Blended families more likely to struggle with money

Forget the Brady Bunch. The idyllic picture of a blended family with a big house and a maid couldn't be less accurate when it comes to today's "blended" families.

Blended families have far less savings and are significantly more likely to live paycheck-to-paycheck than traditional families, according to a recent survey sponsored by Allianz Life. The financial services company defines a blended family as one in which parents who are married or living together live with stepchildren or children from a previous relationship.

One-third of blended families' report they're not saving at all. And they're twice as likely to report that their spouse brought financial baggage into the relationship that's tough to overcome.

"The defining characteristic of blended families is the financial baggage and commitments that they bring from their previous relationships," said Allianz vice president Katie Libbe.

If there's a bright side, it's that the economic struggles of blended families make them far more likely to teach their kids about money.

Some 74 percent of blended families teach their kids never to spend more than they earn, while only 69 percent of traditional families make time for that lesson. Nearly 63 percent of blended families try to pass on the valuable money lessons they've been taught; just 57 percent of traditional families do the same. Blended families are also more likely to talk about their own money issues (54 percent) with the kids than traditional families (47 percent).

Additionally, blended families are more likely to teach their kids to balance a checkbook, help the kids put together a budget and encourage them to save and invest for long-term goals.

Other differences between traditional and blended families, according to Allianz:

Average household savings:

Traditional family: $264,300

Blended family: $158,600

Live paycheck-to-paycheck

Traditional family: 41 percent

Blended family: 55 percent

On track to reach financial goals

Traditional family: 60 percent

Blended family: 46 percent

Conflicting priorities between partners

Traditional family: 31 percent

Blended family: 35 percent

Spouse brought economic baggage that's tough to overcome

Traditional family: 23 percent

Blended family: 43 percent