I don't want to be perfect, just better...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tough Issue Tuesday: What to Do with Child Support Payments?

My views on child support are different from most. 

I don’t see child support as my money. I see it as my children’s money. I don’t think child support should be used to pay every day expenses. If your daily expenses are that costly then maybe you need to trim down. I have been in a bind before and used some of the child support money to help cover a portion of a bill.

I’ve mentioned before that I take a portion of my child support payment and place it directly into my children’s account. For example, if my CS check is $200 then $75 will go to each child and the remainder will go into the household budget to for food or clothing or activities. I also may use a that portion of these checks to get them extras (toys, I am not a huge proponent of a lot of toys).

My child support payments are sporadic. I may receive a check (garnished by the state directly from my ex’s paycheck) for one month or three months in a row. Then I may not receive anything for a year or more. 

I use these checks to build a ‘Kid Emergency Fund’. No, emergency fund is not the right phrase. This is a ‘Kid Security Fund’. Once money goes into the account it rarely if ever comes out. They (my children) don’t know when the checks come so they have no idea how much money their accounts have in them. (I do let them see the total balance every quarter or so).  

This lack of regularity has taught me not to be dependent upon these checks for my every day bills.

This got me thinking about other friends who are dependent on child support payments. They depend on these checks to cover their basic bills like water, gas and rent. One girlfriend has this as a line item in her budget. Her payments are irregular as well which is why I am stunned she counts this money as part of her budget.  To me, this is not a good strategy in any shape or form. 

What if the father (or mother) lost their job? No income for you.
What if an accident befell them and they went on reduced benefits? One of the first things they may consider cutting is you.

Even as the recession is technically coming to an end, many people have not been able to regain their maximum salary. Many non custodial parents are seeking child support reductions.

I read this blog post asking for ideas on budgeting irregular income. Check out the comments sections for great tips.

Tell me how do you use your child support payments. Is it savings for your children's future or for everyday expenses?

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