Money and Relationships: Financially Meshing "The Brady Bunch" Family

Money and Relationships: Financially Meshing "The Brady Bunch" Family

If you and your new spouse are marrying lifestyles, creating a “Brady Bunch” family can be a lot more difficult than Marsha and gang let on. Five teens racing for one bathroom causes more sucker punches and fist fights than family togetherness moments...

Growing up Brady can be difficult in so many aspects (including daily bathroom privilege fights), but one of the biggest problems encountered may be financial. What do you do, for example, when an extra couple of kids are vying for your attention..and your wallet?

My mom and stepdad handled it pretty well, so I would like to address the combined family conundrum based on my own experience. So here it goes: The Brady Bunch, Palm style:

My Combined Family

I have an unusual combined family. My stepdad entered the picture, childless, and we all moved to a farm together: a mom, a stepdad and three teens. Once we were settled a little bit in our very frugal farm lifestyle, we added foster kids to the mix. Two more teens were suddenly plopped into the middle of our farmhouse, and our family finances got even tighter.

So what did my parents do? They decided everything together and then designated my mom as the money queen. She was the parent to ask for field trip money, lunch money, etc.

”Marrying” the Finances

As you all know, I do not think there is any one way to join finances. I truly believe a couple can have completely separate finances and be happy, as long as they communicate their joint goals. However, I don’t see many ways around the joint family finances while bringing up Brady. There’s just too much at stake; raising children is hard enough without trying to raise them under different sets of rules.

For example, if one set of children must earn their own keep while the other set can simply ask for cash, you are pretty sure to hear an entire whiny chorus of "That's not fair!" songs. Instead, when kids live under the same roof, it is often best that they live by the same rules – oy, I sound like my mother!

In this case, it may be best to marry finances. You and your spouse could join finances and communicate daily, or you could meld the money and designate one partner as the daily finance manager (like my parents did). Whatever your solution, joint accounts may be necessary.

Consider the Children

As you and your spouse move forward in your newly shared financial journey, the adjustment period may be rough for the kids. For this reason, you may need to set quite a few ground rules. Here are a few ideas to make the transition smoother:

  • Hold a Family Meeting: It may be helpful to introduce the subject of money and tighter finances at a family meeting. Sit both sets of kids down and let them know what your new ground rules are. My parents, for example, let us know we all had to work part-time jobs if we wanted cars (must-haves while living a teen life in the country!).
  • Take Time With Each Child: Once they collectively know the new rules, sitting down with each of your biological children individually can help them feel freer to address their own concerns. Be prepared to listen to a little (or a lot of) teenage whining. Stick to your guns: this will pass.
  • Be Open to Ideas: Teens and children can be very resourceful and full of awesome ideas, so let them know you are always available to discuss money options with them. Maybe your stepdaughter wants to start up a website for extra cash or your son wants to begin hanging laundry on the line to pocket the savings. Whatever their ideas, allowing kids to voice concerns and ideas can help them feel more in control, or at least helpful, in the family finances.

All-in-all, growing up Brady was actually kind of fun. Once my brother, sister and I knew that finances were not going to be the same as they once were, we adjusted well. And we welcomed countless foster-siblings into our house…and into our mother’s purse. ;-)

What about other people out there? Anyone have any tips on financially joining two single-parent families? My experience was non-traditional, and every family-melding story is different; we’d love to hear from you!

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Lindy Mint's picture

Lindy Mint wrote:

Wed, 07/20/2011 - 20:19 Comment #: 1

That does sound like a fun way to grow up. And I seriously love the term "money queen" for your mom. I may have to crown myself as that.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 16:41 Comment #: 2

It was fun to grow up Brady! As for your new name, I hereby bequeth you the name Money Queen (I'm not sure when I became a knight...) ;-)

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