By Geoff Williams
With Kelsa Dickey
Read on US News & World Report MONEY Edition

Blending families and finances

If you’re in a blended family, you may find the banking part pretty easy. Even fun, compared to the other family chaos. Still, managing finances when you’ve merged families can be stressful. Your ex-spouse may be worried that his or her money isn’t always being spent on your kids but your new partner’s kids. Or if you’re the one paying child support while married to someone else with kids, that may cause stress with your partner. You or your spouse may want to keep your finances separate, having already been burned in a marriage once before.

If you’re wrestling with these issues, keep these guidelines in mind:
Figure out the finances beforehand.
There is no right or wrong way to do this.
In the article, I elaborated on this 2nd point by saying:

“The first question you should ask yourself is a tough one: Are you labeling the children, “the kids,” or “your kids and my kids”? That may sound harsh, but it may be understandable for some couples, if you have a child who is mostly at another parent’s house, or in college, and Dickey says that either approach is fine. “But it’s a crucial question to answer because people usually feel strongly one way or the other,” she says, adding: “If they both consider each other’s kids as one big family, combining finances is much easier.”

You’ll need an emergency fund.

Keep your taxes in mind.

Now that you’ve fallen in love and are starting a new life, think about dying.

“OK, maybe this isn’t the best time to bring this up, but you probably will want to change your will soon and buy some more life insurance, now that you have a bigger family. You might also want to consult an estate planner.”

Ease into the process.

“When you do move in, if you start merging your finances, you don’t have to do everything at once. In fact, if you’re able to avoid it, it’s probably better not to do everything at once.”