When two families come together to form one, there’s more to manage than just the wedding and living arrangement. Both parents likely have their own financial obligations, and you’ll need to split mutual expenses. Often, figuring out how to split bills in a blended family requires some thought. Not every situation makes a 50/50 arrangement appropriate, so you need to examine yours to find a plan that works.
Additionally, you need to determine which expenses qualify as shared. For example, the mortgage could be eligible. However, if one spouse originally bought the house, they could also be responsible for the entire payment. This may be dependent on the view of the home as an asset. Does it belong to the individual or the couple?
However, quite a few options are incredibly viable, so make sure to explore these before cementing your plan.
One of the easiest approaches is a weighted or proportional income-based split. This involves determining what percentage of the household’s income comes from each parent, and using that figure to decide who pays how much.
For example, imagine a couple where one spouse earns $70,000 a year and the other earns $40,000. This means the first brings in about 64 percent of the income and the second around 36 percent.
In an income-based split, the first spouse would pay 64 percent of the shared expenses. The other would handle the remaining 36 percent. Many couples view this as both a practical and fair way to split bills in a blended family.
Post-Obligation Bill Split
Unless each parent was debt-free when they married, certain financial obligations likely came along with them. This can include anything from consumer debt to child support payments to medical expenses.
In some cases, it’s wise to examine how much of each spouse’s income goes to paying these obligations. Then, use the remaining amount of income after making these payments to determine a fair split. This can prevent unnecessary tension in a blended family, particularly if one partner carries significantly more debt or financial burdens.
Managing Split Bill Payments
Once you decide on a fair split, you need to address the handling of the shared expenses. In some cases, you can assign each parent specific bills that generate a total that matches their obligation. The approach is pretty simple, but it relies on the numbers working out properly.
An alternative involves opening a separate checking account for paying expenses. Each spouse deposits the appropriate portion of their paycheck into the account, and you pay bills using those funds. Typically, this approach is better if you can’t make the split fair using the existing payment amounts alone.
If you are both comfortable with the idea, you also have the option to combine your finances. This would mean everyone’s income would go into jointly accessible accounts with bill payments coming from those funds.
Generally, this method is only ideal if you are sharing all assets and obligations. This may work for some blended families. However, others prefer to keep things separate, and that’s okay, too.
Open Communication in a Blended Family
Navigating a new relationship is already difficult. Add children to the mix, and it becomes even more complicated. The best way to ensure a smooth transition is through honest and open communication. Before you tie the knot, you should have those conversations about finances and ask the tough questions. This will ensure that you are both on the same page before you sign any legally binding documents.
You may even consider holding regular family meetings. It is a great way to bring the two families together through a shared experience. Creating a space where you openly discuss your financial situation can also facilitate communication on more sensitive topics.
Ultimately, both spouses need to agree on an approach that works for everyone. As long as you do that, then you found the right answer.
Are you in a blended family? How do you handle household expenses? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Looking for more articles on personal finance? Check these out:
- 5 Easy Tips for Simplifying a Home Budget
- Should Couples Keep Separate Bank Accounts?
- 7 Easy Ways to Fix Your Credit
Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.