be a major challenge for remarried spouses to merge their ideas into a system that is acceptable to both partners. If partners insist upon retaining the methods of handling money and making financial decisions that they used in other relationships, they may experience friction with their new spouses.

          Another factor that can make managing money difficult for stepfamilies is having to divide resources between two or more families. Some of the stepfamily's financial decisions may have to be based on the needs or wants of another household. For instance, plans to go on a vacation may have to be postponed because the financial needs of a former spouse or non-residential child increase unexpectedly. Situations such as these usually make financial decision making more complicated.

          Also complicating financial functioning in stepfamilies is having to work with the legal system.  The court assumes some of the financial decision making authority for parents by determining the amount of child support and the length of time it will be paid.  By contrast, partners in first-married families are able to consider their needs and make financial decisions without having to account for policies established for them by a court.       

          Ideas for effective financial management

    Talk together about your past experiences with money and how you feel money should be handled. Ideally, this should be done before you remarry.

          Prepare for unforeseen problems by communicating with your children's other parent about how you will handle unexpected expenses and financial emergencies.

          Evaluate your expectations and relax them if needed. Think about all the things you can control in your financial situation and worry less about those you cannot.


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