How to manage costs as coparents
Coparenting has its challenges, but don’t add budgeting to your list of struggles. Read on to discover our money-management tips for coparents.
5 min read
Whether you’re raising your children in separate households or under one roof, coparenting comes with plenty of difficulties—and that includes managing costs. Yet money management doesn’t have to be a struggle for coparents—in fact, managing costs together can be a great chance to work as a team with a common goal. To help you out, we’ve put together a guide on how to manage money while coparenting.
What is coparenting?
Coparenting is when two parents work together to raise their child or children, despite not being partnered romantically. The coparenting model is often used to describe separated or divorced parents, but may include many different types of parenting models. The basic idea is that both parties have an active role in their children’s lives. Successful coparenting hinges on doing your best to forge a positive relationship with your coparent and focusing on the wellbeing and happiness of your kids.
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5 tips for managing finances as coparents
Dividing up costs as coparents may seem daunting, but with a little organization and effective communication, you’ll find that it may not be as hard as you think. Here are 5 top tips for managing your finances while coparenting.
1. Define your shared expenses
Work together to create a list of shared costs for your children. This might include school fees, clothing, and after school classes. Bear in mind that you might have different priorities for what to spend money on when it comes to your children, so it’s important to be respectful of one another and be realistic—not only about what you can afford, but what kinds of money-related values you want to instill in your children.
2. Develop a system
Once you’ve gotten a good idea of what your costs are, decide how to divvy them up. How you do this will vary depending on what works for your family. For example, it may be easier for you to have a joint account or a shared sub-account to pay for child-related expenses. Others will find it simpler to keep their finances separate and divvy up bills equally. Depending on your arrangement, you may discover that one parent needs to chip in more if they have a higher income, or if they aren’t able to do as much childcare.
3. Be flexible, yet maintain your boundaries
Things change, especially when kids are involved. And when the unexpected happens, it’s important to be flexible. Talk to each other about any changes that occur, and be willing to adapt if necessary. However, like with any relationship, it’s important to maintain your boundaries and ensure that no one feels taken advantage of. Take the needs and circumstances of your coparent into account, but stand up for yourself and your priorities as well.
4. Put up a united front
Whether parents are together or apart, it’s easy to let the little things distract you from your common goal. However, it’s a good idea to model the kind of behavior you want to teach your kids. Though everyone has different approaches toward money, try to adopt the same general strategy to maintain a sense of consistency.
For example, make an effort to align on things like allowances, special treats, and so on. Also, make sure you’re both clear on how much you want to share with your kids about your own finances, and what you want to teach them. Need help? Check out our blog post on teaching kids about money.
5. Stay calm if tensions arise
Money can be a stressful topic, regardless of what your family structure looks like. However, if disagreements come up, try to stay calm and work together to find a solution. Be receptive to feedback and feel empowered to speak your mind. If money is tight, work as a team to find areas to cut back on, or check out government programs that might help relieve some financial stress. If arguments keep arising when it comes to money, don’t hesitate to outsource support from a professional who can help mediate. After all, you’ve got an excellent common priority, and two heads are often better than one!
Budget planning for coparents
When you’re dividing up costs, setting up a budget can be a great way to help keep your spending on track and diffuse tension over the long-term. When developing your budget, it’s helpful to list all the possible costs for your kids for the coming 6-12 months. There will always be surprises, but it’s still helpful to note down fixed costs, such as:
- School fees
- School items (e.g., books, uniforms, stationary, etc.)
- After school activities
- Hobbies or music lessons
- Clothing and footwear
- Healthcare costs
- Vision care, such as eye tests, glasses, or contact lenses
- Pocket money
- Birthdays and parties
- Mobile phones or electronics
You can use last year's expenses as an indication for the upcoming year, and factor in any increase you’re expecting, such as more pocket money or a new computer for school. If you realize that your costs are too high, work together to figure out what budget cuts will be possible while maintaining the stability you both want for your kids.
Once you’ve listed your costs, decide how to manage the payment. You could agree to each take certain costs and check back later on how much each of you has spent. Another option is to have one parent cover the costs and get reimbursed with a monthly lump-sum payment. You might find that an ad-hoc style works best for your family. Remember, the financial arrangement will be personal to you and your situation, so discuss some options and agree on the best approach for your family.
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What is coparenting?
Coparenting is a model where individuals who are not romantically linked share parenting duties for their children. The individuals may have been in a relationship previously or may have decided to have a child together without forming a romantic relationship. Coparenting usually implies that the parents involved are more or less equally engaged in their children’s lives.
How do divorced parents manage expenses?
When it comes to managing money for your children after you’ve separated, communication is key. Be open and honest about your needs and objectives, and discuss how much each of you can reasonably allocate to cover costs for your children. To get organized, it might be a good idea to set up a budget by listing all your collective costs and deciding how to pay for them.
What is the best coparenting schedule?
Schedules for coparents depend greatly on the circumstances of the family concerned. Factors such as time, location, living arrangements, and—above all—the wellbeing of the child or children need to be taken into account. Some families find that a week-on, week-off model works well for them, while others choose to live with one parent and see the other on weekends or holidays. Some families may decide that they want to live together, even if the parents are not coupled. There’s no one right way to coparent. All that’s important is that the schedule works for you and your family.
How can I reduce my childcare costs as a coparent?
Coparents have some advantages when it comes to childcare that coupled parents may not have. For example, parents may live apart, leaving the other parent free to get their errands done or go out to dinner. If money is still tight, try a babysitting swap with other families, or enroll your children in after-school activities to reduce childcare costs.
How do you deal with money when coparenting?
The key to successful financial wellbeing when coparenting is communication and honesty. Working together to make a plan that works for both parties is key. Be open for change, and speak your mind if something isn’t working for you in the agreed-upon arrangement.
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