YNAB for Separated Parents with Ex's and New Partners

Hi guys!

Here's my situation...not that uncommon, I don't think.

I have an ex-wife. Mother of my kids. We split costs on kids activities (swimming, soccer, etc)....and we have a shared google spreadsheet to manage that. 

I have a girlfriend (I know, it's pretty great!) who has two kids. We are now living together and share some expenses like rent, groceries, utilities. We have tried using a google spreadsheet (and also tried Splitwise) to manage all that.

But it's not working.

I YNAB and stay up to date. My ex-wife used to YNAB. and my girlfriend YNAB's sometimes.

Transactions on the spreadsheets fall through the cracks.

I'm struggling to keep track of it all and spending WAY too much time trying to make it work for everyone.

Looking for advice and best practices out there in YNAB-land.



P.S. In another thread I had the idea that YNAB could try to add a "roommate" feature where YNAB budgets were linked and categories could be set to 50/50 or whatever the split is. And then using a similar setup as VISA's YNAB would create a category that showed how much was owed by whom.

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  • I have some similar situations, and I'm looking forward to seeing the discussion here.

    I use Splitwise with my ex (father of my kids) for medical expenses that we split, but thankfully we don't split after-school activities, I feel your pain there. That's a lot to juggle, especially if your ex isn't great about updating Splitwise (I'd recommend that over a spreadsheet, as it's easier for them to update).

    If you pay for something, you'll be sure to enter it in Splitwise. If your ex or girlfriend pays for it, and doesn't enter it in Splitwise, you can't be expected to pay them back. I've found that's a real motivator for my family/friends/ex to enter their transactions.

    My best advice is to settle up frequently, even right away. It makes your budget sooo much easier.

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  • Hey Ryan Oakley ,
    I'm going to move your post over to the Money & Relationships category as it will most likely get more action in the Community Section :) Looking forward to the discussion! 

  • I am in the same boat.  My ex pays for all medical expenses right now and I am trying to keep track of that in a separate YNAB budget that I screen shot for him each month.  Also my boyfriend started using YNAB.  He had a bad experience in his formal marriage with budgeting and money so he will never want to completely combine our budgets when we live together.  I agree after being divorced as well.  But we will need to budget some stuff together.  I would love to see an option to share only certain budgets or budget lines with others.  

  • As the second wife (no kids) married to a man with kids who splits expenses with his ex-wife (some are split 50/50 and some are split based on an income ratio)... I feel your pain. 
    I second  Jen 's feedback - settle up frequently and often. We've tried a few ways to keep track of things with the other household, including spreadsheets and apps, and we were flat out told that it wasn't a priority to that household to reconcile regularly or accurately! 

    So, the beauty of YNAB for us has been: we have a main category dedicated to the kids, and sub categories under it. We enter and categorize expenses as we need to. Then, when the other household decides they would like to reconcile expenses, it is easy for us to do so. We can pull up those transaction categories and list them out lickety-split! We've really had to embrace YNAB rule #2 & #3. We've embraced these expenses and we're rolling with the punches.  Maddening at times, yes. But, survivable!  

    Also, important to note, my husband and I have dedicated categories to each of us. We put $$ into it each month (always the same) and it's like a slush fund. It doesn't matter how we each spend it. If he wants to spend it on the kids, he can. If I want to save it for a girls weekend with friends, I can. It's helped with us each having autonomy within the budget. 

    • Ang 

      Totally agree. My ex and I share a google doc for shared expenses and we settle monthly. I use ynab to keep track of money that I spent, so I don't have to update the google doc on a regular basis (shared expenses have their own category for me in ynab, so it's easy for me to pull them up)

      The difference between us gets transferred monthly into and out of the shared expenses category directly (alimony is a separate category) and I have a monthly funding goal (based on the yearly average that we expect etc.( so it doesn't get completely out of whack). Small punches are rolled with... :)

      I don't have granularity of what goes into the kids' shared expenses, but I can pull of the google doc if necessary.

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